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Converging bibliographic standards needs?

By dchud, Section Standards
Posted on Wed Apr 16th, 2003 at 10:39:48 AM EST
There is an auspicious convergence going on of folks from diverse communities working on new bibliographic citation standardization efforts. For several years folks in the free software community have struggled with the issue of core data models and storage standards for citation management tools... wait, no, actually, when I say "struggled", I really mean "have dealt with the problem of not being able to adopt library-community-promulgated standards by building their own incompatible solutions, which work well enough in isolation, but are hard to integrate with other community standards". In any case, it appears some of these developers and projects are cross-polinating discussions of actual nascent library standards development groups. Read on for a list of these efforts and where to look to go get involved in the discussion; with so many great tools out there, and the flexibility of the toolkits we now have to develop standards, we really have to support efforts to cooperate across communities (by which I mean inside and outside of the library community! :).


If you've been watching any of these individual efforts, you're already probably steeped in the issues, and maybe complacent that the individual solutions being developed are well in sync with their stated objectives. But it's frustrating to watch multiple capable groups pursuing such similar yet slightly different objectives, when a little architectural conflation might help everybody meet their specific needs. If you're a /u/l/i regular, it's been fascinating to watch ksclarke's updates on XOBIS. But if you're on the pybliographer list, you've seen them hash over an internal storage model repeatedly over time, and the MODS people release a useful but apparently not-useful-enough solution for the BibX folks (see recent discussion on the MODS list).

The most frustrating thing (to me) is that several of these projects don't expose their mailing list archives freely to the world. The LC lists require a user/pass to view the archives; the BibX list archives are restricted to list members. The first thing I'd like to see is an opening up. We're all running spamassassin anyway, right, so what's a little more spam exposure? :)

It would be very cool if somebody could line up several of these efforts and provide a succinct summary of how they're similar, how they differ, and a technical proposal for whether and how the differences might be usefully reconciled. It pains us hacker-librarian types to see all our library community's painstakingly crafted metadata and metadata standards go little used outside of libraries, and most of the technical barriers to fixing this issue seem to have gone away (which is not to say the same regarding sociological, process, training, economic, and other barriers, which certainly remain manyfold). In any case, here's a short list of projects that are tending to converge (at least in my mind), and in particular the last week of discussion on the MODS list that saw comments from BibX developers.

I hope this is helpful to folks who might not know about all the different projects, and perhaps need reminding that there is something for the library community to gain by paying close attention to related free software projects (who apparently are already paying attention to library standards efforts :). All told, there are cetainly plenty of smart folks in each of these groups, and in the absence of convergence they keep moving forward usefully for their own constituencies. If anybody knows of efforts to detail differences or possible solutions across these projects I'd really like to hear about it.


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Converging bibliographic standards needs? | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 editorial, 0 pending) | Post A Comment
Converging information standards needs... (none / 0) (#1)
by ksclarke (ksclarke @ stanford no spam dot edu) on Wed Apr 16th, 2003 at 11:57:44 AM EST
(User Info) http://www.stanford.edu/~ksclarke

It is also interesting to watch as some people begin to explore whether library information needs are that different from museums and other cultural institutions' information needs. There has been some interesting work mapping FRBR to CRM by Patrick LeBoeuf (doc | ppt). It is also instructive to see ABC to CRM mappings. Perhaps library information standards go widely unused by anyone but the library community because librarians (and often programmers) are, by nature, pragmatic people. We solve the issues at hand without looking to see whether there are patterns that could be generalized for use by other institutions of cultural knowledge.

I do not think there is really a problem with projects working in small groups as long as there is a cross-pollination of ideas (it is often easier to get work done in a small group). Sometimes "sligthly different objectives" are significant, though bridges should be made if possible. We are always interested in getting feedback about XOBIS and, in fact, are currently reviewing the comments we received on the alpha version with the goal of putting out a modified beta. We are also very interested in crosswalks between XOBIS and FRBR or CRM or MODS... any graduate students with a lot of time on your hands reading this? I agree this sort of thing would be really useful for all the projects.

I checked out the pybliographer list but the old list (link from their webpage) is offline as of 11am 4/16. Their new SF list is not yet archived. If they are moving the list to SF, I hope they keep the archives available. I would be interested in hearing what they concluded about storage model.


Out, out brief candle!
... it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
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converging standards (none / 0) (#4)
by inkdroid on Thu Apr 17th, 2003 at 08:52:53 AM EST
(User Info) http://www.inkdroid.org

In a way, it's kind of ironic that so many standards are springing up which use XML. I like using XML, and plan to continue to use it. When XML was released I kind of got caught up in the maelstrom of hype and thought that XML was going to clear up alot of the problems that people had when exchanging data as flat files and the like. But it seems that now instead of arguing about the order of columns or the width of fields, we argue about the types of tags to use, and what the schema of the month is. I guess it just points out to me that the challenges of data interchange are not technological, but all too human ones of bringing people together to work together.

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Here is good website (none / 0) (#19)
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Converging bibliographic standards needs? | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 editorial, 0 pending) | Post A Comment
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