Marc was designed in 1967.  I have more storage on the flash stick on my keychain than most main frames could handle in 1967.    A gig is now cheaper than a meal out.  Marc is a standard for a serial record to be stored on a tape.  It’s readability rests upon a discrete record with a leader specifying the lengths of sequential fields of data in a particular order.   To do anything with a Marc record, it must be disassembled and reconstituted in pieces.  Even the displays we see as Marc workforms require this disassembly and reassembly to make it comprehensible to catalogers.

Web-based metadata is not designed for rigid seriality.  Bits of data a labelled individually so that they may be gathered together as needed for a purpose. Whereas Marc field labels are limited to three digits, two indicators, and subfield codes, metadata labelling is flexible in its definitions and design.   Everything Marc does can be done using web-based metadata labelling.  And more.

BUT I’VE BEEN DOING MARC TAGGING SINCE 1974!!!!!  I CAN’T LET GO!!!!  WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO GET RID OF IT?????? And my husband drives a 1991 Honda he bought new that still runs fine — but I really prefer he had airbags.

2009-1967=42 years of using the same machine-readable tagging system.  We can keep limping along with our now unique data tagging system or move to web-style systems that take advantage of the flexibility the web makes possible.  Yes, we can webbify Marc to preserve an interface that is comfy for catalogers but if that’s the only reason to keep Marc is that enough?  Just because we give up Marc doesn’t mean we have to give up any of the bibliographic retrieval or display capabilities we think it makes possible.

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