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).


January 2015
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Last Week in FRBR #22

Posted by: William Denton, 23 April 2010 7:48 am
Categories: Last Week

Riley, What Do You Want Out of a FRBRized Data Service

Jenn Riley asked What do you want out of a FRBRized data web service? on the code4lib mailing list Tuesday.

At Indiana University we’re working on a project that will help us see concretely what FRBRized [1] library data and discovery systems might look like. [2] One of our project goals is to share the raw FRBRized data widely so that others can look at it to see how it’s structured, reuse it, improve on it, comment on the FRBRization effectiveness, etc. We’re planning on allowing remote/Web Services/API/SRU/some machine-to-machine method like that access to the data. As we’re starting to think about how we should set that up, we thought it would be useful to gather some use cases from the code4lib community, as it’s the folks here that are experimenting services like this. So if there were FRBRized data available to you (at least for FRBR group 1 and group 2 entities; *maybe* group 3 as well), what would you do with it? What kinds of questions would your service (discovery system, whatever) ask a service that made this data available? What kinds of information would you want in a response? Would you have uses that called for downloading of “all” data at once or would you instead be better off with real-time queries to a web service? It’s questions like that we’re interested in brainstorming with this group about.

Read the rest of the thread for follow-up discussion.

David Bigwood, FRBR a Dead End?

David Bigwood posted FRBR a Dead End? on his cataloguing blog Catalogablog about cataloguing. He’d been to a conference and came away thinking: “One thing that hit me over the head was that FRBR might be a poor model for our data.” Read the comments, from Shawne Miksa, Jonathan Rochkind, Ed Summers, Ross Singer, and some other usual suspects.

Dueber and Rochkind on data models

There was a long thread on ngc4lib that got into a discussion of data models with a lot about FRBR coming up, but I can’t find it in the archives. I can still point to some related blog posts that came out the mailing list talk, though:

  • Jonathan Rochkind, Serialization vs Metadata Schema/Vocabulary: “RDA _theoretically_ uses FRBR (rather than ISBD) as the referenced ‘metadata schema’. This to my mind is actually the _most important_ part of RDA, the problem is that the RDA effort didn’t really realize how important and how challenging this was, they didn’t really realize what it entailed, and didn’t take it seriously — perhaps until fairly recently.”
  • Bill Dueber, Data Structures and Serializations: “Anyone advocating or dismissing a data model based on the data structure or serialization most-often associated with that model is missing the goddamn point.”

ELAG workshop on FRBR, June in Helsinki

Discovery interfaces 2: FRBR and identifiers working group, a workshop by Jennifer Gatenby, is scheduled for the European Library Automation Group’s 2010 conference in Helsinki in June. I hope this gets recorded, or at least that slides go up.

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.

Carol ?, MARC, FRBR, and a Whole New World

From MARC, FRBR and a Whole New World, a blog post from someone probably named Carol.

Recently after a very basic copy cataloging course, a student asked me if it was ok if she added the electronic version of an item to the bibliographic record for the print, even when they are not exactly the same edition. This is not the first time this question has come up and I doubt it will be the last. I told her that technically, no. This is not sanctioned by The Powers That Be. However, if it works in her library catalog and the patrons like it and the other librarians like it – why not? I emphasized that this would be a Big No-No if she was adding the record to OCLC or selling it but if it is in her library, in her catalog, she can do whatever she needs to do to help her patrons – this is pretty much the point of the catalog.

… At an ALA session in the recent few years (I think it was 2008 Anaheim), John Estes from VTLS stood up and spoke of “super” records. It was the most brilliant thing I’d heard from an established ILS in a very long time. He demonstrated how they basically ‘bumped’ up the generic data that applied across all instances of an item and then hooked the non-generic information to it in a cool way. To put it in FRBR terms, they create an Expression then hook the Manifestations to it (with the Items hooked to the Manifestations). BRILLIANT! This would solve the dilemma of ‘how do I connect my electronic and print versions into one record?’.

Last Week in FRBR #21

Posted by: William Denton, 16 April 2010 7:07 am
Categories: Last Week

Knowledge Integration

I’m not sure what’s going on at http://developer.k-int.com/svn/default/sandbox/frbr_rel_model/trunk/src/main/java/org/frbr/datamodel/ … except that it’s a FRBR datamodel defined in Java, stored in Subversion, wrapped in an enigma, and covered in a delicious milk chocolate coating.

Krichel, Introduction to Knowledge Organization

Thomas Krichel is teaching LIS 512, Introduction to Knowledge Organization, at Long Island University. The second week in January was about FRBR. Getting things off to a good start!

