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 2015
« Jul    

Last Week in FRBR #32

Posted by: William Denton, 24 September 2010 7:07 am
Categories: Last Week

Singer, ruby-frbr

Ross Singer announced ruby-frbr, “a simple FRBR model representation to mixin to your Ruby objects.” The README says, “This library is not intended to provide the actual bibliographic attributes of the entities, just establish model and the relationships.”

story = Story.new
story.title = "The Old Man and the Sea"
story.extend(FRBR::Work) # these modules could also be included directly in the class

person = Person.new
person.name = "Ernest Hemingway"
story.add_creator(person) # or person.add_creation(story)

Vassallo, FRAD – ISAAR(CPF) – EAC-CPF – Topic Maps Mapping

FRAD – ISAAR(CPF) – EAC-CPF – Topic Maps Mapping is work by Salvatore Vassallo that maps elements of Functional Requirements of Authority Data, International Standard Archival Authority Record For Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families, and Encoded Archival Context – Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families. Something similiar was done before, but he says:

  • It’s from the point of view of FRAD (instead of ISAAR)
  • It uses the new EAC-CPF
  • It provides some ideas to how express FRAD and ISAAR elements in Topic Maps

The mappings are available in PDF, Excel, and OpenOffice formats, which is very convenient.

Ockerbloom, The Concept of a Work in the Catalog Web

The concept of a work in the catalog web follows on his previous “What do you read, my lord?” “Works, works, works”.

In developing similar work-oriented features on the Online Books Page, I’ve been implementing a similar information model.  It’s simpler and more general than the FRBR WEMI stack, but it can encompass the data model of all of the catalogs from my previous post, as well as the “classic” FRBR model. In this post, I’ll describe the basics of the model, and discuss why it’s a promising basis for future catalogs.

Andromeda Yelton follows up on this in her blog post Inheriting from FRBR, merrily smashing some things.

One thing I like about this is it breaks the idea that there is a level which is Work, and another level which is Expression, and so forth. The boundaries of these levels were always vague, and part of the reason was (as with the Bible) there’s no reason to think that any two documents have…ideational and textual traditions?…which can fit into the same sets of boxes. It simply takes more levels of information to situate some books in the bibliographic universe.

Another thing I like is that it’s presented simply as inheritance, and implicitly (albeit admittedly not necessarily) monohierarchical. FRBR always seemed to me to blithely assume that the entirety of textual and literary criticism could be carried out by catalogers. Trace all the influences of works on other works? Sure, why not!

Žumer, Zeng, and Salaba, FRBR: A Generalized Approach to Dublin Core Application Profiles

Maja Žumer, Marcia Lei Zeng, and Athena Salaba: FRBR: A Generalized Approach to Dublin Core Application Profiles (PDF).

According to the Singapore Framework, any development of a Dublin Core Application Profile (DCAP) has to include the creation of a domain model. DC Scholarly Works Application Profile (SWAP) was the first one explicitly using Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) model in creating its domain model. FRBR has recently been extended with Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) and Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data (FRSAD) thus forming the so-called FRBR family. This paper first further develops the SWAP domain model to incorporate the FRBR family models. Then a generalized FRBR family-based DCAP domain model is presented to be used as the basis for specific domain application profiles.

VTLS’s RDA Sandbox

VTLS announced the RDA Sandbox, where for $60 you can play around with a cataloguing program and a bunch of FRBRized data to get a better idea of what it’s like to use RDA.

The RDA Sandbox is a special program sponsored by VTLS Inc., designed to provide tools by which Libraries and librarians can practice creating MARC records following the Resource Description and Access (RDA) Implementation One Scenario. That is, creating Work, Expression, and Manifestation records as defined in the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR).

As a participant in the program you will have access to a Virtua™ database with over 250,000 MARC FRBRized linked records (Work, Expression, and Manifestations). You will also be provided with a specially customized Virtua cataloging client which will allow you to create, modify, and delete your own RDA records. Special documentation and email support will be available to help you get started. Learn RDA by playing in our Sandbox!

Dempsey, The Idea of FRBR

In The idea of FRBR, Lorcan Dempsey (an interesting Twitterer) looks up Newman’s The Idea of a University and is thrown into some edition-inspired FRBRy musings.

