October 22, 2004

Another interesting piece of work on metadata is just starting. It's a study by William Moen (the Z39.50 specialist at the University of North Texas) called 'MARC Content Designation Utilization: Inquiry & Analysis. Examining Present Practices to Inform Future Metadata Use: An Empirical Analysis of MARC Content Designation Utilization'. In this 2-year project, the researchers will will investigate the extent of catalogers’ use of MARC 21, the mark-up language used by catalogers worldwide to create electronic catalog records. OCLC will provide a sample of 1 million MARC bibliographic records for this project.
The current MARC 21 specifications define nearly 2000 fields and subfields available to library catalogers working to create catalog records for a wide variety of materials. In the Z-Interoperability Testbed Project, Moen discovered strong indications that only 36 of the available MARC subfields accounted for 80% of all subfield utilization. These preliminary findings have important implications for library catalogers, standards developers, and people involved in the machine generation of metadata.

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