Last Week in FRBR #20

Posted by: William Denton, 9 April 2010 7:14 am
Categories: Last Week

McGrath, Looking for advice for project to tranform MARC bib data into work records

Kelley McGrath sent Looking for advice for project to tranform MARC bib data into work records to the code4lib mailing list last week. (If you think mailing lists are dead and everything happens on blogs, you’re wrong.)

I am hoping someone can help me with my current conundrum. I am looking for recommendations for tools and methods for a project I am working on to try to implement some of the Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC) work on FRBR works and moving images (http://www.olacinc.org/drupal/?q=node/27). I am not a programmer or coder, but we are going to have to hire someone to do this and give them some direction. So I am interested in what tools you would recommend for this purpose and why, as well as any other advice anyone can give me.

Basically what we want to do is take a large number of MARC bibliographic records for moving images, extract the information that might describe the FRBR Work and parse and normalize it. We then want to use this data to create provisional Work records. I am not so worried about getting the data out of MARC, but about how to work with the data once it’s out. I have listed the main steps we anticipate needing in broad outlines below.

Check the thread to see the replies; drop McGrath a note if you can help.

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative news

The March 2010 status report from the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is a nice update. I admire projects that do updates like this. There’s some FRBR and FRAD news because of the Resource Description and Access work being done.

DCMI/RDA Task Group

The DCMI RDA Task Group has continued to be busy finalizing the registration of the RDA Element sets and vocabularies. The completion date has been postponed to the first half of 2010 following the rescheduled release date of June 2010 for RDA, to be called the RDA Toolkit. The Task Group is currently discussing the generalization of RDA elements for use by the wider community.

“RDA vocabularies: process, outcome, use” by Diane Hillmann, Karen Coyle, Jon Phipps, and Gordon Dunsire was published in D-Lib Magazine vol.16 no.1/2 (January/February 2010). It describes some of the challenges encountered in the registration work and the solutions adopted.

Jon Phipps, Karen Coyle and Diane Hillmann gave a presentation on application profiles to the ALCTS (Association for Library Collections & Technical Services) Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA) on January 18, 2010 during its Midwinter Meeting. The presentation used the Task Group work to illustrate various points.

Diane Hillmann continues to represent DCMI on the advisory board of the Vocabulary Mapping Framework (VMF) project. The first versions of the VMF matrix were released in November 2009. The matrix is a tool for automatically computing best-fit mappings between bibliographic metadata elements, and consists of RDF triples in the TTL format representing around 2,500 role and 11,500 relator concepts, with over 800 terms mapped from third-party vocabularies including RDA and Dublin Core. The matrix and further information about VMF are available here. Gordon Dunsire is a member of the core project team.

The Task Group continues to liaise with the the FRBR Review Group which maintains the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) models. The Review Group is discussing a draft registration of the entity-relationship model of FRBR.

Work has started on the registration of the FRAD model. The Task Group will discuss mapping the FRBR and FRAD elements used by RDA, and registered as part of the RDA element sets, with the FRBR and FRAD element sets when their registration is finalized.

Tillett, RDA Changes from AACR2 for Texts

Barbara Tillett’s webcast Library of Congress talk RDA Changes from AACR for Texts was done on 12 January 2010 but I just found out about it these week, thanks to a mention from Ed Summers.

As the United States begins to prepare to test the new cataloging code, RDA: Resource Description and Access, this presentation explores the changes from AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed.) that the new code brings. The focus of this presentation is a brief overview of the changed instructions for cataloging textual materials. The presentation lasts 41 minutes, and the Q&A session afterward runs 35 minutes.

Resource Description and Access in South Africa, 2009

On the RDA-L mailing list Pat Riva pointed out Resource Description and Access in South Africa, a one-day conference in July 2009. The opening talk is by Robert Maxwell, who wrote FRBR: A Guide for the Perplexed, and then a talk about FRBR by Madely du Preez and one about FRAD by Fiona Bell.

Last Week in FRBR #19

Posted by: William Denton, 1 April 2010 9:45 am
Categories: Last Week

What do you want in the Open Library Works API?

In Works API, sent to the code4lib mailing list, Karen Coyle asks:

Open Library now has Works defined, and is looking to develop an API for their retrieval. It makes obvious sense that when a Work is retrieved via the API, that the data output would include links to the Editions that link to that Work. Here are a few possible options:

  1. Retrieve Work information (author, title, subjects, possibly reviews, descriptions, first lines) alone
  2. Retrieve Work information + OL identifiers for all related Editions
  3. Retrieve Work information + OL identifiers + any other identifiers related to the Edition (ISBN, OCLC#, LCCN)
  4. Retrieve Work information and links to Editions with full text / scans

Well, you can see where I’m going with this. What would be useful?

Reply on the list, or e-mail Karen Coyle, with your answer.

In a follow-up message Coyle gives this immortal line (to Ed Summers): “I’ll need you to be a little more -v on this one.”