Last Week in FRBR #31

Posted by: William Denton, 17 September 2010 7:53 am
Categories: Last Week

Scherzo in beta

Jenn Riley announced: FRBRized music search system available:

Indiana University is pleased to announce the public (very Beta) release of Scherzo, a music discovery system designed as a testbed of the FRBR conceptual model. The system may be accessed at <http://vfrbr.info/search>. A product of the IMLS-funded Variations/FRBR project, Scherzo is an early proof of concept for what a library catalog built according to FRBR principles might look like. The current released system is most certainly not a finished product; rather it represents an attempt to share in-progress development work with interested individuals. It is (and will continue to be) far from perfect, and the Variations/FRBR project team hopes these very imperfections help to promote community discussion on the utility of the FRBR model and how feasible mechanisms to automatically FRBRize MARC bibliographic and authority records are likely to be. We welcome and intend to participate in public discussion on this system and the issues it raises. In addition, specific feedback may be sent to vfrbr@dlib@indiana.edu

Scherzo currently contains records representing approximately 80,000 sound recordings from the holdings of Indiana University’s renowed William and Gayle Cook Music Library in the Jacobs School of Music. Work on Scherzo to date has focused most heavily on FRBR Work identification from MARC and basic results display in a FRBRized environment. While we have paid some attention to user interface design, it is not our project’s primary concern. The search system currently resides on a test server; while we expect the service to be generally available, please excuse any temporary down time or unexpected restarts.

In the relatively short term, we have a number of planned improvements to the system, including a keyword search, improved Work identification processes, representing more specific roles that Group 2 entities have to Group 1 entities (beyond created by, realized by, and produced by defined in the FRBR reports), and bulk download of the source data powering this system in XML. In the slightly longer term we hope to make the source data available as Linked Data as well.

For more information, you may see detailed specifications for our MARC to FRBR record transformation <http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/projects/vfrbr/projectDoc/metadata/mappings/spring2010/vfrbrSpring2010mappings.shtml>, or the project home page <http://vfrbr.info>.

A few days later Riley announced she’s moving to the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill to be Head of the Carolina Digital Library and Archives. She’s done great work at Indiana and I wish her all the best in her new job, and I hope the FRBR work at Indiana carries on as successfully as before.

Allen, Faceted Classification and FRBR

Bradley P. Allen posted Faceted Classification and FRBR and puts forward this idea:

Starting from Elaine Svenoniusset-theoretic interpretation of bibliographical records, let’s redefine the Class 1 FRBR entities in the following way: 

  • An item is a unique physical embodiment of a work (i.e., a singleton set).
  • A work is a set of items with the same intellectual content.
  • An expression is a set of items with the same realization of intellectual content.
  • A manifestation is a set of items with the same production history.

Mailing list discussions

There are a couple of mailing lists threads to note.

Webinar: Don’t Tilt at Windmills, An Active Learning Approach to Teaching FRBR

The ALA is offering a webinar (a word that always strikes me as strange) for people who are going to be teaching others about FRBR: Don’t Tilt at Windmills, An Active Learning Approach to Teaching FRBR.

FRBR first appeared twelve years ago, and although many of its basic concepts are well known, how many of your staff have read and understand the complete text? Do you know that, for example, chapter six explains how to talk about FRBR with library administrators and public service librarians? This presentation will describe in greater detail our active training methods for FRBR. Our novel and effective program engages the entire cataloging staff with an interactive digress.it blog facilitating a group close reading, hands-on simulations with small groups working together with hundreds of strings of different colored yarn, and debriefing to build consensus about how next-gen tools will be implemented. The active process empowers library staff and the observations from the debriefing foreshadow the major issues that will be faced in implementing new tools at a particular library. This training session is aimed at cataloging managers to help empower their staff with new tools, anticipate challenges in implementation, and build team morale.

Surely conceptual models of the bibliographic universe are exciting enough on their own that we don’t need to worry about morale!

Webinar: FRBR as a Foundation for RDA

Here’s another one: FRBR as a Foundation for RDA. It’s presented by Robert Maxwell, author of FRBR: A Guide for the Perplexed, which is excellent, so it should be worth it.

