The draft report of the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control is out! Comments are open until 15 December, and the group says it will submit the final report to the Library of Congress by 9 January 2008.
It came to my attention recently that not everyone — not even all librarians! — cares about bibliographic control. Yah boo sucks to them, says I. Today we expect the release of the Working Group on the Future of the Bibliographic Control‘s draft report. While we wait, especially to see what they say about FRBR, FRAD, and RDA, I’ll clear out a backlog of recent links I haven’t mentioned. Get ready for the deluge, people.
- ngc4lib threads mentioning FRBR: see “NGC4LIB evaluation?” and “Trouble with FRBR/RDA.”
- From the web4lib archives, Lars Aronsson’s FRBR and Beyond — Can You Draw It? Follow the thread.
- AUTOCAT is all over this like maple syrup on a pancake, too.
- Christine Schwartz, Testing FRBR, with a pointer to Jennifer Bowen’s FRBR: Coming Soon to Your Library? (923 KB PDF)
- Jenn Riley, A Bright Future for Bibliographic Control.
- Laura J. Smart, LoC Future of Bibliographic Control and RDA.
Some other stuff:
- A Koha commit: Enabling FRBR system pref for OPAC, to enable/disable display of other editions.
- Back in March 2007, Julie Webster-Matthews of LexisNexis wrote Got FRBR?. She says this blog “has become the ‘official’ conduit of information related to FRBR.” Note the proper use of scare quotes.
Jonathan Rochkind posted FRBR Imperfect? So Then? on this blog yesterday. Go read the whole thing right now, but here’s a quote:
[W]e desperately need what FRBR is trying to do—a formal and explicit schematic of how we model the “bibliographic” (or “information resource”) universe. Some agree that we desperately need this, some don’t and think it’s all a bunch of hot air. I’ve made my case for why we need it before, and probably ought to do so again in more polished form.
But those of us who agree that we desperately need this, AND that FRBR is an untested and imperfect attempt to do this—then what? Either we:
- continue to work to improve, analyze, empirically test and validate, and fix FRBR;
- we start over from scratch with something else (which will also need to then be tested by fire etc);
- or we abandon FRBR and do nothing.
I think the last would be disastrous. The second also seems undesirable to me—FRBR is the thing we’ve got, and despite being imperfect and unfinished, a lot of work has gone into it. How do we get closer to our goal by abandoning what we’ve got and starting over from scratch?
To me it seems obvious, that if FRBR is untested, incomplete, and imperfect, the answer is to test it (in many ways), analyze it, start putting it into practice so we can learn what the issues are, and work to resolve them.
Jenny Levine asks Does FRBR cover games?
Yes. A work is defined in the Final Report as “a distinct intellectual or artistic creation.” Lost Cities or Settlers of Catan or Clue or Dungeons and Dragons are all such things. (D&D gets FRBRily complicated very quickly — all those versions and rulebooks and modules and so on.) An expression is “the intellectual or artistic realization of a work in the form of alpha-numeric, musical, or choreographic notation, sound, image, object, movement, etc., or any combination of such forms.” For a game like Clue, that would be the conception of the rooms, the board, the rules, the people, the wrench and the rope, etc., but all as abstract notions, not yet made real. When realized in a manifestation (“the physical embodiment of the expression of a work”) we have the pieces, rules, board, and box all put together in a run at the manufacturer’s. Then we can go out and buy an item, in this case a box labelled Clue with a bunch of stuff in it, “a single examplar of a manifestation.”
FRBR applies to games because it applies to any product of intellectual or artistic creation. Clue and other board games are more complicated then this brief sketch, though, because in some sense each part of the game is its own work, so the manifestation (a box) includes manifestations of many different but related works. This is the problem of aggregates: how do you handle something that’s made up of lots of other things? Of course, not everyone would care about that level of detail for board games, but some people might, and it’s a good test of FRBR.
What about variations on the games, like the British version of Monopoly or Clue with characters from The Simpsons? I think those would be works too, derivative works.
How to handle bridge and backgammon I’m not so sure. Any ideas? Would bridge exist as a work with all sorts of different expressions over the decades, depending on whether it’s duplicate or contract, according to Hoyle, etc.? Maybe FRBR would treat games whose origins are lost the same way as it treats folk tales and songs whose origins are lost. Though I’m not sure what that is!
