I’m at the IFLA 2008 conference in Quebec City, and just got out of the first meeting of the FRBR Review Group. Here are some notes for those of you who couldn’t be here. I’m writing this on my Eee in the lobby of the convention centre, so forgive me for hyperlink skimpiness.
The meeting began at 8:30 AM in a room that was as far away from the entrance to the convention centre as seems humanly possible. Chairs were set up in the room and there was a table for the Review Group members to sit at … but the chairs all faced away from the table. About eighteen observers were present so we all had to turn our chairs around to face the table, which left us staring at the backs of half of the Review Group. Seven of nine of them were present.
Patricia Riva, chair, distributed the agenda, the annual report (which will go online sometime soon, I think), and a report from Gordon Dunsire which was discussed later. She explained some business about terms of service on the Group and renewals and elections etc.
Next she went through the annual report:
- Various new translations of the FRBR Final Report have been done: Chinese, German, etc.
- Some objectives from the strategic plan were met, for example the amendments to the definition of the Expression entity were made.
- They will be thinking about further changes to FRBR that might be necessary given work on FRAD, FRSAR, FRBRoo, etc., and working with those groups, the ISBD people, etc.
- Work on FRBRoo is continuing. Draft 0.9 came out earlier this year and comments will be reviewed at another meeting. Work on the RDF namespace is continuing. More on both of these below.
- They will support implementations: “Moral support,” said Pat Riva, “we don’t have a budget.”
- Patrick LeBoeuf would like someone to take over the FRBR Bibliography. Some discussion of that.
- Some discussion of the mailing list
Ed O’Neill of OCLC is chair of the Working Group on Aggregates. They are meeting Thursday so nothing is final yet, but he talked about what they’d done and what they generally agreed on. An aggregate is “a bibliographic unit comprised of multiple works,” they all say. The Expression amendment meant changes to thinking about aggregates, because it shifted some things (like a work with a new introduction) from being a new expression of a work to being two aggregate works. Is a bibliographic unit an aggregate or a work in itself? He said the amendment about doubled the number the number of aggregates out there. It puts the emphasis on the intellectual side, not the physical manifestation, and they’re thinking along the same lines. “Is a journal an aggregate of articles, or is it a work in its own right comprised of parts?” Thursday they will review some guidelines that will help people decide on such matters.
O’Neill said the FRBR Report is vague on exactly what a Work is, which makes it hard to discuss aggregates. Lots of nodding at that. He said there were three approaches to thinking about modelling:
- work of works model: there’s a hierarchy of works, for example a journal is a work made up of other works
- manifestation of works model: an aggregate is not a work in itself, it is a manifestation of works
- work of parts model: the simplest but least attractive intellectually; a collection of novels by a writer is a work, and the novels are just parts of it.
The three models are incompatible, but they all have advocates. In a report (not available online, I don’t think) they tried modelling different aggregates with each of the three models to see how they looked.
More will be known after the Thursday meeting. They are determined to be done before the IFLA meeting in Milan next year.
Next was an update on the FRBR/CRM FRBRoo collaboration. The draft received some comments, and they will give close scrutiny to any major problems at the next meeting in a couple of days, and then wrap everything up by e-mail. People are starting to use FRBRoo and want a stable finished version, so they’re going to push along to wrap it up.
The last major thing in the meeting was about representing FRBR in RDF and setting up a proper schema and namespace. Gordon Dunsire had done a project to get this going and you can see his work in the NSDL metadata registry sandbox:
These will be moved out of the sandbox and into the proper registry soon and become provisional.
There was a lengthy discussion about what to do next, mostly involving administrative and organizational questions that you’d expect at any international organization. I’ll skip them. The upshot of it all is that the Review Group will recommend that IFLA get things in place so that an IFLA namespace exists where this FRBR schema (and expected schemas for FRAD and FRSAR, and who know what else around IFLA) can be housed. “Everything is moving in the direction of the Semantic Web,” Dunsire said, and IFLA should be ready.
So after review and approval and the finding of a proper home, there will be an official RDF schema representing FRBR, authoritative and accurate, properly maintained, under version control, etc.
After all that time was running out. Priorities for future work are the RDF schema and the namespace, and FRBRoo. “Attributes in general are an issue,” Riva said, and perhaps there will be a working group on them. The meeting was adjourned a little after 10:30.