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FRBR Before and After; a Look at our Bibliographic Models

by Karen Coyle

Book cover

Availble from ALA Editions

Table of Contents and sample chapters

The story of FRBR is much more complex than the three diagrams that most of us have seen in documents and presentations. This book covers the background of bibliographic thinking, beginning in the 19th century, that culminated in the FRBR Review Group's work. It is probably not the story that you expect to hear, and the conclusions may not be comforting for those who assume that FRBR has provided the library world with a solution to the bibliographic model.

I began researching this book because I found many contradictions in FRBR and could not clearly identify the problems that it would solve for us. The research led me to review readings that I hadn't thought deeply about since library school: not only Charles Ammi Cutter and Seymour Lubetzky, but also Patrick Wilson, Barbara Tillett, and Richard Smiraglia, all of whom have contributed significantly to thinking about bibliographic models.

The book is now available from ALA editions in hard copy. In January of 2016 I will make the full contents of book available for Open Access. If you (or your library) can afford the hard copy I encourage you to purchase it. I earn $0 from sales, but ALA Editions generously allowed me to exchange potential royalties (which would have been quite small) for the privilege and advantage of having a professional publisher. This book would not have happened without their effort, and I greatly appreciate their willingness to make this exchange that is, in my opinion, a win-win-win (for me, for ALA Editions, and for readers).

FRBR, Twenty Years On. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly (2014):1-21 Open Access Preprint
Published abstract: The article analyzes the conceptual model of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) as a general model of bibliographic data and description that can be interpreted, as needed, to serve the needs of various communities. This is illustrated with descriptions of five different implementations based on the concepts in FRBR: FRBRER (entity-relation), FRBROO (object oriented), FRBRCore (FRBR entities as linked data), indecs (FRBR entities within the commerce model), and FaBiO (FRBR as a basis for academic document types). The author argues that variant models show the strength of the FRBR concepts, and should be encouraged.

This article is an attempt to introduce the idea that there is no single, immutable model for the metadata of intellectual and creative resources. Rather that hitting this head-on, I show that there have been various interpretations of the bibliographic model that we know as "FRBR." This will obviously not sit well with the folks commonly referred to as the "FRBR purists" but it is more closely in line with the reality of actual metadata in use today.

Baker-Coyle-Petiya: Multi-Entity Models of Resource Description in the Semantic Web: A comparison of FRBR, RDA, and BIBFRAME. Awarded "Outstanding Paper 2015" by Emerald!
Published in: Library Hi Tech, v. 32, n. 4, 2014 pp 562-582 DOI:10.1108/LHT-08-2014-0081 Open access preprint.

There are now three different models of bibliographic data in the library environment that define the bibliographic resource as consisting of mlultiple entities: FRBR has work, expression, manifestation and item; RDA follows FRBR, but not the OWL implementation of the FRBR ontology (FRBRer); and BIBFRAME, which has work and instance. This article looks at the way that each of these has been implemented in RDF/OWL and points out some possibly unexpected consequences from the way that these ontologies have been defined.

Selected Writings

Resource Description and Access (RDA); Cataloging Rules for the 20th Century. With Diane Hillmann. D-Lib Magazine, January/February, 2007. v. 13, n. 1/2
Although the subtitle of this piece was too subtle for many readers, this D-Lib opinion piece that Diane Hillmann and I wrote states our opinion that the work on this proposed next version of the library cataloging rules "can only keep us rooted firmly in the 20th, if not the 19th century." The library catalog must undergo radical change to throw off its card-based legacy, or libraries will be left in the dust by more nimble providers of information services. This paper generated considerable discussion at the Seattle 2007 ALA conference, but it's going to take more than some articles to make change happen. Some of us are working on next steps.
Proud to Swim Home: New Orleans After Katrina. June, 2006
In June, 2006, the American Library Association was the first large group to hold its convention in New Orleans. The Association had declared its intention to come to New Orleans as early as fall, 2005. Because of this, many of us got our first chance to visit post-Katrina New Orleans, and to bring home our stories. This is mine. (PDF for printing, although over 1MB)
Descriptive Metadata for Copyright Status, First Monday, October, 2005
The result of work I've been doing on the rights framework for the California Digital Library, this paper introduces the concept of adding copyright-related metadata to the descriptive metadata for digital objects. More information about the CDL project (and perhaps some context for this work) is at http://www.cdlib.org/inside/projects/rights/.
Review: Free Culture, by Lawrence Lessig, Information Technology and Libraries, December, 2004, pp. 198-199
My review of Larry Lessig's third book. The book is a very readable account of the interaction of copyright and culture, all told through stories of real people, from the Wright Brothers to college students using p2p technology (and getting caught). Yes, a book on copyright that you can take on vacation!
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