It’s taken a while to recover from the wild excitement of the week before last, what with the RDA announcement and the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. The draft of their report will be out later this week and I’ll definitely link to it, but so will practically every other library blog in existence, so don’t worry that it’s going to sneak by you.
I listened to the WoGroFuBiCo webcast and it was fascinating. Excellent stuff, quickly and efficiently told. I look forward to the report, but I recommend the webcast to you too. If you have access to a Unix/Linux command line, you can convert the RealVideo stream to an MP3 with these commands:
mplayer rtsp://rmserv1.loc.gov/avloc04/071113lis1330.rm -ao pcm:file=wogrofubico.wav lame -b 32 wogrofubico.wav wogrofubico.mp3
That’s what I did, and at the 61 minute mark I heard the summary of recommendation 4.2, about FRBR: “Immediately … develop a comprehensive test plan for FRBR…. Until these tests are completed and until the results have been analyzed, we recommend that the Joint Steering Committee temporarily suspend further new work on the development of RDA.” The full explanation is longer, of course, but instead of transcribing it we can wait a few days to read the whole thing in the report.
Around 74 minutes Barbara Tillett, who works at the Library of Congress and is one of the people working on RDA, comments that a lot of what was recommended the Library of Congress is already doing. She doesn’t mention the recent change in approach at RDA, but her question and the responses are very interesting listening.
Exciting times in cataloguing!
The Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control’s webcast (Real Video, 88 minutes), is now available online. If you missed it before, now you can see it at your leisure. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ve read some the discussion about it.
Janet Hill on AUTOCAT, in Working Group Report/Meeting, sent a lengthy and informative post, ending with:
One of the things that we have tried to do in this report, is to provide both a vision of a future, AND to recommend things that need to be done in the interim. In other words, we aren’t recommending implementation of a future that isn’t here yet. I suspect that there will be very few recommendations that cause much angst in any quarter. The only recommendation that might cause a stir was our recommendation to suspend further developmental work on RDA until after FRBR has been more adequately tested on real data and the results of those tests can be analyzed.
Isn’t this a chicken-and-egg question? If work on RDA is suspended, then we’ve lost the most useful instrument for testing the FRBR model on real data. I can see how one might want to postpone implementation of RDA until it could be demonstrated that the FRBR model, as expressed in RDA, was a viable basis for organizing bibliographic metadata (which might or might not mean postponing beyond 2009), but I can’t see how this entails suspending development work on RDA, especially in light of the results of the most recent JSC meeting (which seem aimed at aligning RDA even more closely with FRBR/FRAD and ER/OO models).
You make a reasonable point, but all of us, even the most technologically oriented, and even those who were most likely to champion RDA, were in agreement that if (for example) there are some areas where systems can’t actually handle the concepts, it makes little sense to write a set of rules based on the assumption that system capability CAN. Further, as I noted in the presentation, although we connected our recommendation about RDA to FRBR testing, there were other areas of concern about RDA (which will get into the report), that JSC may be able to address while the FRBR testing is going on.
It may also be useful to know that we were not originally going to make this recommendation. Early on, our general thought was that we should recommend that FRBR and RDA be implemented as quickly as possible, that continued delay of what looked like the inevitable was creating difficulties in moving forward. It was only after considerable discussion as we actually put together our recommendations and saw how they were hanging together, that we realized that we needed to make the recommendation we did.
In the blog world, Karen Coyle posted her notes on the meeting, and you’ll want to read the whole thing, but I’ll just pick out one recommendation she mentions:
4.2 Realize FRBR. The framework known as FRBR has great potential but so far is untested. It is being used as the basis for RDA, even though FRBR itself is not clearly understood. The working group recommends that no further work be done on RDA until= there has been more investigation of FRBR and the basis it provides for bibliographic metadata. [Note: this recommendation is likely to change such that there will be specific recommendations relating to RDA; FRBR will be treated separately.]
How this will fit together with the decision to redo Resource Description and Access and base it much more closely on FRBR and FRAD, I don’t know. Both groups were working simultaneously and I don’t know how much interplay there was or how much each knew what the other was thinking.
