This is actually the Last Six Weeks in FRBR, Briefly. I was on vacation and then things got busy at work, so some things slipped by, but here are some interesting recent events.
legislation.gov.uk uses FRBR as part of a huge, fascinating, online publishing project that’s based on linked data. For some background, check Pete Johnston’s short blog post, the official blog post about their API, and then read the full explanation from John Sheridan: legislation.gov.uk. He says:
At the moment, the RDF from legislation.gov.uk is limited to largely bibliographic information. We have made use of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and the MetaLex vocabularies, primarily to relate the different types of resource we are making available. FRBR has the notion of a work, expressions of that work, manifestations of those expressions, and items. Similarly, MetaLex has the concepts of a BibliographicWork and BibliographicExpression. In the context of legislation.gov.uk, the identifier URIs relate to the work. Different versions of the legislation (current, original, different points in time, or prospective) relate to different expressions. The different formats (HTML, HTML Snippets, XML, and PDF) relate to the different manifestations. We have also made extensive use of Dublin Core Terms, for example to reflect that different versions apply to geographic extents. This is important as, for example, the same section of a statute may have been amended in one way as it applies in Scotland and in another way for England and Wales. We think FRBR, MetaLex, and Dublin Core Terms have all worked well, individually and in combination, for relating the different types of resource that we are making available.
For example, The British North America Act of 1867, which created Canada. Checking the URI documentation leads us to http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/30-31/3/data.rdf, which begins:
<rdf:RDF xmlns:rdfs="http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#" xmlns:owl="http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#" xmlns:dct="http://purl.org/dc/terms/" xmlns:foaf="http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/" xmlns:frbr="http://purl.org/vocab/frbr/core#" xmlns:metalex="http://www.metalex.eu/metalex/2008-05-02#" xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#" xml:lang="en"> <rdf:Description rdf:about="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id?title=British%20North%20America%20Act%201867"> <owl:sameAs rdf:resource="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/ukpga/Vict/30-31/3"/> </rdf:Description> <rdf:Description rdf:about="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/ukpga/1867/3"> <owl:sameAs rdf:resource="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/ukpga/Vict/30-31/3"/> </rdf:Description> <frbr:Work rdf:about="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/ukpga/Vict/30-31/3"> <rdf:type rdf:resource="http://www.metalex.eu/metalex/2008-05-02#BibliographicWork"/> <rdfs:label>British North America Act 1867</rdfs:label> <rdfs:isDefinedBy rdf:resource="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/30-31/3"/> <foaf:isPrimaryTopicOf rdf:resource="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/30-31/3"/> <frbr:realization rdf:resource="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/30-31/3"/>
You can see they’re using the RDF representation of FRBR by Ian Davis and Richard Newman, not any kind of official IFLA scheme.
Spalding, Work Combination on LibraryThing
Tim Spalding did a nice video showing how works get combined on LibraryThing. Good example of a part of FRBR in action.
Ockerbloom, "What do you read, my lord?" "Works, works, works"
John Mark Ockerbloom’s "What do you read, my lord?" "Works, works, works" follows that nicely: he discusses four major semi-FRBRous applications: OpenLibrary, WorldCat, LibraryThing, and Google Books.
All of the catalogs above, then, are somewhat “FRBR-like”, but they don’t fully implement the FRBR functional or data model. I’m not sure, though, how closely they need to conform to those models. I can see room for improvement in each catalog, but they all seem to work well enough to have gained notable user communities.
… So I’m very interested in seeing how well catalogs and records designed along FRBR lines work in practice. I’m also piloting some prototypes of FRBR-like features on The Online Books Page, and I hope to have more to say about them shortly.
Weinheimer casts pods
James Weinheimer has started a podcast, Cataloging Matters, and two of the first three are a propos. He posts full transcripts, too.
- Cataloging Matters #1 : “As an aside, I want to point out that I always say F-R-B-R and not ‘ferber’, because personally, I have always considered ‘ferber’ to be a very ugly word, and while others are perfectly free to say it, I simply choose not to. Therefore, I say F-R-B-R and if the word ‘ferber’ should slip out, realize that I have just humiliated myself terribly and I promise to do my best never to say it again.”
- Cataloging Matters #3: The Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records, A Personal Journey: “I will seek to describe FRBR as objectively as I possibly can, and afterwards I will provide my own personal opinions about it, but along the way, I would also like to talk about my own personal experiences with it since I think this may hold more meaning for people, and at the same time make it more interesting.”
