Academic journal article Alexandria

The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek Reports: Germany and Austria's Migration Project 'Moving to MARC 21'

Academic journal article Alexandria

The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek Reports: Germany and Austria's Migration Project 'Moving to MARC 21'

Article excerpt


The question of the internationalization of library standards has been a point of discussion in Germany for a number of years. Although financial rationalization was always a consideration, the primary motivating factor for the decision to proceed was improved usability for the library user. It is in everyone's interest that the richness of the bibliographic data developed and gathered worldwide be made accessible to information seekers through familiar, userfriendly and homogeneous systems (Gömpel and Niggemann, 2002). Although the data exchange facet of the international objectives does not directly address the issue of consistent information searches for users, it lays the groundwork by ensuring that bibliographic data is available universally. The migration to the common data exchange format MARC 21, that is improved record sharing between libraries, is a major step towards that goal. The German National Library (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, DNB), which under legal deposit collects all German and German-language publications from 1913 on, is a service provider first and foremost for German libraries, publishers and the book trade. After the changeover, the many libraries across Germany with special collection mandates will also be able to receive records from abroad through MARC 2 1 and thus be in a much better position to complete the data in terms of international material offered to users. However, through the internationalization of standards, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek would thereby also be able to offer its data to virtually all libraries which collect similar material worldwide, offering enrichment to relevant collections internationally.

In December 2004, the Committee for Library Standards (Standardisierungsausschuss)1, which represents library institutions and networks of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (Gömpel, 2009a), confirmed its readiness to improve the exchange and interoperability of data by introducing major changes in national library standards. As a part of this strategy, which would also look at adopting international rules for description and access, it was decided to move from the national data exchange format, MAB2 (Maschinelles Austauschformat für Bibliotheken) to the international standard MARC 21 in Germany and Austria, Switzerland having completed its changeover to MARC 21 in the 1990s. In the introduction of the community- wide application of the standard, the German National Library2 and its Office for Library Standards would take on the responsibility for the overall project coordination and the Expert Group for Data Formats (Expertengruppe für Datenformate) the development and maintenance of bibliographic data formats.

On 30 June 2009, Germany and Austria's migration to MARC 21 project came to completion, meaning that the groundwork for the implementation of the format in Germany and Austria was laid and national and international data exchange in the MARC 21 format could begin. The project's successful completion over the past five years has depended on the close cooperation of many partners. Funding has come from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)3 and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, procedural decisions and organization from the Committee for Library Standards and the Office for Library Standards and the Expert Group for Data Formats the MARC Standards Office at the Library of Congress and the Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information committee (MARBI).


The core of the technical preparations for the changeover were, firstly, the mapping of M AB2 to MARC 21 and the design of an editorial support system at the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek affectionately named POLLY (Platform for Operational Layers in the Librar Y), to hold the translation of MARC 21 into German. The third cornerstone of the migration revolved around public relations work. Strategies for supportive communication included the translation of the standard into German, workshops for experts and the general library community and systems developers and cultivation of contacts with international committees and experts. …

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