Description: This webinar will cover the basics of FRBR, including its development and contents. Participants will leave the webinar with an understanding of the entity-relationship model on which FRBR is based, the FRBR entities and relationships, and the FRBR user tasks. The webinar will then address, through an exploration of RDA itself, how FRBR lies at the foundation of RDA’s structure, and what implications that might have on future database structures for our catalog descriptions.

Weinheimer, FRBR Podcast part two

James Weinheimer’s Cataloging Matters podcast on FRBR finishes: The Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records: A Personal Journey Part 2.

Denton, review of Implementing FRBR in Libraries

My review of Implementing FRBR in Libraries: Key Issues and Future Directions, by Yin Zhang and Athena Salaba, will appear in Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 49 (1) in January 2011. It’s published by Neal-Schuman and they have a page up about it. See also FRBR-Based Systems to Effectively Support User Tasks and Facilitate Information Seeking, the project out of which this book grew.

(C&CQ is published by Taylor & Francis, and SHERPA/RoMEO says they allow preprints to be archived by the author, so I’m able to put it up for public access. My thanks to C&CQ and Jane Schmidt, the book review editor.)

Last Week in FRBR #30

Posted by: William Denton, 10 September 2010 7:53 am
Categories: Last Week

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#" 
    <owl:sameAs rdf:resource="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/ukpga/Vict/30-31/3"/>
  <frbr:Work rdf:about="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/ukpga/Vict/30-31/3">
    <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.

Karen Coyle responded:

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?!

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.

Last Week in FRBR #28

Posted by: William Denton, 9 July 2010 7:39 am
Categories: Last Week

Have you been trying RDA Online?

Test accounts for RDA Online were set up and log information sent around a couple of weeks ago. Have you tried it? The offer is open until the end of August. I had a short look, but I’ll go back for a longer look and post about it. I didn’t try doing anything with workflows, which is the most important part of it all.

Summers, Libraries and Linked Data: Confessions of a Graph Addict

Ed Summers (who works at the Library of Congress in the United States) gave a talk on 24 June 2010 at a preconference session on linked data before the American Library Association conference: Libraries and Linked Data: Confessions of a Graph Addict. I don’t know what he said, but Summers used something I posted here in 2007 about Copernicus’s De revolutionibus in part. Glad it was useful!

Murray and Tillett, From Moby-Dick To Mashups: Thinking About Bibliographic Networks

Four days later, on 28 June (and you’ll see this mentioned in the previous slides), Ronald J. Murray and Barbara Tillett (both also at the Library of Congress) were talking at the ALA convention proper: From Moby-Dick to Mashups: Thinking About Bibliographic Networks (25.3 MB PDF).

Summary: Traditional and contemporary attempts to identify and describe simple and complex bibliographic resources have overlooked useful and powerful possibilities, due to the insufficient modeling of “bibliographic things of interest.” The presentation will introduce a resource description approach that remodels and strengthens FRBR by borrowing key concepts from Information Science and the History of Science. The presentation will reveal portions of a network of bibliographic (and other useful) relationships between printings of Melville?s novel dating from 1851-1975 into the present. In addition, structural similarities between the print publication network and the multimedia “mash-ups” seen on YouTube and other websites will be demonstrated and discussed.

Slide 2 says: “EXPECT THIS: FRBR requires remodeling and generalization to improve its comprehensibility, and to better inform information system design and implementation … Remodeling FRBR requires the addition of a Resource entity.”

There are slides titled The Discreet Charm of the Hierarchy, too.

Another open-bibliography thread

More verbs. Electronic ‘Items’ (Yes, another FRBR thread) kicks off, yes, another FRBR thread on the open-bibliography mailing list. Karen Coyle says: “FRBR basically solidifies the traditional library catalog card view, which may be why so many of us are having a hard time with it.”

PIFF cites this blog

PIFF posted a blog entry citing and discussing The FRBR Blog: FRBR citation.

