Thursday, September 29, 2005

MARC Content Designation Utilization

Seymour Lubetzky asked "Is This Rule Necessary?". Now a study is being done asking "Is this field necessary?" The MARC Content Designation Utilization study is examing just what fields are being used. This could inform decisions on what fields to include in a Core Record, what fields to include in MODS. When we went from cards to computers we carried over the card into a new format. Now as we are moving from MARC to FRBR and MARCXML we should not continue to carry over unnecessary fields and practices. This study will provide an empirical basis for those and many other decisions.
The results from a recent analysis of 400,000 MARC records conducted as part of an IMLS National Leadership Grant to establish a Z39.50 interoperability testbed indicated less than 50% of nearly 2,000 MARC 21 fields/subfields occurred even once in the records, and that only 36 of the fields/subfields accounted for approximately 80% of all use. These preliminary results have sparked interest by catalogers, managers of cataloging operations, standards developers, people involved in machine generation of metadata, and others. We are proposing a research project that builds upon the initial analysis to carry out a systematic analysis of MARC content designation use in large random samples of format-specific MARC 21 bibliographic records.

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