cue the ominous music
Even if cataloging is not your jam, I think there's something in here for you about the bravery that innovation requires.
There is quite a buzz online this morning as word reached Twitter that the Oslo Public Library implemented RDF linked data as its "core metadata format." The fine print on this decision is that RDF linked data will replace MARC for description of traditional library resources. This blog post from June 2014 lays out some of the reasoning behind the change, including the fact that describing both physical and digital resources using RDF linked data provides continuity in description between physical and digital collections.
After reading what other people had to say about this decision, I tweeted:
At some point, there will be a tipping point of libraries jumping out of the MARC boat & into the post-MARC ocean. #HotLibrarylandTakesAs with the jump from using AACR2 as a descriptive standard to using RDA, there will come a point where more libraries will move from using MARC as an encoding standard to using whatever replaces it. It's already starting to happen at the bleeding edges with the development of use cases for BIBFRAME and with the momentum that LibHub seems to be generating.
— Erin Leach (@erinaleach) January 13, 2015
And while the future that's being built is exciting, it also feels a little bit scary sometimes.
I think that in some bleeding edge folks, the reaction to hearing people admit to being a little afraid of the post-MARC future is to call catalogers change averse. But I don't think that the fear is a symptom of change aversion. Not entirely, anyway. For many catalogers, MARC is the only encoding standard we've ever know. And even though we can rationally agree that MARC is antiquated and needs to be replaced, considering the post-MARC future means learning new skills and creating new workflows. I don't think it's wrong to feel afraid of letting go of something old, even as we embrace something new--in cataloging or any other area of librarianship.
I am here to tell you that it's okay to be scared, as long as you don't let that fear keep you rooted in the past instead of embracing the future.
Choosing to innovate means choosing to be brave. For catalogers, it means learning more about the post-MARC world and finding your voice in conversations you don't entirely understand. It means learning to code so that catalogers can speak the same language as the people who design the systems and services that use the metadata we create.
Being innovative means sitting with our discomfort and moving forward, not in spite of it but with it.