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Linking Libraries and Publishers via the MARC record

Reformat and restructure the MARC record to become the publishing and library industry standard metadata and discovery vehicle for eContent.

The concept of Metadata is so prevalent that it is sometime hard to define.  But if we use metadata as “data about data” or more specifically, “data about the containers of data,” the traditional MARC record serves that purpose.  The MARC record gives us “handles” to describe and then discover items of interest.   The publishing industry also creates metadata for content as part of the publishing workflow, most typically a system called ONIX.   (reference)

The reformulated and enhanced MARC record will  include static content; (author, title, etc.); “on-the-fly” content (formatting and layout instructions as well as links to images, video, etc.); as well as hooks to capture contributions from the community (patron reviews and tags, commentary, and other forms of engagement with the content, etc.).     All these elements will be assembled at the moment the content is called for, thus allowing the content to be scalable, updated, and formatted in real time for each user.

Terry Jones in “Why Digital Books Will Become Writable” says that “just as browsing has to a large extent moved from delivery of static pre-built HTML containers to a model of looking at a page that is constructed and updated on demand, the ebook world can be expected to move from delivery of static pre-built ebook containers to something more dynamic. “    Transform the MARC record away from a static document by embedding pre-built eBook hooks into MARC record that is rendered at the device level to create the output just like the “on-the-fly” creation of modern webpages.  In this manner, the enhanced MARC record contains the tags to hold the links to enhanced content.

Usie the links within the enhanced MARC record to connect to a “rendering engine” that provides proper formatting and layout instructions for each reading device.

Within the MARC record create an additional “hook” to allow readers to contribute their notes and comments to be stored with the original content.   Enhancing the content once again by making it expandable or “writable” to include comments, critiques, and ongoing conversations.   Writable content aligns with the publisher’s marketing goals, as Kassia Krozser describes the reader as the “greatest unpaid marketing team ever assembled”

Librarians continue to focus on the challenge of balancing purchasing “eBooks vs. pBooks” while publishers focus on the challenge of “buying books in bricks and mortar stores vs. buying books online.”    As Mike Shatzkin says it is not in the publisher’s interest to yield to more competition in the online book market place, by allowing libraries to distribute books online, when Amazon holds 75% of the online book purchasing market.

Using the library catalog/OPAC as the shared public discovery tool and the enhanced MARC record as the backend metadata creates unrealized synergy between libraries and publishers. The enhanced MARC record will also feature API hooks to online sales so the channel for libraries and publishers is the same until the moment the patron clicks “buy” or “borrow.”

Libraries can leverage the catalog/OPAC as the key to discoverability.  In addition to Krozser’s greatest unpaid marketing team, librarian recommendations also drive book sales and reading.  As the enhanced MARC record serves both the needs of libraries and publishers, the content it can offer should be the same.  Library catalogs/OPACs should include the entire media catalog of publishers and content producers.

It is in the publisher’s interest to economize and use partners that do non-core functions cheaper and better.    As the enhanced MARC record includes significant amounts of “data about the containers of data” and the “handles” for discovering the item in the crowded market place, it would make business sense for publishers to link to the enhanced MARC record as part of the digital asset management systems.

The enhanced MARC record also unifies the marketplace of print books and eBooks.  The embedded links and community commentary attached to a document’s enhanced MARC records will drive the continued discovery of that item via the real time assembly of links within the enhanced MARC record.   The realization that eBooks are for all intents and purposes the equivalent of webpages, the embedded links, community writable commentary and continuous revision create the current and future provenance of an item.

Reformulating the MARC record to include the static, on-the-fly, and writable content it will become the standard tool (metadata) for the library and publishing industry as well as the “go to” place for the online purchasing and distribution channel.

Categories: databases, libraries
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