More from lengthy code4lib thread

A couple more things from Variations/FRBR project relases FRBR XML Schemas, a long thread on the code4lib mailing list. Karen Coyle said in one message something that caught my eye (not surprising — most of her e-mails have something like that):

One thing I am finding about FRBR (and want to think about more) is that one seems to come up with different conclusions depending on whether one works down from Work or works up from Item. The assumption that an aggregate in a bound volume is an Expression seems to make sense if you are working up from the Manifestation, but it makes less sense if you are working down from the Work. If decisions change based on the direction, then I think we have a real problem!

Matthew Beacom replied in part:

The direction one moves in with the WEMI/IMEW model doesn’t change the of using the model in the way you mean. It doesn’t invalidates the model or shows a serious problem with the model. It shows that people can often trace complexities of relationships in one direction better than they can in another. So it is a good practice to use the model in both directions when trying to understand it or apply it.

That’s the opening of a long and thoughtful post. If you missed some of the thread, work your way through. It seems to have died now so there is an end.


Pointer to FRBR, a message on the OAI-ORE mailing list

Given the 1:M relationships between FRBR group 1 entities, if I want to completely model a FRBR hierarchy for a work in OAI-ORE, I need at least 4 resource maps: 1 work-level resource map to aggregate expressions, an expression-level map for aggregating manifestations, a manifestation-level resource map to aggregate items and at least 1 item-level resource map to aggregate the actual content for a particular item.

For games where there are significant issues around editions (and there’s a lot of those in the world), this actually works as a pretty good way to model things, making it easy to add new resource maps for particular editions/revisions, new copies of items, etc. as they come along. But there are some games where the situation is much simpler, and there’s not a lot of reason to have work/expression/manifestation resource maps around, because all I have is one item and that’s all I’m likely to ever have.

In those cases, how evil would it be of me to have an item-level resource map indicate that it is aggregated by manifestation/expression/work aggregations that actually don’t have resource maps?

You’ll be glad to know that according to the one person who replied, it wouldn’t be evil. Whew!

DOMS Project

DOMS, the Digital Object Management System (built on Fedora) has some FRBR stuff on its web site: FRBR Relations, How to Use FRBR.

Ibbo, A Generic JPA realisation of the FRBR Model?

I don’t know what JPA is, but Ian Ibbo posted A Generic JPA Realisation of the FRBR Model?

After a couple of hours hacking on saturday I arrived at a point that needed some test data. What to reuse? I figured I could just throw together my usual collection of cybernetics books and use that. What data model? FRBR is getting some air-time at the moment. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just pick up a JPA definition of the FRBR model and drop it into your project? I thought so.. But a look around didn’t yield anything I could reuse. Since my test data really only needs work/creator at the moment, I’ve created some classes under org.frbr.datamodel, pasted a GNU affero license on it, and whacked it out there in the public domain. Think maybe this needs to live at sourceforge, but I don’t fancy going through the hell of that just for giggles. The sourcecode is here for now: http://developer.k-int.com/svn/default/sandbox/frbr_rel_model (Can be svn checked out from this address too). If this is something of interest, prod me and I’ll get it up on sourceforge and share out the permissions.

Yelton, In Which FRBR Clarifies My Thinking on Citation Styles

Last week Andromeda Yelton posted In Which FRBR Clarifies My Thinking on Citation Styles.

Back when electronic content was starting to explode, lots of citation styles were getting all persnickety about how to cite the electronic vs. the paper version of different things, and which database it came from, and all this crud. And I was thinking, why? Do I care? Does it really matter where I found an article? What possible way does its provenance matter to my argument?

In other words, I’m really not interested in item- or manifestation-level citations. The kind of arguments I make — the kind of arguments people in most disciplines, I think, make — are expression-level, caring only about the content in question and not the particular form in which it’s realized.

edsu and ostephens

There was a bit of interesting stuff between Owen Stephens and Ed Summers on Twitter, where they had a short exchange about what was expressed by Work-level information in Open Library. Summers used a command-line RDF tool to investigate. I wanted to show the exchange here. I had Stephens’s Twitter page in a tab, but after restarting Firefox a couple of times it all got lost and it would take me too long to go back and find it all. How can someone easily go back and track a Twitter exchange between two people that happened a week ago?

Last Week in FRBR #18

Posted by: William Denton, 19 March 2010 7:02 am
Categories: Last Week

It’s the last two weeks in FRBR, actually. And it’s a lot of Karen Coyle. She’s busy!

Karen Coyle’s Livescribe videos

In the message Expressions and Manifestations sent to the rda-l mailing list, Coyle linked to two Livescribe recordings she did. Livescribe is a sort of computerized pen that lets you record what you’re saying, as well as writing and drawing, and turn it into a video recording. Watch the demo &mdash it’s pretty neat.

