After reading her online for I don’t know how long, I finally got to meet Karen Coyle last week. Would you like to do the Four FRBR Questions? I asked. Sure, she said. Would you mind doing them live on video, with no preparation, so I can try the first FRBR Blog videocast? Sure, she said. We were just getting ready when the break was over and we had to get back to the meeting, so there’s no video. I caught up with her by e-mail instead.
If you don’t follow Coyle’s InFormation, her blog, you should. Over on her web site, you can find lots of her writings (back to 1994), such as her column in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, and links to other papers like last year’s Resource Description and Access: Cataloging Rules for the 20th Century, which she co-wrote with Diane Hillmann (who did the four questions herself last May). (The thing about the subtitle of the article, in case you missed it, is that we’re in the 21st century now.) And if you look in the bottom right-hand corner of the credits on the report from the WoGroFuBiCo you’ll see her listed as a consultant. She spoke at Code4Lib 2008 and a recording of the talk should show on up the conference site soon.
When did you first hear about FRBR?
I assume it was posted to the MARC list when issued, but I don’t remember when I first decided to download it and read it. I do remember that it was a big topic at MARBI (the MARC standards group) and that at the time there were people who pronounced it “Furby.” Interestingly, I do not believe that it has ever been the object of a MARC standards request.
What’s your involvement with it now?
I am currently working on a project to model the RDA data elements in RDF. One important goal of that project is to have a clear definition of each data element used by the library cataloging community. Because RDA is modeled on FRBR and FRAD, we need to understand how the elements relate to FRBR entities and how that affects the elements and their definitions. (Note that I’m using “data elements” here as a shorthand, but RDF actually works with “properties,” which have special meaning in that standard.)
What’s one thing you think the FRBR world needs most?
We need to think beyond cataloging with FRBR to what implementation of FRBR could mean in terms of services to our users. The use of FRBR has the potential to allow us to move library data into the nascent semantic web. We could even be visible pioneers in that area, given the huge amount of carefully crafted data that we have in our databases. The semantic web functionality promises a much richer information environment than our library catalogs provide today, and one in which library data can interact seamlessly with the entire Web.
What’s your one-line non-librarian description of FRBR?
FRBR describes bibliographic data — like authors, titles, and subjects — as a web of things with relationships between those things.
Previously in the series:
- August 2005: Patrick Le Boeuf
- August 2005: Pat Riva
- January 2006: Barbara Tillett
- Feburary 2007: Martha Yee
- May 2007: Diane Hillmann
- January 2008: Shawne Miksa
- January 2008: Arlene Taylor