Beyond MARC: Building the New Bibliographic Framework

A few years ago, we informed you about changes to MARC records based on a new set of cataloging rules called Resource Description and Access (RDA) and that RDA records are available through BTSB. To find out when your library will be able to use RDA records, check with your circulation system vendor. Now that those rule changes are in effect at the Library of Congress (LC), they are preparing the next phase of changes for bibliographic records that RDA has made possible. The next phase is intended to move away altogether from using MARC as a format for bibliographic records to a more flexible and expansive format.

The future format is called the Bibliographic Framework, or BIBFRAME for short. It will be a completely different layout and won’t resemble the MARC format at all. If anything, it looks more like web-based codes like XML and will be used within Resource Description Framework (RDF) documents. In other words, RDF using a little bit of XML will be the outer shell and BIBFRAME will be the guts.

Last year, LC did early testing with academic libraries and national libraries in several nations with some input from other industries outside libraries. This year they plan to do formal testing with vendors included. In late 2015 or early 2016, LC plans to implement the new format. However, LC anticipates the BIBFRAME records will coexist in the library world alongside MARC records for at least 10 years after they implement BIBFRAME. BIBFRAME’s purpose is to make electronic information housed within databases at various organizations more accessible in Internet search engine results, in contrast to how it is now where one often has to go to an agency or organization’s website to do a search to access their documents or holdings. BIBFRAME is also being designed as a format to be used in any industry, not just libraries.

BTSB will be experimenting with the BIBFRAME format over the next couple of years. If any district or public library is going to be experimenting with BIBFRAME as well, let us know so we can work with you as a test site when we’re ready.

To find out more about it, you can visit or

Here’s a very brief comparison between MARC and how the same title and author information would look in BIBFRAME:


100 1  a|Stewart, Melissa.
245 10 a|Zoom in on dragonflies /
       c|Melissa Stewart.


<rdf:type rdf:resource=""/>
    <rdf:type rdf:resource=""/>
    <bf:authorizedAccessPoint>Stewart, Melissa. Zoom in on dragonflies 
    <bf:title>Zoom in on dragonflies</bf:title>

If this brief comparison sparked your interest and you want to see an unabridged version of this comparison, you can click the following link: