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Managing Technology (JAL column 2005-2008)
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The concepts of Work, Expression, Manifestation and Item were introduced for use in library catalogs around 2000. Because of constraints appropriate to those catalogs, they may not be usable by other communities. OpenWEMI is an RDF vocabulary that defines WEMI with a minimum semantic commitment so that these concepts can be used outside of the library catalog context. This implements the ideas in the Code4Lib article.


Dublin Core Tabular Application Profiles

is a a table-based model for application profiles that can be used by anyone who can work in a simple spreadsheet. With only twelve column elements this model provides a "core" for defining your specific metadata, very much in the spirit of Dublin Core itself.

Works, Expressions, Manifestations, Items: An Ontology

In keeping with my obsession with FRBR, and providing more depth than my blog post"FRBR without FR or BR", I have written an article that was published in the code4lib journal in which I introduce an open vocabulary for FRBR's WEMI.

The abstract reads:

The concepts first introduced in the FRBR document and known as “WEMI” have been employed in situations quite different from the library bibliographic catalog. This is evidence that a definition of similar classes that are more general than those developed for library usage would benefit metadata developers broadly. This article proposes a minimally constrained set of classes and relationships that could form the basis for a useful model of created works.

I hope to start up a group soon to discuss and perhaps finalize a very small vocabulary that can deal with this idea.

Digitization Wars, Redux

This is a more convenient PDF of my blog post of March 1, 2021 looking at the lawsuit against the Internet Archive's "Controlled Digital Lending" program by a group of publishers. Increasingly I am coming to the conclusion that our "one size fits all" copyright regime is not helpful. (If you have comments, and I encourage comments, make them at the blog site. Thank you.)

Freeing FRBR

I did a blog post called "FRBR without FR or BR" in which I suggest that there is utility in the concepts of work, expression, manifestation and item outside of the confines of the library data model. I have since also done this as a presentation which hopefully soon will become a published article.

Creating the Catalog, Before and After FRBR

This is a talk I gave recently to a group of Latin American metadata librarians. It includes some content from both my SWIB talk (2015) and the Catalogs and Content document. The conclusion remains the same, which is that we have made numerous technology changes over the last 60 years but are essentially still creating data that served the alphabetically-order card catalog. Technology itself cannot "fix" this, we have to change the data content of our catalog so that today's technology can find new ways to help users navigate the overwhelming information space that we curate.

Catalogs and Context

I wrote a series of six blog posts based on a talk I gave at ELAG2016, about the loss of context in library catalogs. This document is a combination of all of those posts. 

Mistakes Have Been Made

My (amusing) talk at SWIB 2015.

FRBR Before and After; a Look at our Bibliographic Models

by Karen Coyle

Now available in Italian. Special thanks to translator Lucia Sardo and the Associazione Italiana Bibliotecari.

Feel free to re-use, or to translate, all or part of the book, which has a CC-BY license. You do not need to ask my permission, although I would be happy to hear about such use.

Book cover

Available from ALA Editions

Get the book in 3 ebook formats: PDF, ePub and Mobi for just $20, or Kindle for $20.

Entire book and individual chapters available for download as a PDF.

If you aren't up for a whole book, here's a short talk I did at SWIB15 called "Mistakes Have Been Made" that is also much about FRBR.

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 available from ALA editions in hard copy. As promised, as of January 2016 the full contents of book available for Open Access with a CC-BY license. 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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