Variations/FRBR project relases FRBR XML Schemas

Jenn Riley sent this announcement to a bunch of mailing lists: Variations/FRBR project relases FRBR XML Schemas.

The Variations/FRBR project at Indiana University (http://vfrbr.info) is pleased to announce the release of an initial set of XML Schemas for the encoding of FRBRized bibliographic data. The Variations/FRBR project aims to provide a concrete testbed for the FRBR conceptual model, and these XML Schemas represent one step towards that goal by prescribing a concrete data format that instantiates the conceptual model. Our project has been watching recent work to represent the FRBR-based Resource Description and Access (RDA) element vocabulary in RDF; however, due to the fact that this work represents RDA data rather than FRBR data directly, and that much metadata work in libraries currently (though perhaps not permanently) operates in an XML rather than an RDF environment, we concluded an XML-based format for FRBR data directly was needed at this time. We view XML conforming to these Schemas to be one possible external representation of FRBRized data, and will be exploring other! [sic] representations (including RDF) in the future. We define "implementing FRBR," as the conceptual models described in the companion FRBR and FRAD reports; at this time we are not actively working on the model defined in the draft FRSAD report. Perhaps the most notable feature of the Variations/FRBR XML Schemas is their existence at three "levels": frbr, which embodies faithfully only those features defined by the FRBR and FRAD reports; efrbr, which adds additional features we hope will make the data format more "useful"; and vfrbr, which both contracts and extends the FRBR and FRAD models to create a data representation optimized for the description of musical materials and we hope provides a model for other domain-specific applications of FRBR.

A User Guide with details on the structure of the Schemas and how they relate to one another may be found at http://vfrbr.info/schemas/1.0/UserGuide.pdf, and
links to all Schemas and documentation may be found at http://vfrbr.info/schemas/1.0. We hope this Schema release will lead to further discussion of FRBR implementation issues within the community. Comments and questions on the Variations/FRBR Schema release may be sent to vfrbr@dlib.indiana.edu.

That’s big stuff. Congratulations to Riley and everyone else on the project. I haven’t had time to digest it all, but I’ll keep an eye out for comments and follow-ups and link to them. I think examples will help people understand all this, so try your hand at one.

Discussion on code4lib and rda-l; Coyle and Rochkind

Karen Coyle responded on the code4lib list, saying:

[A]re you on the RDA-L list? Because we just went through a very long discussion there in which we concluded that a text aggregate (possibly analogous to a sound recording aggregate) is an expression, not a “set” of separate work/expression entities. Your example implies the latter, with the aggregate being described only at the manifestation level. (And now I’m confused as to what the work would be in something like a text collection, such as an anthology of poems. Would the anthology be a work?)

There was some back and forth between a few people. Coyle later said:

What the RDA folks (that is, the folks who have created RDA, the JSC members) said (some of them off-list to me), is that if your manifestation is an aggregate, then your Expression must be an equal aggregate. So the Expression is pretty much one-to-one with the Manifestation. (And I think we were all seeing a many-to-many.)

This is what I was told (off-list):

“the additional bibliographies or other intellectual or artistic content are viewed as parts of a new expression – not just new pieces for the manifestation … – it’s useful to declare expression level changes to facilitate collocation and make distinctions, but sometimes such distinctions aren’t necessary and we can collocate at the work level. Please don’t start people getting confused with throwing in expression level elements at the manifestation level.”

So those were my marching orders! (And I don’t see how anyone could be more confused than I am.) But a reprint of Moby Dick with a new preface or bibliography becomes a new expression. In crude MARC terms, every time the 245 $c changes, you’ve got a new expression, unless you determine that it’s something really insignificant. And I would guess that you can link the Expression to one or more Works, as you wish, except that the FRBR diagram shows that expressions can only relate to one Work. (See, no one could be more confused than I am!)

Jonathan Rochkind responded at length and turned his e-mail into a blog post: Notes FRBR WEMI entities, physicality, interchangeability, merging. He and Coyle post lengthy comments (with more about Moby Dick) and you should go read it.

The consensus on rda-l about aggregates being expressions

The discussion on rda-l that Coyle mentions above is, I think, in the Contents of Manifestations as Entities thread that she started on 10 March. She’d been looking at Chapter 25: Related Works and didn’t see how entity relationships could be set up from what’s described there. When all that was going on I had some other things on my mind so I was only skimming the list traffic, and I can’t pick out one representative e-mail to sum it all up. Perhaps someone can leave a link in the comments?

The FRBR Working Group on Aggregates still doesn’t have any answers about any of this.


