MarcEdit’s Research Toolkit – MARCNext

By reeset / On / In BibFrame, MarcEdit

While developing MarcEdit 6, one of the areas that I spent a significant amount of time working on was the MarcEdit Research Toolkit.  The Research Toolkit is an easter egg of sorts – it’s a set of tools and utilities that I’ve developed to support my own personal research interests around library metadata – specifically, around the future of library metadata including topics the current BibFrame testing and linked data.  I’ve kept these tools private because they tend to not be fully realized concepts or ideas and have very little in the way of a user interface.  Just as important, many of these tools represent work being created to engage in the conversation that the library community is having around library metadata formats and standards, so things can and do change or drop out of the conversation and are then removed from my toolkit.

While developing MarcEdit 6, one of the goals of the project was to find a way to make some or parts of these tools available to the general MarcEdit community.  To that end, I’ll be making a new area available within MarcEdit called MARCNext.  MARCNext will provide a space to make proof of concept tools available for anyone to use, and offer a simple to use interface that anyone can use to test new bibliographic concepts like BibFrame. 

Presently, I’m evaluating my current workbench to see which of the available tools can be made public.  I have a handful that I think may be applicable – but will need some time to move them from concept to a utility for public consumption.  With that said, I will be making one tool immediately available as part of the next MarcEdit update, and that will be the BibFrame Testbed.  This is code that utilizes the LC XQuery files being developed and distributed at: https://github.com/lcnetdev/marc2bibframe with a handful of changes made to provide better support within MarcEdit.  These are my base files that will enable librarians to easily model their MARC metadata in a variety of serializations.  And using this initial work, I’ll likely add some additional serializations to the list. 

I have two goals for making this particular tool available.  First and foremost, I would like to enable anyone that is interested the ability to take their existing library metadata and model it using Bibframe concepts.  Currently, Library of Congress makes available a handful of commandline tools that users can utilize to process their metadata – but these tools tend to not be designed for the average user.  By making this information available in MarcEdit – I’m hoping to lower the barrier so that anyone can model their data and then engage in the larger discussion around this work. 

Secondly, I’m currently engaging in some work with Zepheira and other early implementers to take Bibframe testing mainstream.  Given the number of users working with MarcEdit, it made a lot of sense to provide tools to support this level of integration.  Likewise, by taking the time to move this work from the concept stage, I’ve been able to develop the start of a framework around these concepts. 

So how is this going to work?  On the next update, you will see a new link within the Main MarcEdit Window called MARCNext. 

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MarcEdit Main Window

Click on the MARCNext link, and you will be taken to the public version of the Research Toolkit.  At this point, the only tool being made publically available is the BibFrame Testbed, though this will change.

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MarcEdit’s MARCNext Window

Selecting the BibFrame Testbed initializes a simple dialog box to allow a user to select from a variety of library metadata types and convert them using BibFrame principles into a user-defined serialization. 

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BibFrame Testbed window

As noted above, this test bed will be the first of a handful of tools that I will eventually be making available.  Will they be useful to anyone – who knows.  Honestly, the questions that these tools are working to answer are not ones that come up on the list serv, and at present, aren’t going to help much in one’s daily cataloging work.  But hopefully they will enable every cataloger that wants to, the ability to engage with some of these new metadata concepts and at least take their existing data and see how it may change utilizing different serializations and concepts.

Questions – feel free to ask.

–tr

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