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).


July 2010
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Last Week in FRBR #29

Posted by: William Denton, 23 July 2010 7:56 am
Categories: Last Week

Works in RDF at Open Library

There is now a functioning RDF for Works, said Karen Coyle, pointing to http://openlibrary.org/works/OL6037025W.rdf and http://openlibrary.org/works/OL1073963W.rdf as examples. Yes, that’s RDF expressed in raw XML, and it’s ugly to read, but you’re not meant to read it with your eye, it’s meant for machines. And now there’s Work-level linked data at the Open Library!

Hellman, What IS an eBook, Anyway

What IS an eBook, Anyway?, asked Eric Hellman. Does each different format of an ebook require a different ISBN? Apparently the answer is yes. Hellman agrees, and goes into some detail about the whole issue, saying “the ISBN is just a solution to a problem: ‘How does an item get tracked through the book supply chain?'” Things get FRBRy in the comments.

On Twitter, Hellman (@gluejar) said, I usually get work, expression and manifestation confused. Must be a manifestation of working too hard on my expression.

Powell, Finding e-Books — A Discovery to Delivery Problem

Andy Powell’s blog post Finding e-Books — A Discovery to Delivery Problem follows nicely on that, in a long post from which I excerpt this juicy bit:

But, let’s ignore that for now [the question of what is an e-book] … we know that OCLC’s xISBN service allows us to navigate different editions of the same book (I’m desperately trying not to drop into FRBR-speak here). Taking a quick look at the API documentation for xISBN yesterday, I noticed that the metadata returned for each ISBN can include both the fact that something is a ‘Book’ and that it is ‘Digital’ (form == ‘BA’ && form == ‘DA’) – that sounds like the working definition of an e-book to me (at least for the time being) – as well as listing the ISBNs for all the other editions/formats of the same book. So I knocked together a quick demonstrator. The result is e-Book Finder and you are welcome to have a play. To get you started, here are a couple of examples:

Sime, Frrr Brrr Scottish Play

Frrr Brrr Scottish Play is a slide deck by Peter Sime, showing how FRBR handles Macbeth and its numerous related Works, Expressions, and so on.

public-lld: Domain modelling and FRBR/FRSAD

Domain modeling and FRBR/FRSAD, from Jeff Young, on the public-lld mailing list of the W3C Library Linked Data Incubator Group, is heavy on the RDF (“From a domain modeling/OWL POV, Group1, Group2 and Group3 are pretty clearly associated with frsad:Thema by UML generalization/rdfs:subClassOf relationship”) but check out the diagram that’s attached, and the follow-up messages, for some interesting stuff. The RDF is in Turtle, not XML, so it’s more readable.


  1. It’s a good thing that someone is attempting to use FRBR in RFD, however, the RDF/XML examples from Open Library don’t validate [1].
    It is impossible to parse them into RDF because they use frbr:Manifestation XML elements as a direct children of frbr:Work elements, yet both refer to RDFS Classes!
    Apparently they forgot to use a an owl:objectProperty to properly link them.

    [1] http://www.w3.org/RDF/Validator/

    Comment by Augusto Herrmann — 12 August 2010 @ 3:12 pm
  2. Hi there

    I should point out that I’m not the creator of the Frrr Brrr Scottish Play slideshow. I uploaded it at Chris Todd’s request, and I gave her credit if you click the “more” link on the Slideshare site.

    Comment by Peter Sime — 14 September 2010 @ 1:00 am

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