Updating the Library of Congress with Semantic Technology

According to a recent article, “The Library of Congress has announced that it is going to undertake a major reevaluation of bibliographic control in a move that could lead to a gradual transition away from the 40-year-old MARC 21 standard in which billions of metadata records are presently encoded. ‘It's a ten,’ said Sally McCallum without hesitation when asked to rank the project's scope and importance on a scale of one to ten. McCallum is chief of the Network Development and MARC Standards Office at LOC.”

The article continues, “The goal of the Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative is to determine ‘what is needed to transform our digital framework’ in the light of technological changes and budgetary constraints, said Deanna B. Marcum, the library's Associate Librarian for Library Services, who will lead the initiative... By rethinking MARC, which has supported resource sharing and cataloging cost savings for many years and is the predominant standard for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information in machine-readable form, Marcum said that the LOC hopes to determine whether the standard can "evolve to do all the things we'd like it to do, or do we need to replace it" with something more compatible with the Internet world.”

It goes on, “The hope is that a move toward new data structures will ‘enable bibliographic data to be used in very new technologies and technical configurations, such as the semantic web,’ McCallum said. ‘I think we need to go into some of these new data structures with more alacrity than we have,’ McCallum said. ‘It would behoove the community to get comfortable with other data structures, like XML or RDF.’ There is also a desire in the library community to ‘reap the full benefits of new and emerging content standards,’ as indicated by the comments that accompanied the testing of the new Resource Description and Access (RDA) standard, Marcum said.”

Laura Campbell, CIO of the Library of Congress will deliver a keynote at next week’s Semantic Technology Conference on the incorporation of Semantic Technology at the Library of Congress.

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