Hugh Cayless points out some very cool stuff in Making a new Numbers Server for papyri.info. papyri.info is brand new to me but instantly fascinating: it is “dedicated to the study of ancient papyrological documents. It offers links to papyrological resources and a customized search engine (called the Papyrological Navigator) capable of retrieving information from multiple related sites. The Papyrological Navigator currently retrieves and displays information from the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS), the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri (DDbDP) and the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis (HGV).” The Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis! You know you want to be involved.

Cayless describes a rich set of relationships involving all the various parts of the study of ancient manuscripts. The old system wasn’t good enough to support that, but the new system, which uses RDF to model things, can handle it. Part of the model is FRBR:

FRBR: there’s a Work (the ancient document itself), which has expression in a scholarly publication, from which the DDbDP transcription, HGV records and translations, and APIS records and translations are derived; these may be made manifest in a variety of ways, including EpiDoc XML, an HTML view, etc. The scholarly work has bibliography, which is surfaced in the HGV records. There is the possibility of attaching bibliography at the volume level as well (since these are actual books, sitting in libraries). Libraries may have series-level catalog records too.

(Thanks to Jodi Schneider for pointing this out.)


Daniel Paradis pointed out CastAlbumCollector.com:

The CastAlbumCollector website (http://www.castalbumcollector.com) is a very good example of how a database (in this case of recordings of musicals) based on FRBR entities can help users navigate large results sets and clarify what they’re looking for. The website lets you browse by show (=Work), by recording (=Expression) or by release (=Manifestation); you can also do a keyword search by show or recording. If you search for the work “Les misérables”, you will be presented with only two results: the musical by Schönberg or the one by Spencer (who knew there was another musical on the same subject?). Once you select the Schönberg work, you can pick among the 55 recordings of the musical in the database. Only after you selected a recording are you offered with specific releases. At this stage, the details pertaining to the work and expression entities are neatly grouped together under “Show details” and “Recording details.” I was not surprised to read on his personal website that the creator of this database has an MLS…

Check out The Music Man, for example. You can see the original cast recording, the soundtrack of the film, different releases of each, etc.

Percentage of holdings for multi-manifestation works in WorldCat

The FRBR mailing list archives are, sadly, unavailable to nonsubscribers. Thom Hickey of OCLC recently said there:

On our latest run against WorldCat we found an average of just under 1.4 records/work. 85% of the works just have one manifestation.

38% of WorldCat records are in the 15% of works with multiple manifestations.

Timothy Faile did some calculations, and I hope he won’t mind if I quote them fully:

Of the total number of records (i.e., manifestations or expressions) in WC: single-manifestation works (62% of records); multi-manifestation works (38% of records)

Of the total number of works in WC: single-manifestation works (85% of works); multi-manifestation works (15% of works)

Averages to just under 1.4 records per work.

So…in trying to get my head around these numbers…

Imagine that there are only 1,000 records (manifestations/expressions of works) in WorldCat. Of these 1,000 records, there are: 620 records with a one-to-one relationship to 620 works; 380 records with a many-to-one relationship to the remainder of works (note: the “remainder of works” is calculated below)

If 620 = 85% of works

620       850

-----  =   ----- = (620*1000)/850 = 729.4 (total number of works)

  x        1000

Total number of works = 730

x – 620 = total number of works with multiple manifestations = 730-620 = 110

Remainder of works = 110

Therefore, of the total number of works (730 works): 620 works have exactly one manifestation; 110 works have multiple manifestations/expressions

Considering all 730 works (single- and multi-manifestation), there are on average 1.37 manifestations/expressions for each work.

Calculation: [total records / total works] 1000 / 730 = 1.36986

But this stat is rather useless (from my understanding), since it mixes the categories which should be distinct. Considering only the 110 multi-manifestation/expression works, there are on average 3.46 manifestations(expressions) for each work.

Calculation: [total many-to-one manifestations(expressions) / total multi-manifestation works] 380 / 110 = 3.4545

620 / 730 = 0.8493 (or 85% of works have only one manifestation)

110 / 730 = 0.1507 (or 15% of works have multiple manifestations/expressions)

Hickey confirmed that looked right. Interesting.

Last Week in FRBR #17

Posted by: William Denton, 5 March 2010 5:14 pm
Categories: Last Week

This was a quiet week in FRBRville, as far as I know. If you know different, do speak up!


upstream.openlibrary.org is public. It’s the new look for Open Library. Have a look at, for example, the work The Maltese Falcon, which links to 27 editions (or Manifestations), including this 1989 Vintage printing.

If you want to grab the data about that edition, you can get it in JSON or get it in RDF.

DAISY news

A news note from the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) Consortium about funding supported by the Ulverscroft Foundation “to assist the development of library services for print disabled people worldwide and to foster cooperation between library services serving these persons.”

