May 22, 2018

When You Free the Data From MARC You Are the Roy

logoCode4Lib is a unique place. I don’t know of another space like it in the library world. It has inside jokes all over the place, from the love of bacon, to the poking of fun at OCLC as an organization and me as an individual. Both myself and my employer (OCLC) are good for it, and we both engage with and support this community with what I hope is friendly good humor.

From the perspective of the organization, OCLC has been the single largest and most consistent sponsor of the Code4Lib Conference since the beginning. I like to think I had something to do with that. I’ve been an active participant in the Code4Lib community for many years, thanks to Dan Chudnov, who first turned me on to what was at the time a nascent group of library coders. What it has grown into has astonished me and likely others who were early participants.

So recently when there began a Code4Lib meme about “Roy4Lib” (believe me, you had to be there), I wasn’t surprised. But for me, the apex of the inside joke was this post by my friend Ross Singer:

When you’re alone and you think you hear the tinkling of ice cubes in a glass and the faint smell of Scotch, that was Roy.

That person building a treehouse as you drive past, that was Roy.

Out of the corner of your eye, there was a mustached man, that was Roy.

When you delete a MARC record, you are the Roy.

Clearly all of this had precedent, from my love of single malts to my legacy of building treehouses, to my ever-present mustache (which my daughters have forbidden me from shaving), to my throwing down the gauntlet that “MARC Must Die” way back in 2002. And Ross had it almost, completely, thoroughly, right.

But I have one small quibble. I don’t want you to delete a MARC record, I want you to free the data from MARC. And thankfully, this is exactly what we are doing at OCLC, where I work.

I wrote about just one of our most recent efforts here. But we have been doing this for a while. And we will continue to do so, while at the same time supporting MARC as the current foundational standard for library data.

But feel free to go forth and crowbar the data out of MARC. Be the Roy.

Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.