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Telematics for Libraries - Project


Updated: 04 AUG 98
Project Number and Title
2054 - User-controlled Generic MARC Converter
Programme/Action line Call Topic(s) Start End Project Duration
in Months
FP 3/ I Theme 2 February 1994 January 1997 36
bibliographic record conversion; library catalogues; MARC format converter; UNIMARC

Service packages to enhance international use of national bibliographic records (conversion programmes; delivery mechanisms; standards; etc.) (Theme 2)
Project description
In the (national) libraries in the European Community about ten different standards of MARC formats are being used. The goal of the project was to develop a toolbox able to convert bibliographic records from any MARC format into any other using UNIMARC as a central conversion format.

The objectives of the project were:

  • to produce a data-driven generic converter;
  • to enable the user, via a user-friendly interface, to define how the conversion is to take place between the source and the destination formats.
Technical approach
The project was organised into three phases, each subdivided into work-packages as follows:
  • Pre-design defining user requirements, conversion table data structures and a generic instruction set as a global design;
  • Feasibility study to identify problems, assess the technical capability of the global design which will address them and to carry out a market survey;
  • Functional design to convert the global design into a detailed functional specification;
  • Technical design to select programming tools and translate the functional specification into pseudo code;
  • Realisation of the prototype and alpha test;
  • Documentation - system and user manuals;
  • Field testing - beta functional testing at four library sites;
  • Evaluation review and justification, plus information dissemination to recognised experts, conference and event presentations, library training sessions and submission of national and international press articles.
Key issues
The main technical issues to be explored were:
  • validation of the use of UNIMARC as core format for the converter;
  • automatic filling of the reverse conversion tables;
  • feasibility of developing a user-friendly tool with no programming skills needed to use it.
Impact and results
UseMARCON will improve exchange of bibliographic information considerably, by making it easier for libraries to convert to and from the various MARC formats, without the need for programming expertise, so improving the exchange of bibliographic information between libraries.
  • specification for the conversion functions and conversion tables between different MARC formats;
  • software tool to convert MARC formats.
The most significant deliverable was the prototype converter software. Some other deliverables are classified as restricted or confidential, owing to commercial considerations. These include design and technical documentation, manuals and the project evaluation report.
Publicly available are:
  • User requirements report;
  • The Phase 1 feasibility report and market survey;
  • List of anticipated problems
  • Recommendations for future releases.
  • System and user manuals
  • UseMARCON Release 1.0 (compiled version).
  • Final report.

The deliverables are available via the project WEB site at: .

Software is available from: .


Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
Koninklijke Bibliotheek NL - 2509 LK THE HAGUE NL
Title, First Name, Name Trudi NOORDERMEER Address: PO Box 90407
E-mail 1: (email removed) E-mail 2:

Other Partners :

Name of Institution/Organisation Country Role
VNI Informatica & technologie (Phase 1 only) NL P
Instituto da Biblioteca Nacional e do Livro PT P
British Library UK P
Deutsche Bibliothek DE A

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