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).


November 2009
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Styles, Bringing FRBR Down to Earth

Posted by: William Denton, 13 November 2009 7:22 am
Categories: Blog Mentions

Lots of people have been linking to Rob Styles’s Bringing FRBR Down to Earth.

Wuthering Heights is a work by Emily Bronte, realized in a written expression of the same name. The written expression is embodied in several different manifestations each of which is exemplified by many items, one of which I hold in my hand.

… The difficulty I, and I suspect many others, have is that I don’t ever use any of those words. They’re too abstract to be useful. FRBR generalises its model and in that generalisation loses a great deal. Let’s talk about it using more natural language.

Wuthering Heights is a story by Emily Bronte. It was originally published as a novel in 1847 and has subsequently been made into a movie (several times) and re-published in many languages beyond its original English. It has been republished in many editions and as a part of many collections. It features several fictitious people including Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. The author, Emily Bronte, had sisters who authored several other novels, though she authored only this one. Emily Bronte is also the subject of several biographies. I have the paperback in my hand right now.

I don’t have any of those problems and think FRBR as it is, with extra labels for things, handles the situation quite clearly. Rob’s more human-readable version could easily be modelled by FRBR and using those words without the WEMI structure would confuse things. But then, I edit this blog, and I’m definitely not one of the many others who don’t ever use those words, so who knows?


  1. [...] Styles, Bringing FRBR Down to Earth (source: The FRBR Blog, [...]

    Pingback by Catalo & co (15/11/09) « pintiniblog — 16 November 2009 @ 12:32 pm
  2. Did you ever use the words in WEMI in the way that FRBR does _before_ reading about FRBR?

    Do you ever use them, in the way that FRBR specifies, _except_ in the context of discussing FRBR?


    Comment by Rob Styles — 20 November 2009 @ 9:59 am
  3. No and yes. I use them when talking to non-librarians if it’s helpful to clarify a point in conversation. This doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, it seems to work, though we don’t get into a discussion about the details because we’re talking about something else (textual criticism, audiobooks, whatever).

    Comment by William Denton — 27 November 2009 @ 1:44 am

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