Despite this blogs simple layout it is a pain to navigate around, if only because there is so much of it. The normally useful navigation bar on the left hand side has been packed with so much information, as well as the standard blog stuff, that it takes a while find something unless you already know exactly where it is. With that said, the information on the navigation bar is really quite useful, offering links to web documents, books and other sites all to help with the understanding of FRBR. The content of the blog itself is just as impenetrable as FRBR …

Last Week in FRBR #27

Posted by: William Denton, 2 July 2010 8:30 am
Categories: Last Week

Hello there. This is really Last Month in FRBR. Sorry about that. I was on vacation for a week and what with one thing and another I let a couple of extra weeks pass by. Here are some nice things I’ve missed.

ELAG 2010: Workshop on FRBR and Identifiers

One of the workshops at the ELAG 2010 conference was “Discovery Interfaces 2: FRBR and Identifiers,” led by Janifer Gatenby of OCLC:

Resource discovery relies on persistent and well diffused identifiers. Related to discovery is access and rights management and they too rely on persistent identifiers. The aim of the workshop is to discuss the identifiers that relate to resources and their creators and how well they fit the FRBR model. What proactive roles should libraries be playing in relation to identifiers, their maintenance and diffusion?

Many identifiers will be considered. Among those at the work level are the ISTC (International standard text code), OWI (OCLC work identifier), ISWC (Musical works), ISAN (Audio-visual works) and OWI. At the manifestation level there are ISBN, ISSN, ISMN (music) v-ISAN, DOI, Handle, ARK, LC and other national bibliography identifiers and the OCN (OCLC control number). For creators, there is the new draft International standard ISNI and the emergent ORCID (Open Research Contributor Identifier).

Tasks for the workshop will include examining the existing identifier landscape and its completeness, examining the role of identifiers in discovery and in linking data.

Slides are up: Workshop on FRBR and Identifiers (PDF). Confusingly there are no names mentioned anywhere in so I don’t know who did what.

If you’re at all interested in identifiers for Works, Expressions, Manifestations, Persons and other group 2 entities, subjects, and so on, then you should read this. There are 60 slides, with lots of diagrams, and though it may be hard to get the full sense of it all, you’ll get the basics, lots of acronyms that you can pursue on your own if you don’t know them, some good links, some basic facts, some discussion of linked data, and a good sense of the issues. Have a look.

ALCTS FRBR Interest Group met last week

One week ago today the ALCTS FRBR Interest Group met. Jenn Riley, Yin Zhang, and Martha Yee spoke. I hope recordings or slides or notes go up.

OverCat from LibraryThing and TimSpalding

Tim Spalding announced OverCat, “LibraryThing’s new index of 32 million library records, assembled from libraries around the world … [it] combines results into edition-level clusters, so you get one result per edition (rather than pages and pages of the same edition of the same book from different libraries).”

When I first read that I though they were doing Expression-level groupings, which would be fantastic, but it’s Manifestation-level. Which is great but not fantastic. Nevertheless, it’s more good work from LibraryThing. The sad news is that they’ve harvested data from libraries but due to license restrictions they can’t make their aggregate improved data available.

TSIG pre-conference day on RDA

Shaping Tomorrow’s Metadata with RDA was the name of a full-day session held by the Canadian Library Association’s Technical Services Interest Group the day before the CLA’s 2010 annual conference. There’s some general stuff on RDA but also Pat Riva (chair of the FRBR Review Group) and Tom Delsey (who helped write the FRBR spec) speaking about things, and Jennifer Bowen of Rochester talking about the eXtensible Catalog, which will know about FRBR.


Bibliographica “is an open catalogue of cultural works that grew out of the Public Domain Works project which started in 2005 and is still running today. The Bibliographica software that powers this site is open-source and designed for others to use. Moreover, different bibliographica instances can co-operatively share information. Other significant features include native RDF support, FRBR-like domain model, and wiki-like recording of every change.”

