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).


February 2010
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Last Week in FRBR #14

Posted by: William Denton, 6 February 2010 12:47 pm
Categories: Last Week

Hi. I usually get this out on Fridays, but I hope you don’t miss it because it’s coming out on Saturday this week. Seems like it was a slowish week in FRBRania. The first couple of pieces involve the RDA-L mailing list archives (RDA being, of course, the new cataloguing rules Resource Description and Access) and also Karen Coyle .

Mix and Match: Mashups of Bibliographic Data

Mix and Match: Mashups of Bibliographic Data at the recent American Library Association conference had people from Google talking about Google Books metadata, OCLC talking about ONIX, and the Open Library talking about the Open Library. Eric Hellman was there and wrote it up in Google Exposes Book Metadata Privates at ALA Forum, which a lot of people have been pointing out, including on RDA-L.

Karen Coyle, who was the Open Library person at the session, brought the four FRBR user tasks into talk about alphabetical ordering of titles:

In FRBR we have the four user tasks: find, identify, select, obtain. These are fully imbued with the assumption of user knowledge.

“to find entities that correspond to the user’s stated search criteria (i.e., to locate either a single entity or a set of entities in a file or database as the result of a search using an attribute or relationship of the entity);”

This seems to eliminate the possibility that the user could be successful in the library catalog with a need like: “I just finished Twilight and loved it. What else might I like?” Yet that is a legitimate query to bring to the library, and even to the library catalog. Perhaps we should spend some time re-writing the FRBR user tasks, expanding them to meet a wider variety of user needs. Then we could look at our catalogs and say: “What does this mean in terms of catalog functionality?” I maintain that alphabetical order will not be at the top of our list, but will probably appear along some user tasks.

Peter Murray was also there, and wrote it up in Mashups of Bibliographic Data: A Report of the ALCTS Midwinter Forum:

[From the OCLC section.] If there is an exact match for the incoming ONIX record in WorldCat, the WorldCat record is enhanced with certain fields from the ONIX record (descriptions, author biographies, web links) — being careful not to override authority work being done by libraries, but adding enhancements that libraries may not otherwise input. In turn, enhancements from exact match record and FRBR work set records (hardcover versus softcover versus audiobook, etc.) are added to the ONIX record (non-English subject headings, adding a Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) field from another similar record if one doesn’t already exist, change the author field to an authority-controlled version). If there is not an exact match for the ONIX record in WorldCat, a new WorldCat record is built from the ONIX record and it is subsequently enhanced by metadata found in the FRBR work set records.

RDA-L thread on RDA and granularity

Coyle began the RDA and Granularity thread prompted by a chat at a libary conference. As you can see from the archives it started a big long discussion that changed Subject. Somewhere in there John Myers posted in the Systems v Cataloging subthread:

[C]onsider the FRBR expression entity. A significant aspect in textual works between expressions is translation. We do have a 240 field to record that, but since the application of the rules for Uniform titles were left to the discretion of the cataloging agency, indication of an expression for a translation can also appear in a translation note recorded in tag 500, sometimes in conjunction with the 240 but oftentimes alone (as several thousand records in my catalog will attest). Now, if this data were consistently recorded in the 240 (both with respect to the format and to the application of use of the 240), then machine FRBR-ization of these records for translations would be relatively simple.

There was more FRBR discussion in the replies.

RDA National Test Update

Jennifer Eustis’s RDA National Test: Update points to Testing Resource Description and Access (RDA) at the Library of Congress, which sketches out how a bunch of libraries are going to test RDA before committing to use it. Because FRBR is fundamental to RDA, this will also be the biggest test so far of how FRBR helps bibliographic organization.

RDA vs. AACR2: Implications for Social Justice

On 11 January the New York City Radical Reference Collective ran RDA vs. AACR2: Implications for Social Justice, with Rick Block from Columbia University.

Jessica Lingel wrote notes on the session, which are worth reading. It looks like there was a good review of FRBR and RDA and where things are at, and then some interesting questions about that and the social justice and progressive side of cataloguing.

Question – what aspects of cataloging relate to issues of social justice?

It’s mostly a matter of subject headings. But even in descriptive cataloging, what gets included, what doesn’t has implications. RDA won’t so much change that, although it raise the question of personal archiving.

I’d never thought about this angle on FRBR and RDA. Very interesting subject. The first thing that strikes me is that in the linked data and Semantic Web approach anyone can say anything about anything. It will be much easier for people to apply their own sets or subsets of terminology to a group of things while still keeping connected with the rest of the universe, and for anyone else who wants to use that vocabulary to mix it in with their own system. This is a big improvement.

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