An all-through system? From Onix to MARC

Lorcan 1 min read

One of the recommendations of the LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control encouraged greater reliance on an ‘all-through’ system for bibliographic data, where data created upstream by publishers and others could be mobilized downstream by libraries.
I was reminded of these words at the time.

Records serve different requirements and needs and yet have overlapping functions, and involve redundancy of content and duplication of effort. Throughout its history, in some cases from the moment a contract is signed between author and publisher, the book has an attendant record or records – so much so that … it looks as though there already exists within the overall book community the resources to satisfy most needs. However the present arrangement of those resources is not meeting those needs. Although there is a continuity of supply of information, continuity of record content and format is intermittent: a user will not always have available at the appropriate moment a usable record of appropriate detail. [Bibliographic records in the book world: needs and capabilities]

I wrote these words in 1987, in a report on a meeting of UK librarians, publishers and booksellers. Brian Green, of the International ISBN Agency and an Editeur principal, and I wondered recently why more has not happened in the interim. Clearly, the various players have different incentives, their data is for different purposes, and the ways in which data has been captured and encoded reflects those differences.
This last point emerges quite clearly from a report by my colleague Jean Godby just released jointly by OCLC and Editeur: Mapping Onix to MARC. Here is the summary:

This document presents an interpretation of a crosswalk from ONIX 2.1 to MARC 21 developed by OCLC and made publicly available from the OCLC Web site and EDItEUR. This work represents a major upgrade in the statement of how data for bibliographic description can be exchanged between two standards that are widely used in the library and publishing communities. The discussion considers practical outcomes and identifies theoretical and conceptual issues that will inform the next major revision of this strategically important relationship. [Mapping Onix to MARC PDF]

This is a nice collaboration and I hope that it can be built upon.
Related entry (with some good comments):

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