Gutteridge, The Modeller
Christopher Gutteridge has “invented a new Batman villain:” The Modeller. “Over the 3 issues there’s a running subplot about the modelers master weapon, the FRBR, which everyone knows is very very powerful but when the citizens of Gotham talk about it none of them can quite agree on exactly what it does.”
McDonough et al, Twisty Little Passages Almost All Alike
Twisty Little Passages Almost All Alike: Applying the FRBR Model to a Classic Computer Game, from Digital Humanities Quarterly 4: 2 (Fall 2010):
Humanities scholars and librarians both confront questions regarding the boundaries of texts and the relationships between various editions, translations and adaptations. The Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) Final Report from the International Federation of Library Associations has provided the library community with a model for addressing these questions in the bibliographic systems they create. The Preserving Virtual Worlds project has been investigating FRBR’s potential as a model for the description of computer games and interactive fiction. While FRBR provides an attractive theoretical model, the complexity of computer games as works makes its application to such software creations problematic in practice.
Taylor and Teague, FRBR in Practice
FRBR in Practice by Wendy Taylor and Kathy Teague, is from Ariadne 64 (July 2010).
The Royal National Institute of Blind People National Library Service (RNIB NLS) was formed in 2007 as a result of a merger between the National Library for the Blind (NLB) and the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s Library and Information Service. It is the largest specialist library for readers with sight loss in the UK. RNIB holds the largest collection of books in accessible formats in the UK and provides a postal service to over 44,000 readers. RNIB produces its own books in braille, giant print and audio format for loan and sale. It is our role to ensure that all our stock is catalogued and classified so that RNIB staff and our blind and partially sighted readers are able to find and obtain what they need through the RNIB accessible online catalogue.
We have been working with two library management systems (LMS) since the merger and are now in the process of tendering for a new LMS to integrate our bibliographic data. We are anticipating the launch of the new LMS to our readers in the fourth quarter of 2011. We feel that it is an opportune moment to review our cataloguing practice and investigate the possibility of cataloguing the accessible format, e.g. braille at the manifestation level rather than as a holding attached to the bibliographic record describing the print book, like all other libraries for the Blind around the world. The disadvantage of this cataloguing method is the proliferation of records for each title. But we think that the negative effect could be corrected by Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR). In order to test this theory we needed to have a better understanding of FRBR and how it actually works. We applied for and were awarded the Ulverscroft/IFLA Best Practice Award to fund our trip to the Celia Library.
It’s All About the Relationships — In Serials, In FRBR, In Life: An Interview with Olivia Madison
“It’s All About the Relationships—In Serials, in FRBR, in Life: An Interview with Olivia M. A. Madison,” by Lori Osmus Kappmeyer, appeared in The Serials Librarian 57: 1/2 (July 2009) (DOI: 10.1080/03615260802680117), but I seem to have missed pointing it out.
ABSTRACT: Olivia M. A. Madison talks about her roles in the library profession and how her career developed along with them, most importantly the unanticipated relationships connecting the elements of her career. She discusses the influence of serials work on her career, her cataloging experiences, the early days of OCLC, her work in CC:DA, her adventures at IFLA, the development of FRBR, the future of bibliographic control, and her development as a librarian at Iowa State University.
Singer and Coyle on public-lld
Finally, there was a lot of mailing list discussion about FRBR, but I’ll just grab two quotes from a thread on the public-lld mailing list about linked data, first from Ross Singer in Re: RDA and ranges:
If legacy data cannot reasonably be modeled with these vocabularies (since
the semantics are different) and the future of bibliographic control (http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/news/lcwg-ontherecord-jan08-final.pdf) is to incorporate data from communities outside of traditional cataloging, where is RDA-native data going to come from and who will be able to use it?
When I look at the vocabularies coming out surrounding RDA (and FR*), I cannot help but think their complicated models and arcane rules to apply them (especially without a freely available text for somebody to figure them out) is completely disjoint with how we’ve almost universally decided the future of bibliographic metadata creation will be realized.
Wow. Totally nailed it, Ross.
We keep talking about RDA and FRBR and yet
1 – they aren’t being used yet to create any data
2 – we have no machine-readable carrier for RDA/FRBR data
3 – we aren’t in agreement about what the FRBR entities mean
4 – IFLA is still working on defining the FR family, and changes are still happening
5 – we have a *huge* body of bibliographic data in non-RDA and non-FRBR format
I’ve done some thinking about how we could define MARC elements in RDF, but I haven’t gotten very far. However, if we are to create linked library data in any quantity before about 2020, we *are* going to need to do it without the advantages of RDA and FRBR. Where do we begin?!