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).


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Jeni Tennison, Naming Properties and Relations

Posted by: William Denton, 14 September 2009 7:57 am
Categories: Blog Mentions,Semantic Web

Naming Properties and Relations is a Semantic Webby post from Jeni Tennison.

This post is about how to name properties and relations in RDF schemas. Or rather, about how different ontology developers use different conventions and how this can sometimes be confusing.

… We’re making an explicit distinction within the service between the idea of an item or section of legislation (such as the Criminal Justice Act 1993 Section 67), versions of that legislation (such as the Criminal Justice Act 1993 Section 67 as it was in force on 1st December 2001) and that version formatted in XML, HTML or some other format (such as the XML version of the Criminal Justice Act 1993 Section 67 as it was in force on 1st December 2001).

These three ways of thinking about legislation correspond to the FRBR Work, Expression and Manifestation. So to talk about them in RDF, we use the FRBR vocabulary created by Ian Davis and Richard Newman, in which these classes are called frbr:Work, frbr:Expression and frbr:Manifestation.

Ian Davis left a clarifying comment about his RDF schema, too.

“A Skim-Read Introduction to Linked Data” mentions FRBR

Posted by: William Denton, 9 September 2009 7:44 am
Categories: Semantic Web

A Skim-Read Introduction to Linked Data, a presentation by Yves Raimond and Michael Smethurst of the BBC, is a good introduction to linked data. It’s just the slides, and the talking would help a lot, but you’ll make do. It’s moderately technical, so it’s not the best introduction for beginners, but have a look.

FRBR is mentioned on slide 92.

Coyle on Yee on RDF

Posted by: William Denton, 10 July 2009 7:18 am
Categories: Blog Mentions,Semantic Web

Quick pointer to Karen Coyle’s blog post Yee on RDF and Bibliographic Data. (That’s Martha Yee.)

The difficulty that I am having at the moment is that it appears to me that there are some fundamental misunderstandings in Yee’s attempt to grapple with an RDF model for library data. In addition, she is trying to work with FRBR and RDA, both of which have some internal consistencies that make a rigorous analysis difficult. (In fact, Yee suggests an improvement to FRBR that I think IFLA should seriously consider, and that is that subject in FRBR should be a relationship, and that the entities in Group 3 should be usable in any relevant situation, not just as subjects. p. 66, #6. After that, maybe they’ll consider my similar suggestion regarding the Group 1 entities.)

Ian Davis, the Open Library, and linked data

Posted by: William Denton, 5 May 2009 7:48 am
Categories: Examples,Semantic Web

I follow Ian Davis (a Talisman) on Twitter so I saw when he said:

The Hobbit FRBRised into Linked Data courtesy of Open Library and ThingISBN http://ol.dataincubator.org…

The hobbit, or, There and back again, gives a human-readable simple FRBRization of The Hobbit, based on information from the Open Library and LibraryThing. It’s also available in RDF/XML and in Turtle, which is RDF in a more easy-to-read format. (More easy to read than RDF/XML, though not necessarily actually easy to read.)

Ian’s e-mail OpenLibrary data refresh 3 – Hobbit Edition explains it all.

It’s a great example. I’ll be posting here about related stuff soon.

There’s also this view of the same data as shown at linkeddata.urlburner.com.

Alistair Miles, Initial Release of LOC Data as RDF using RDA and FRBR Schemas

Posted by: William Denton, 10 March 2009 7:17 am
Categories: RDA,Semantic Web

Alistair Miles sent Initial Release (M1-alpha2) of LOC Data as RDF using RDA and FRBR Schemas to the DC-RDA mailing list yesterday:

Dear all,

I’ve been working on a conversion of the loc marc data from scriblio to rdf using the rda and frbr schemas, and have got as far as I can with the effort I can spare at the moment. I set up a google code project to manage the work at:

[1] http://code4rda.googlecode.com

and have an alpha release of some of the loc data, described further at:

[2] http://code.google.com/p/code4rda/wiki/MilestoneOne

This is still well short of the initial scope proposed at [2] for a first milestone, based on the most prevalent features in the loc dataset, but will nevertheless hopefully serve as an initial proof of principle, and a base from which others can build.