Taylor, FRBR in Practice — Visit Report

FRBR in Practice — Visit Report by Wendy Taylor, asks (and I quote in full, but go there and follow up):

A colleague and I were recently awarded an Ulverscroft/IFLA Best Practice Award to visit the Celia Library for the Visually Impaired in Helsinki to study their implementation of FRBR. We both work for the RNIB National Library Service so were really interested to find out how Celia use FRBR to assign relationships between different accessible formats of the same work. I’ve read lots about FRBR and have attended many presentations but to actually see it being used in practice and have a go myself was a real revelation. Celia produce many of their audio and Braille books in both Finnish and Swedish so the expression entity is particularly useful for them. Here at the RNIB we have can have several different formats (Braille, giant print, audio) all produced potentially from different editions of the same print work so it would be logical for us to have single record for the work with different manifestations attached.

Does anyone else out there use FRBR? I’d love to hear how you find it.

Oliver, FRBR and RDA: Advances in Resource Description

FRBR and RDA: Advances in Resource Description for Multiple Format Resources, by Chris Oliver.

It’s from 2009 but I just heard about it through Resource Shelf.

Weinheimer, New Possibilities in Cooperative Cataloging

New Possibilities in Cooperative Cataloging by James Weinheimer is a blog post made of an e-mail he sent to a mailing list I’d never heard of:

It still has never been shown that the FRBR user tasks have anything that *our users* want, (in fact, the FRBR displays I have seen tend to frighten even me!) although I will agree that FRBR may give librarians and catalogers a few of the tools that they want. So, the “FRBR user tasks” should probably be renamed the “FRBR librarian tasks”. As an example, I have mentioned several times on other lists that FRBR-type views will not help my patrons find much of anything, and I must confess, they don’t help me find anything I want either.

Last week in FRBR #26

Posted by: William Denton, 4 June 2010 7:05 am
Categories: Last Week

VuFind and “other editions” with xISBN

Lorcan Dempsey’s A web-siting at Yale: other editions and xISBN points out that at Yale’s VuFind catalogue they’re using VuFind’s ability to call on xISBN to generate a list of other editions of a given book, or, more generally, other Manifestations of a given Work. Example: The Hobbit.

York University Libraries, where I work, uses VuFind, but we turned off Other Editions before we launched in January. There were two main reasons. First, in a lot of cases there was no difference between Similar Items and Other Editions. The Hobbit example shows this. (Similar Items has little logic behind it—it’s pulling results from a keyword search based on the title of the item being displayed, if I remember right. With an interesting title it gives good results; often it just shows other editions of the same book.)

Second, because it used ISBNs, Other Editions only worked on books published from 1970 on. York University has many things published before 1970. Looking at those books showed no Other Editions even if we did have more recent Manifestations. Conversely, looking at Manifestations that did have ISBNs never showed the pre-1970 editions of the same Work. For example, this edition from 1961 has no links to Other Editions, and would never show up in any other book’s Other Editions list.

I realize that this can get a lot better through the use of OCLC and LC numbers. xISBN is a very useful service. VuFind’s use of it may be a lot better than it was late last year; I haven’t checked.

That said, the implementation in place when we deployed VuFind wasn’t good enough for an academic library. The way xISBN was used misled users about what other editions of a given work were available. It did not properly collocate. I meant to post about this at the time, but it slipped my mind. If we bring it back, I’ll post about it. There’s great promise here, but Weak FRBRization is inadequate for a research library.

Miksa, An Alternate Model of Functionality

Shawne Miksa sets out a new bibliographic model:

Last Week in FRBR #25

Posted by: William Denton, 28 May 2010 7:07 am
Categories: Last Week

open-bibliography mailing list

open-bibliography is the mailing list for the Working Group on Open Bibliographic Data. (Consider joining if open bibliographic data is an interest.) There was some FRBR talk on the list this week.

The remarkable and ubiquitous Karen Coyle said “what it comes down to for me is that the Group1 entities are really a single entity with subparts” and expanded her email message into a blog post: FRBR and Sharability.

Christopher Gutteridge said he would like good FRBR Examples. This led to more discussion, with Tim “Mr. LibraryThing” Spalding saying LibraryThing has already got it working and “what’s needed is doing.” Karen Coyle pointed out the FRBR cataloguer scenarios on the DCMI web site.

Check the archives for all of it. Really there’s nothing too new about it, though. The same kind of discussion has happened on other mailing list, with mostly the same people. Which is perhaps more important than the substance of this discussion.

