Monday, October 18, 2004


The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded a National Leadership Grant of $233,115 to the Texas Center for Digital Knowledge (TxCDK) at the University of North Texas for a project investigating the coding of information and metadata utilization in one million MARC records from the OCLC WorldCat database. TxCDK Fellows Dr. William E. Moen and Dr. Shawne D. Miksa, both from the UNT School of Library and Information Sciences (SLIS), are the Principal Investigators of the project entitled "Examining Present Practices to Inform Future Metadata Use: An Empirical Analysis of MARC Content Designation Utilization".

During the 2-year project the extent of catalogers' use of MARC 21, the mark-up language used by catalogers worldwide to create electronic catalog records, will be investigated. OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) will provide a sample of 1 million MARC bibliographic records. The records will be pulled from OCLC's WorldCat database.

Current MARC 21 specifications define nearly 2000 fields and subfields available to library catalogers. In a previous project, Z-Interoperability Testbed Project, strong indications were discovered that only 36 of the available MARC subfields accounted for 80% of all subfield utilization.

More information about the project is available on-line.

Interesting research at my alma mater. If only 36 subfields account for 80% of usage, how much of MARC is really necessary? Should Dublin Core be expanded to these 36 fields? When was the last time fields were tossed out of MARC because they were not being used? Should some fields be valid only for a community of users, not everybody? How are the fields chosen for the Core record? Should they be changed? Of the fields not being used are any critical for user access? How could we populate those missing fields? So many interesting questions. I'm proud my school is investigating these questions.

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