There’s a new major version of pymarc out today. This was largely the work of Andrew Hankinson, David Dowling and Jon Stroop, as well as the generous people who discussed the proposed changes on the mailing list.

I don’t think I could have predicted that I’d still be working with MARC back when I first started writing some Perl to make my cataloging job a bit easier 25 years ago. Bibliographic data is why I got back into computer programming, but about 10 years ago my interest turned more towards digital preservation, and web archiving in particular. So it feels like coming full circle to find myself in the middle of an ILS migration project where processing vendor supplied MARC is something we’re doing.

Six years ago Roy Tennant ruminated on his “MARC Must Die” proclamation that he had made 15 years prior. It seems we are still working on replacing MARC, and that Roy has now retired. (congrats Roy!)

It’s difficult to get the political will to replace workflows that are working. Here on May Day, it seems fitting to remember this format that has done so much work, and is still working.

Looking back I also think it’s important to recognize at this stage that perhaps the goal hasn’t been to replace MARC so much as it has been to develop new file formats for describing the things you might put in a library and sharing them with others.

It’s a bit of a paradox how web resources can be so fleeting and impermanent, while data formats (like MARC) that circulate by virtue of the web can turn out to be so resilient.