At the DLF forum, I saw a presentation from someone who’s name I forget from Bowker, where I learned two simple things very interesting to me.
I learned about the plans for an International Standard Text Code (ISTC), sort of like an ISBN but applies at the FRBR “expression” level, grouping a set of ISBNs. (Although Bowker seems to call what it applies to a ‘work’, it is in fact meant to apply only to things that are ‘textually identical’, which is what we call the expression level. It is also only meant to apply to textual material, not audio, video, etc. She claimed that audio and video already had something similar, although it wasn’t widely adopted. I know nothing about this?) This would potentially be quite useful, of course, to have an expression level identifier from the ISBN people. It also makes me think of how it might harmonize or not with the library world’s plans for ‘frbrization’–it’s being done for the needs of the publishing and sales industry, like ISBN. Of course, right now there’s not much for it to harmonize to in the library world, just talk.
I’ve been having writer’s block on writing the essay I intend about identifiers and ‘access points’. I think I need to stop thinking of trying to write the perfect essay and just put my unfinished sketchy notes on the blog, because I think it is a important topic–especially for talking about how what we’re doing relates to what everyone else is doing. We need to use compatible language and compatible mental models.
Anyway, the second interesting thing I learned is that a few months ago Bowker released a web service for accessing ISBN metadata. Which is packaged with Books in Print, meaning it’s free to anyone who already has an online Books in Print subscription (many if not most of us). I don’t know the details, but am eager to find them out and play with the service.
I like that pricing idea–hey, they’re already paying lots of money for BiP, they shouldn’t need to pay even more to get 21st century methods of access to that same content they are already paying for, we should instead improve the service to 2007 levels. If only more of our library vendors worked like that. Instead, we are often in the situation where the software we pay a fortune for is stuck in 1985, and if you want modern software you’ve got to purchase and continue to pay licensing and support for an additional add-on “product”. Ridiculous, and almost all of our vendors do it. (Perhaps the market requires them to do it that way to stay in business–if so, the market is doomed and their time in business is limited anyway. Hopefully not along with ours.)