Building a de-facto standard based upon a conceptual model which isn’t clearly understood seems kind of bass-ackward. Is it realistic, however, to wait for FRBR to be better understood? We’ve had it for almost a decade. Let me play devil’s advocate for a second. If a conceptual model is difficult to understand than maybe it’s not a very good model? It’s one argument for a do-over on writing RDA.
On Monday I pointed out the much-anticipated webcast from the Library of Congress’s Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control.
The webcast was so popular that no-one was actually able to see it. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on AUTOCAT, and Christine Schwartz’s holiday was ruined. Naturally I attribute much of the interest to the possibility that FRBR would be mentioned.
An archived video of the presentation will go online soon, and the report itself will be available on 30 November. I’ll report on any mentions of FRBR, FRAD, or FRSAR.
Outcomes of the Meeting of the Joint Steering Committee [for the Development of RDA] Held in Chicago, USA, 15-20 October 2007 shows the committee’s response to the feedback it’s been getting about the structure of Resource Description and Access. I quote at length to reflect the increased FRBRosity:
At the meeting, the JSC agreed on a new organization for RDA. This organization was suggested by the Editor based on the following concerns expressed by the constituencies:
- That the organization of RDA was too closely based on current database structures of linked bibliographic and authority records,
when the ultimate aim is a relational / object-oriented database structure [ACOC].
(See 5JSC/Editor/2 for details of the database implementation scenarios.)
- That organization of RDA is insufficiently aligned with Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) [ALA].
- That the inclusion of relationships between works and expressions in Part A, Chapter 7, is inappropriate [LC].
The new organization relates data elements more closely to both FRBR entities and user tasks.The existing Part A and Part B will be replaced by ten sections which fall into two groups, focusing on recording the attributes of each of the FRBR entities and on recording relationships between these entities, respectively:
Section 1 – Recording attributes of manifestation and item
Section 2 – Recording attributes of work and expression
Section 3 – Recording attributes of person, family, and corporate body
Section 4 – Recording attributes of concept, object, event, and place
Section 5 – Recording primary relationships between work, expression, manifestation, and item
Section 6 – Recording relationships to persons, families, and corporate bodies associated with a resource
Section 7 – Recording relationships to concepts, objects, events, and places associated with a work
Section 8 – Recording relationships between works, expressions, manifestations and items
Section 9 – Recording relationships between persons, families, and corporate bodies
Section 10 – Recording relationships between concepts, objects, events, and places
Each section will contain a chapter of general guidelines and chapters for the entities. Each chapter will be associated with one of the FRBR user tasks and one or more FRBR entities; for example, chapter 2 in section 1 will cover elements primarily used to identify a manifestation or item and chapter 19 in section 6 will cover elements primarily used to find a work. The chapters on recording attributes and relationships for the FRBR group 3 entities (concept, object, event, and place) will be placeholders, provided to allow a complete mapping to FRBR and FRAD and as a template for possible future development of RDA to cover these entities. Instructions on recording the attributes and relationships for places have been included,
but will not initially go beyond the scope of AACR2 chapter 23.
Very interesting! “Each chapter will be associated with one of the FRBR user tasks and one or more FRBR entities” sounds like a great approach, and completely different from AACR.
Catching up on past blog mentions: Dodie Gaudet’s FRBR, AACR2 and RDA: Changes in Cataloging from mid-October is a general overview of what’s going on with said acronyms and standards, aimed at her colleagues in Massachusetts.
However, it seems that very few people are happy with RDA. Many think the guidelines are too general and will result in inconsistent bibliographic records that are less likely to be shared among libraries. Others feel RDA is too much like AACR2 and will not be as easy to use for non-print media as they had hoped.
What does all of this mean for the cataloger in a small library that uses Library of Congress or OCLC for its source of cataloging? Probably not much right now. RDA is due out in the spring of 2009, and that’s an optimistic goal. The bibliographic records for books, CDs, and DVDs will likely continue to look very much the same for a while. The biggest impact will be on the “one of a kind” works.
The Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control is issuing its draft report tomorrow, and you can watch it on a live webcast at 1:30 PM EST. It’ll be open for comments until 15 December. I’m sure FRBR will be mentioned somewhere.