I’ve added diane hillman and ed summers as project owners to [1], I leave it to them to decide best how to take this work forward.

Unfortunately I’m going to be rather busy for the next couple of months, and may not have much time to follow up on this work. However if anyone finds any serious issues in the loc data then do let me know, I’ll do what I can to fix them.

Best wishes,


Last week in FRBR

Posted by: William Denton, 22 February 2009 11:48 am
Categories: Blog Mentions,Music,Semantic Web
  • Edward Betts from the Open Library: Works pages live on Open Library staging. Openly accessibly work-manifestation groupings, with work identifiers. In test still. This is big. Here’s Murder On the Orient Express.
  • Martin Malmsten, Making a Library Catalogue Part of the Semantic Web, from Proceedings of International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications 2008. Linked data! Here’s one edition of Murder On the Orient Express in Libris, Sweden’s national union catalogue. In the source is a linked to the same information RDF and you’ll notice “frbr-related” links to other records.
  • The FRBRy Variations Digital Music Library System software is now available on Sourceforge! “Variations provides online access to streaming audio and scanned score images with a flexible access control framework to ensure respect for intellectual property. In addition to access tools, Variations also includes analysis and annotation tools useful in music teaching and learning. With Variations, institutions can digitize recordings and scores from their own collections and provide those materials to their students and faculty in support of teaching, learning, and research.”

Johnston, httpRange-14, Cool URIs & FRBR

Posted by: William Denton, 5 February 2009 4:29 pm
Categories: Semantic Web

httpRange-14, Cool URIs & FRBR, by Pete Johnston, on the eFoundations blog.

… document uses the terms “Web documents” and “real-world objects” to refer to the two classes of resources, noting that the latter class includes “real-world objects like people and cars, and even abstract ideas and non-existing things like a mythical unicorn”.

The question raised by this division is where the boundary between the two classes lies….

I’ve been trying to think through how this set of conventions should be applied to the case of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and more specifically to the “FRBR Group 1 Entities”, i.e. instances of the the classes of Work, Expression, Manifestation and Item which FRBR uses to model the universe of resources described by bibliographic records.

Summers, SemanticProxy

Posted by: William Denton, 31 October 2008 7:19 am
Categories: Blog Mentions,Semantic Web

Ed Summers posted SemanticProxy and used a recent blog post here as one of the examples to demonstrate theOpenCalais SemanticProxy service. Have a look. Hallowe’en’s the right day to mention it: it’s kind of creepy.

Hillmann, Facing Forward: The Challenges Facing Cataloging and Catalogers

Posted by: William Denton, 29 October 2008 11:08 am
Categories: Conferences,RDA,Semantic Web

Diane Hillmann’s slides from her talk Facing Forward: The Challenges Facing Cataloging and Catalogers (2.4 MB PPT) are good reading. She covers what’s going on with RDA and how all this stuff (including FRBR) will work for the Semantic Web. Lots of examples and illustrations help to make it clear. It’ll be quite a change when cataloguers don’t enter a name, they enter a URI.

RDA presentations from August IFLA satellite conference

Posted by: William Denton, 18 September 2008 7:54 am
Categories: Conferences,IFLA,RDA,Semantic Web

I didn’t get to the pre-IFLA conference about Resource Description and Access, but now I can see what I missed: the presentations are up on the Joint Steering Committee web site.

Gordon Dunsire’s RDA Vocabularies and Concepts (114 KB PDF) will be of particular interest to people interested in RDF, the Semantic Web, SKOS, etc. Have a look.

My colleague Tim Knight posted his impressions of the event on the York University cataloguers’ blog after he got back.

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