Kathy Teague and Wendy Taylor, Librarians, RNIB National Library Service, UK

Kathy and Wendy are responsible for coordinating the Cataloguing Working Group of the IFLA LPD’s Global Accessible Library Project and are involved in the acquisition of a new library management system by RNIB NLS. They wish to visit the Celia Library in Helsinki, Finland to study their implementation of the new FRBR bibliographic model [Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records] which permits the assigning of relationships between different accessible formats of the same work. Celia belongs to the Finnish DAISY Consortium and is the first specialist library in this field to implement this model. Their visit has clear potential to enhance the DAISY Consortium member RNIB’s services and worldwide developments. Ulverscroft has offered 2,700 to fund this visit.

Last Week in FRBR #16

Posted by: William Denton, 28 February 2010 7:16 pm
Categories: Last Week

Bram Stoker’s Dracula in FRBR Terms

From Melvin Yabut.

Dunsire on FRBR and RDF

In Re: FRBRer & FRAD in Registry Gordon Dunsire gives a good long answer on the DC-RDA mailing list about how FRBR, RDA and RDF are fitting together and where things are at.

Coyle asks about relations

On RDA-L, Karen Coyle asked a Question about RDA relationships (App. J):

I’m pondering the RDA relationships, as defined in Appendix J. I need clarification …

A relationship is between two “things”. FRBR has lists of Work-Work relationships, Expression-Work relationships, etc. Appendix J lists relationships as either Work, Expression, Manifestation or Item relationships. So…

1) are all relationships in Appendix J between equivalent entities? e.g. are they all Work-Work, Expression-Expression?

2) If not, how can one tell what the two “things” are that are being related?

3) I don’t find some relationships that seem to be key: Expression of; Manifestation of; Item of; Translation of (Expression as translation of Work)

I have other questions, but don’t want to muddy the waters … yet.

Lengthy and informative discussion ensued.

Hammond, Is FRBR the OSI for Web Architecture?

Following up on Does a CrossRef DOI identify a “work?” we have Tony Hammond’s Is FRBR the OSI for Web Architecture?

FRBR is a useful reference model to clarify some of these concepts. But not one that we are overly concerned with at this time. Nor even whether DOI maps one to one onto a given FRBR layer. What we are more concerned with on a pragmatic level is how DOI maps onto the Web architecture and especially how it plays along with Linked Data concepts.

(Aside: A propos FRBR we might be in danger of repeating the OSI mistake for standardizing the network layer model. Ultimately that was maintained as a reference model but dropped as a concrete model in favour of the TCP/IP stack. Could be that FRBR is our OSI and Linked Data is our TCP/IP stack? That is, we might have to settle on the coarser data model in order to get a coherent story out the door where all can agree.)

The OSI model is seven layers that describe networking from the most basic physical level up to protocols used by applications (such as HTTP). IP (Internet Protocol) is at layer three, and TCP (Transport Control Protocol) is at layer four. Together, as TCP/IP, they’re what make the Internet work. There’s a really interesting idea summarized in the penultimate line in my quote, but I don’t know enough about networking to expand on the comparison.

Chaudri et al, Towards a Toolkit for Implementing Application Profiles

Towards a Toolkit for Implementing Application Profiles, by Talat Chaudhri, Julian Cheal, Richard Jones, Mahendra Mahey and Emma Tonkin, in Ariadne 62 (January 2010). Lots of FRBR throughout.

Dublin Core Application Profiles are intended to be based upon an application model [8], which can be extremely simple. This article concentrates on the recent set of JISC-funded application profiles, which make use of application models based on variants of FRBR [9], and which follow the Singapore Framework for Dublin Core Application Profiles [10]. While application profiles are by no means limited to repositories and can for instance be implemented in such wide-ranging software environments as Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), Virtual Research Environments (VREs) and eAdmin, this paper focusses in the first instance on digital repositories [11]. However, these wider areas are within the broader scope of this study and it is intended that future work will address them more specifically.

Open Knowledge Foundation, “create FRBR model in RDF”

I’m not sure what this is: Ticket #41 (new task): create FRBR model in RDF. Something to do with a project at the Open Knowledge Foundation about works in the public domain?

LeGrow, RDA Is On the Way

Lynne LeGrow posted about a presentation she gave on 18 February: RDA Is On the Way. General overview of what’s going on, with some FRBR, of course, and a Jane Austen example.

Last Week in FRBR #15

Posted by: William Denton, 12 February 2010 7:27 am
Categories: Last Week

Fairly slow this week in FRBRland. Here are some links.

Bilder, Does a CrossRef DOI Identify a Work?

