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[lodlam] Bibframe update

Kevin Ford from the Library of Congress is talking about BIBFRAME, which he describes as a replacement for MARC and a rethinking of the entire ecosystem.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

(If a response isn’t labeled “Kevin,” then it wasn’t Kevin. Also, this is much compressed, incomplete, and choppy. Also, I haven’t re-read it.)

Q: From the Bibframe mailing list it seems like there isn’t agreement about what Bibframe is trying to achieve.

Kevin: Sometimes people see it narrowly.

Q: It’s not clear how Bibframes gets to where it replaces MARC.

Kevin: We’re not holding back some plan or roadmap that we’ve mapped out perfectly with milestones and target dates. We’re taking it as it comes.

Q: There’s a perception on the part of vendors and customers of vendors that this is a new data specification that vendors will have to support, and that that’s its main function, and possibly that’s pushing the knowledge representation in a direction that’s favorable to the vendors — a direction that’s too simple.

Q: Is there an agreement about the end point?

Kevin: There’s agreement that it needs to do what MARC does but better. We’re doing data representation, not predicting the systems built on top of it.

Q: What are the functional requirements that Bibframe’s trying to meet with this new model? What are your metrics? And who are you trying to satisfy?

Kevin: It’s not vendor focused. We hope systems will be built that expose the data as linked data.

Q: Bibframe let’ you associate a record with a particular work, which is a huge advance.

Q: Bibframe used to talk about roundtripping from MARC to Bibframe to MARC. But Bibframe is now adding info, so I don’t see how roundtripping is possible.

Kevin: Not losslessly.

Q: Bibframe is intended for libraries, but from what I’ve seen it doesn’t seem that Bibframe is intended for use outside of libraries. There doesn’t seem to be any thought about how other ontologies might be overlaid. And that was a problem with MARC: it was too library-centric. Why not investigate mapping it into other vocabularies?

Kevin: Nothing stops you from including other namespaces. As for mapping to other vocabularies, we’re working on a 40 year time scale and can’t know that other vocabularies will be around.

Q: We need some community-building to make that happen. We need to be careful not to build an ontological silo.

Q: The naming of this data set is unfortunate: Why” bib”, which has a connotation of books, when really it should be about any kind of information-bearing object. Why not call it “InfoFrame”? Who uses “bibliographic” other than libraries? Why limit yourself?

Kevin: I cannot begin to tell you how much time was spent on what this thing should be called. It went through a couple of different names. It’s not an ideal name, but I hope that the “bib” association falls by the wayside.

Q: The library ecosystem includes articles, licenses, and many other things that weren’t part of MARC. Is Bibframe aiming at representing all of that?

Kevin: Yes, it’s in scope. Certainly data about journal articles.

Kevin: Yes, Bibframe lets you define your own fields, as in MARC.

Q: We’re going from cataloging to catalinking: from records about resources to links related to topics, etc.

A: We need services that will link resources to other resources. Bibframe doesn’t do that, but it’s more amenable to it than MARC.

Kevin: [Sorry, but I missed the beginning of this.] When it comes to subject headings, we expect you to resolve that URI. If people are doing that every single time, then it’s a candidate for being included. That lookup could be a query into your local system. I’ve assumed you’ll have to have a local copy of it.

Q: Versioning? Why did you ignore the work of the British Library?

Kevin: We didn’t ignore it at all. We need to attend to what’s achievable by the smallest institutions as well as the largest.

Q: For a small institution, is it practical to move away from MARC?

Kevin: Not for some. Some still use card catalogs. I expect some of the first systems will be an outward layer around legacy systems.

Q: We need a larger discussion about provenance and about trust on the semantic web. Libraries should be better participants in that discussion; it’s a deeply important space for us.

Q: This conversation makes me cynical about our profession’s involvement. We need be talking with users. We need community involvement. We’re worried about the longevity of FOAF? It’ll outlast Bibframe because people actually use it. Let’s keep turning inward until we’re completely irrelevant.

Q: Yeah, the idea that there has to be one namespace seems so counter to the principles of linked data.

Q: Do we have anyone outside of the library community here?

A: I’m mainly a web developer. There’s a really big gulf. The Web will win when it comes to how libraries operate. Whether Bibframe will be a part of it remains to be seen. In the web community, everything seems exciting, but I feel so much angst in the library community.

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More Stories By David Weinberger

David is the author of JOHO the blog (www.hyperorg.com/blogger). He is an independent marketing consultant and a frequent speaker at various conferences. "All I can promise is that I will be honest with you and never write something I don't believe in because someone is paying me as part of a relationship you don't know about. Put differently: All I'll hide are the irrelevancies."