Share it with RDA

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One of the key points behind RDA is being able to re-use bibliographic data held in library management systems, outside of the system. If you release this data into the wild, it’s likely that someone else will come up with an interesting and innovative way of using it, way beyond its original purpose on the library system.

In the past, library communities have managed to share data between their systems fairly successfully – as long as you catalogued your stock according to the rules. We achieved this sharing process through the use of MARC formats.

Unfortunately, I think the use of MARC formats, specifically MARC21 (the dominant MARC format in the English language speaking world), will be the thing that undoes the RDA plan to share data outside of the catalogue.

MARC21 records are stuffed full of punctuation that will need to be stripped out before you can share it. There’s no doubt that this can be done – if you added the punctuation in the first place, based on rules, you should be able to strip it all out again. However, it would be a lot more helpful when going down the “Let’s open this data up to the world” route if we didn’t have to do this. Why should users of the data have to frustrate themselves with this process?

So, now RDA is with us, isn’t it time to look at MARC21 and do something about this barrier to sharing data?

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