Geoffrey Bilder asked the question Does a CrossRef DOI Identify a Work? (A DOI is a digital object identifier, often something rather cryptic-looking such as 10.1038/nature02999, that identifies an article in Nature). An article in a journal is a work (to be exact: what you hold in your hand, if it’s in print, is an item exemplifying a manifestation of an expression of that work) and if a DOI identified a work then that would be extremely useful. But:

Tony’s recent thread on making DOIs play nicely in a linked data world has raised an issue I’ve meant to discuss here for some time- a lot of the thread is predicated on the idea that CrossRef DOIs are applied at the abstract “work” level. Indeed, that it what it currently says in our guidelines. Unfortunately, this is a case where theory, practice and documentation all diverge.

… CrossRef DOIs should be probably assigned at the expression level and different expressions should be assigned different CrossRef DOIs. This is because assigning a CrossRef DOI at the higher “work” level is generally not granular enough to guarantee that a reader following the citation will see what the author saw when creating the citation. For example, one translation of a work might be substantially different from another translation of the same work.

Ronald Murray lecture at British Library

Ann Chapman’s FRBR Lecture at BL describes the talk that the Library of Congress’s Ronald Murrary gave at the British Library.

So how might this work in practice? Typing in ‘cats’ as a search term in my public library catalogue today brings up 500 results. There is no order to the list, it includes both fiction and non-fiction titles and it doesn’t separate out different forms of resource. I could limit the search to items in my local branch (213 results) or limit it by media – large print, say, which gets me just 7 results – but however I limit I am still faced with an unordered list of adult and junior fiction and non-fiction titles in various media.

Now, if the catalogue had been designed with FRBR principles and a MARC Format enabled for RDA defined data, then my experience would be different. For example, options to limit my search for content type and audience would make it easier to find a book written for adults. Adding in a further limiter for media type means I could restrict the search to large print titles or e-books. Even if I don’t limit in these ways, if the right data is in the record (and the system is designed to do this) the results display could show the items in different groups – all the adult non-fiction text resources first, then junior non-fiction, then junior fiction, then videos, say. Another way would be to start with cats as a search term; the first results display might simply say ‘500 items found’ and ask you to choose limiters (e.g. adult/junior, fiction/non-fiction, text/video/images).

Yáñez, Keepin’ Up

Israel Yáñez noted that he got his library school diploma in the mail (congratulations!) and this is how he celebrated:

Not wanting to be left behind on the FRBR/RDA front, I compiled a collection of handouts I had gathered, during the last year or so, of presentations on the subject by people from whom I want to hear (including my cataloging professor Dr. Robert Ellett).

The collection came out to 92 pages. I sent my order to FedEx Office Printing Online (coil binding and tabs included!). Total cost under twenty bucks. An investment in my continuing development, I figure.

Last Week in FRBR #14

Posted by: William Denton, 6 February 2010 12:47 pm
Categories: Last Week

Hi. I usually get this out on Fridays, but I hope you don’t miss it because it’s coming out on Saturday this week. Seems like it was a slowish week in FRBRania. The first couple of pieces involve the RDA-L mailing list archives (RDA being, of course, the new cataloguing rules Resource Description and Access) and also Karen Coyle .

Mix and Match: Mashups of Bibliographic Data

Mix and Match: Mashups of Bibliographic Data at the recent American Library Association conference had people from Google talking about Google Books metadata, OCLC talking about ONIX, and the Open Library talking about the Open Library. Eric Hellman was there and wrote it up in Google Exposes Book Metadata Privates at ALA Forum, which a lot of people have been pointing out, including on RDA-L.

Karen Coyle, who was the Open Library person at the session, brought the four FRBR user tasks into talk about alphabetical ordering of titles:

In FRBR we have the four user tasks: find, identify, select, obtain. These are fully imbued with the assumption of user knowledge.

“to find entities that correspond to the user’s stated search criteria (i.e., to locate either a single entity or a set of entities in a file or database as the result of a search using an attribute or relationship of the entity);”

This seems to eliminate the possibility that the user could be successful in the library catalog with a need like: “I just finished Twilight and loved it. What else might I like?” Yet that is a legitimate query to bring to the library, and even to the library catalog. Perhaps we should spend some time re-writing the FRBR user tasks, expanding them to meet a wider variety of user needs. Then we could look at our catalogs and say: “What does this mean in terms of catalog functionality?” I maintain that alphabetical order will not be at the top of our list, but will probably appear along some user tasks.

Peter Murray was also there, and wrote it up in Mashups of Bibliographic Data: A Report of the ALCTS Midwinter Forum:

[From the OCLC section.] If there is an exact match for the incoming ONIX record in WorldCat, the WorldCat record is enhanced with certain fields from the ONIX record (descriptions, author biographies, web links) — being careful not to override authority work being done by libraries, but adding enhancements that libraries may not otherwise input. In turn, enhancements from exact match record and FRBR work set records (hardcover versus softcover versus audiobook, etc.) are added to the ONIX record (non-English subject headings, adding a Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) field from another similar record if one doesn’t already exist, change the author field to an authority-controlled version). If there is not an exact match for the ONIX record in WorldCat, a new WorldCat record is built from the ONIX record and it is subsequently enhanced by metadata found in the FRBR work set records.