Last Week in FRBR #24

Posted by: William Denton, 21 May 2010 7:48 am
Categories: Last Week

Free access to RDA from June to August: get it while you can

COMPLIMENTARY OPEN-ACCESS PERIOD shouts a page at the Resource Description and Access web site: “The contents of the RDA Toolkit will be open at no charge for everyone to try from the RDA launch date in mid-June 2010 through August 31, 2010. Sign up now and we’ll send you an email with your login information as soon as open access becomes available in mid-June.”

This really has nothing to do with open access. RDA costs money: $195 USD for one person for one year; $325 USD for one year for a site license with multiple users but only one accessing the system at a time. Open access means it’s free. This is a free trial period of a commercial product designed, I think, to entice customers and to help work out bugs.

I think RDA is a standard should be freely available to the entire world. That said, if you’re at all interested, especially if you don’t think you’ll have access to it when they charge a subscription fee, now is the time to try it out. RDA is built on FRBR (and it seems, from what little I know, that it will be a very interesting online system), so you’ll want to try it out.

Gemberling, Thema and FRBR’s Third Group

Thema and FRBR’s Third Group, by Ted Gemberling (DOI: 10.1080/01639371003745413) is in Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 48:5.

For more on “thema” and “nomen,” read about FRSAD and last year’s Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data (FRSAD): A Conceptual Model, a companion to FRBR.

Abstract: The treatment of subjects by Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) has attracted less attention than some of its other aspects, but there seems to be a general consensus that it needs work. While some have proposed elaborating its subject categories—concepts, objects, events, and places—to increase their semantic complexity, a working group of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has recently made a promising proposal that essentially bypasses those categories in favor of one entity, thema. This article gives an overview of the proposal and discusses its relevance to another difficult problem, ambiguities in the establishment of headings for buildings.

RDA: 10-week Reading Program

RDA: 10-week reading program is just what it says it is. It’s week eight and I just found out about it! Sorry not to have posted about it before. Week 1 is the start. The only name on this is “Henry;” I have no clue beyond that who’s behind this.

Last Week in FRBR #23

Posted by: William Denton, 14 May 2010 7:01 am
Categories: Last Week

Learning About RDA

Lots of mentions of FRBR et al on the Learning About RDA blog. There is a variety of writers, I think from a course at a library school who are doing this as part of their work.

University of Colorado at Boulder brushes up on FRBR

Brushing Up on FRBR describes how the 35 cataloguers at the University of Colorado at Boulder are reading and studying FRBR together!

They did it in a really interesting way, using digress.it to allow people to comment on each and every paragraph of the report. For example, here’s the definition of Expression, and discussion about it. It looks like there aren’t a whole lot of comments online, but I bet there was quite a bit of discussion in person. I hope it was a fruitful project.

Thirty-five cataloguers talking about FRBR — you know that’s going to be fun!

Panel participants wanted at ALCTS FRBR Interest Group

This hit various mailing lists:

Request for panel participants, ALCTS FRBR Interest Group
ALA Annual, Washington, D.C., Friday, June 25, 2010, 10:30-12:00 p.m.

The ALCTS FRBR Interest Group is seeking participants/presenters for a panel discussion on FRBR, its implications and implementations. All topics related to FRBR are welcome, but given the imminent release of RDA we are most interested in exploring issues other than descriptive cataloging. Some suggested topics include:

  • implications for user interface design and implementation;
  • FRBRoo and the CIDOC CRM;
  • FRAD and FRSAD;
  • overview and background on data modeling in general

Presentations should be brief, around 10-15 minutes, to allow for discussion time after the presentations. Please send a brief description of your proposed presentation by May 24, to our contact information below.

Thanks for your consideration,

Tami Morse McGill
Chair, ALCTS FRBR Interest Group
Catalog Librarian
University of Wyoming Libraries

Judy Jeng
Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, ALCTS FRBR Interest Group

OCLC raises limits on free access to xISBN and xISSN

Karen Coombs posted Daily noncommercial usage limits raised for xISBN and xISSN on the OCLC Developer Network Blog. Now you can do 1,000 queries a day, even if you’re just a regular person, and not affiliated with a library that’s got the right permissions with them. Well done, OCLC!

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