A weblog following developments around the world in FRBR: Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records.

Maintained by William Denton, Web Librarian at York University. Suggestions and comments welcome at wtd@pobox.com.

Confused? Try What Is FRBR? (2.8 MB PDF) by Barbara Tillett, or Jenn Riley's introduction. For more, see the basic reading list.

Books: FRBR: A Guide for the Perplexed by Robert Maxwell (ISBN 9780838909508) and Understanding FRBR: What It Is and How It Will Affect Our Retrieval Tools edited by Arlene Taylor (ISBN 9781591585091) (read my chapter FRBR and the History of Cataloging).


May 2007
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Posted by: William Denton, 4 May 2007 10:10 am
Categories: RDA,Semantic Web

Exciting news came out yesterday about a Monday-Tuesday meeting at the British Library with bigwigs from RDA and Dublin Core. (Remember, RDA is Resource Description and Access, an in-progress revision to cataloguing rules, and the Dublin Core Metadata Intitiative (DCMI) is behind a widespread and fairly simple metadata schema, Dublin Core. RDA and DC are sometimes contrasted because the former is (or will be) a huge book full of complicated rules and DC can be used extremely casually.)


The meeting participants agreed that RDA and DCMI should work together to build on the existing work of both communities.

The participants recommend that the RDA Committee of Principals and DCMI seek funding for work to develop an RDA Application Profile — specifically that the following activities be undertaken:

  • development of an RDA Element Vocabulary
  • development of an RDA DC Application Profile based on FRBR and FRAD
  • disclosure of RDA Value Vocabularies using RDF/RDFS/SKOS


The benefits of this activity will be that:

  • the library community gets a metadata standard that is compatible with the Web Architecture and that is fully interoperable with other Semantic Web initiatives
  • the DCMI community gets a libraries application profile firmly based on the DCAM and FRBR (which will be a high profile exemplar for others to follow)
  • the Semantic Web community get a significant pool of well thought-out metadata terms to re-use
  • there is wider uptake of RDA

UPDATE: Don’t miss this wiki set up for the meeting, with lists and notes and links and useful background information. Thanks to Christine Schwartz for pointing it out; I missed it in all the excitement.

Karen Coyle’s Astonishing Announcement: RDA Goes 2.0 says “The call for a modernization of the library approach to metadata has been heard…. This is nothing short of revolutionary.” She does a mini-interview with Dublin Core honcho Diane Hillman, who says about the proposed vocabulary: “It will look something like the Dublin Core registered terms…. Having the formal vocabulary means that there can be a testbed for the many and complex relationships that are being expressed in RDA, FRBR and FRAD.”

Alistair Miles was one of the people at the meeting, and in RDA: Resource Description and Access he says, “The main outcome of the meeting was a proposal to jointly develop a new Dublin Core Application Profile for libraries, based on the RDA and on FRBR. The profile would also be closely linked to the ePrints application profile developed in the UK for Intute. The ePrints AP is an example of how the Dublin Core community is moving beyond the “15 elements” towards providing a general framework to support rich and highly structured metadata, via the Dublin Core Abstract Model [latest draft].”

(Heery and Patel define an application profile as “schemas which consist of data elements drawn from one or more namespaces, combined together by implementors, and optimised for a particular local application.” There are lots of different kinds of metadata systems out there, and chances are if you’re doing some work and need some metadata, you need a few terms from this one, a few from that one, and one from over there. Or perhaps one existing system has everything you need, but in fact it has too much, so you pick out of it just what you need. You write up your own set of rules about how you’re going to use the elements you picked for your particular circumstances, and that’s an application profile.)

Finally, in RDA/FRBR and the Semantic Web, Ed Summers points out that this is what Ian Davis, Richard Newman, and Bruce D’Arcus began in 2005: Expression of Core FRBR Concepts in RDF. Last June Ian Davis posted Harry Potter in FRBR where he showed what a FRBRization of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire can look in RDF. When the new work is done, we can FRBRize the same book again and see what’s different in the new rules.

The RDA + DC announcement is very interesting. Among other things, the work will bring some very useful standardization and formalization to all this stuff. We’ll have a standard set of terms that everyone can use, whether they’re reading Resource Description and Access and cataloguing a book at the National Library of Canada or whanging some metadata into a blog’s RSS feed in New Delhi. Also, we’ll have an application profile and defined rules about how to use it and express it in formats like RDF. Everyone everywhere can use the same words, with agreed-upon meanings, when they want to use RDA and FRBR and FRAD to describe things. I bet a lot of people will use it.


  1. Whatever this team does, they should make absolutely sure to get Ian Davis involved. Beyond having a major role in FRBR-in-RDF (my role was small), he’s an RDF expert who comes to the library world from a different place (web development, RSS, etc.), and so tends to have a fresh perspective on things that I really think these sorts of library efforts need. He’s also a nice guy.

    Comment by Bruce D'Arcus — 4 May 2007 @ 9:54 am
  2. [...] FRBR blog wird darauf hingewiesen, dass die zurzeit entwickelten Katalogisierungsregeln Resource Description and Access (als [...]

    Pingback by IB Weblog » Blog Archive » RDA und Dublin Core — 4 May 2007 @ 10:45 am
  3. [...] I share the generalized optimism toward the recent announcement of the DC/RDA joint project. [...]

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  4. More on the RDA Data Models Meeting…

    Don’t miss William Denton’s excellent post on the RDA Data Models Meeting. He provides a link to a post from one of the attendees, Alistair Miles, an expert in the area of the Semantic Web. It was there that I…

    Trackback by Cataloging Futures — 12 May 2007 @ 5:11 pm
  5. [...] remained – who else works on a bibliographic ontology? The only  other projects I could refer were the RDA and Dublin Core collaboration and DCMI Abstract Model and [...]

    Pingback by Corrib Cluster Blog » Meeting with Tom Gruber — 24 May 2007 @ 2:52 am
  6. [...] remained – who else works on a bibliographic ontology? The only  other projects I could refer were the RDA and Dublin Core collaboration and DCMI Abstract Model and [...]

    Pingback by eLITE Project Blog » Blog Archive » Meeting with Tom Gruber — 24 May 2007 @ 2:55 am
  7. [...] in their catalog. That, and I’ve interviewed both Karen Coyle and Diane Hillman about the historic RDA/DC agreement that would help take library data out of its silo on onto the Semantic Web. In my mind, all three [...]

    Pingback by Free Range Librarian » Blog Archive » Other trends: Maricopa, Phoenix, and RDA/DC — 16 June 2007 @ 8:54 am
  8. [...] ser dog ud til, at folkene bag RDA og Dublin Core arbejder på at få gjort vores data anvendelige i en net-baseret verden. Og der er en [...]

    Pingback by information er en proces » Blog Archive » Det semantiske net og dataformater — 26 June 2007 @ 7:44 am

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