RDA-L thread on RDA and granularity

Coyle began the RDA and Granularity thread prompted by a chat at a libary conference. As you can see from the archives it started a big long discussion that changed Subject. Somewhere in there John Myers posted in the Systems v Cataloging subthread:

[C]onsider the FRBR expression entity. A significant aspect in textual works between expressions is translation. We do have a 240 field to record that, but since the application of the rules for Uniform titles were left to the discretion of the cataloging agency, indication of an expression for a translation can also appear in a translation note recorded in tag 500, sometimes in conjunction with the 240 but oftentimes alone (as several thousand records in my catalog will attest). Now, if this data were consistently recorded in the 240 (both with respect to the format and to the application of use of the 240), then machine FRBR-ization of these records for translations would be relatively simple.

There was more FRBR discussion in the replies.

RDA National Test Update

Jennifer Eustis’s RDA National Test: Update points to Testing Resource Description and Access (RDA) at the Library of Congress, which sketches out how a bunch of libraries are going to test RDA before committing to use it. Because FRBR is fundamental to RDA, this will also be the biggest test so far of how FRBR helps bibliographic organization.

RDA vs. AACR2: Implications for Social Justice

On 11 January the New York City Radical Reference Collective ran RDA vs. AACR2: Implications for Social Justice, with Rick Block from Columbia University.

Jessica Lingel wrote notes on the session, which are worth reading. It looks like there was a good review of FRBR and RDA and where things are at, and then some interesting questions about that and the social justice and progressive side of cataloguing.

Question – what aspects of cataloging relate to issues of social justice?

It’s mostly a matter of subject headings. But even in descriptive cataloging, what gets included, what doesn’t has implications. RDA won’t so much change that, although it raise the question of personal archiving.

I’d never thought about this angle on FRBR and RDA. Very interesting subject. The first thing that strikes me is that in the linked data and Semantic Web approach anyone can say anything about anything. It will be much easier for people to apply their own sets or subsets of terminology to a group of things while still keeping connected with the rest of the universe, and for anyone else who wants to use that vocabulary to mix it in with their own system. This is a big improvement.

Last week in FRBR #13

Posted by: William Denton, 29 January 2010 7:15 am
Categories: Last Week

Assunção, FRBR and Music Uniform Title

Maria Clara Assunção has a paper called “FRBR and Music Uniform Title” in Páginas a & b 2:4 (2009), pp. 143-153.

The concepts of “work” and “expression” introduced by FRBR model, have particular implications for the rationale behind the construction of music uniform titles and can help to significantly improve the identification of musical works through this cataloguing resource. This study results from the practical need to establish a set of effective criteria in the development of uniform titles for musical works of a diverse nature, mostly of doubtful identification, often handwritten and sometimes anonymous. This paper aims to contribute to clarify this vital resource in the cataloguing of music but often avoided or misapplied.

LibraryThing, A FRBR Model of Publishers

I spent some time cleaning out my inbox. At work I’ve been doing Inbox Zero for a long time and it’s an enormous help, but my personal mailbox had a bunch of stuff in it that was dragging me down, so I started deleting. One thing I found was from Tim “Mr. LibraryThing” Spalding, sent in May 2009, pointing out a discussion on the LT site: A FRBR Model of of Publishers.

As many know, LibraryThing has a concept of “works” being composed of editions. And we have author and tag aliases.

Together, these concepts resemble what librarians call the FRBR model, and its siblings FRAR, FRSAR, FRBRoo, and FR-lama-lama-ding-dong.

Now, I want to do publishers. That is, I want to have pages for publishers.

This requires some model of how publishers are. An ideal model would understand that HarperCollins used to be called Harper Collins, that Collins is an imprint of HarperCollins, but was an independent company, etc. Truly publishers and imprints are much worse than authors or works. They’re a river you can’t step in twice and that calls itself a stream the next day. Also the river is only really significant insofar as books float down it. And there are beavers making dams, and fish and… Okay, not the last part.

So, does anyone have any advice on this problem? What does FRBR look like when applied to publishers, imprints and etc.?

I don’t know if this lead anywhere. To my surprise, even for the new Stephen King, Under the Dome, no publisher is listed in the Common Knowledge section. (It’s Scribner.) I had a look at a few books and didn’t see a Publisher field on any of them. I don’t know what’s going on there, or where Tim got with this, but that’s what happens when you let email sit around for eight months and then feel bad about not dealing with it.

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