FRBR in one page

1.  The authors of FRBR determined that there are four primary tasks performed by users in the course of using bibliographic records/catalog records — Find, Identify, Select, Obtain.  The specifics of these tasks are beyond a cursory treatment but are reasonably accessible in the original FRBR text, subsequent textbooks,or in-depth training.(Some notes: Some may disagree with those tasks, especially as computers and the internet continue to blur the lines between record and resource and consequently between finding and accessing resources. I will confess, I’m not always entirely clear on the distinctions,even in ‘traditional’ library settings and resources, between the first three.  Personally, I think they work in aggregate, even if the attempt at making these tasks discrete might be considered of questionable success.)

2.  The authors of FRBR selected the Entity-Relationship model as the underpinning of their analysis of records.  The E-R model comes from the computer science field and is used there for examining database structures.  The pertinent components of the E-R model are: a) Entities — the primary objects of concern; b) Relationships — the connections between those entities; and c) Attributes — the characteristics that describe specific exemplars in the entities and relationships.

3. Using the E-R model, the authors of FRBR identified 3 primary groups of Entities: a) Group 1 — the products of intellectual or artistic endeavor; b) Group 2 — the parties responsible for such endeavors; and c) Group 3 — the subject matter of such endeavors.

4. Much of FRBR focuses on the Group 1 entities and the relationships between them.  The authors of FRBR identified four categories within Group 1: Work, Expression, Manifestation, Item.  They further identified the following set of primary relationships: a work is Realized through an expression, which is Embodied in a manifestation,which is Exemplified by an item; reciprocally, the item Exemplifies a Manifestation, which Embodies an expression, which Realizes a work. (Some notes: The progression from Item to Work is from concrete to abstract — the Item is the thing you can hold in your hand; the Manifestation is the object of traditional cataloging and bibliographic catalog records — a publication/edition; the Expression and Work are decidedly in the realm of abstraction and have traditionally been addressed in title and author-title authority records, although Work is a level of abstraction that is almost beyond anything previously conceived.)

5. The authors of FRBR identified key attributes for each of the four categories within Group 1.  They roughly correspond to the typical information recorded in a catalog record.  The specific breakdowns for each Group 1 category can be lengthy, with detailed descriptions, and are best explored within the FRBR text itself, subsequent textbooks,or in-depth training.

6. The authors of FRBR identified two categories within Group 2:Person and Corporate Body.  Within FRBR, Group 2 is explored primarily with respect to the relationships between Group 2 entities and Group 1– creating, realizing, producing, owning.  Further E-R assessment of Group 2, specifically the attributes of Group 2 entities, is being explored in Functional Requirements of Authority Data (FRAD) –formerly FRANAR.(A note: The current cataloging code under development with FRBR principles (RDA) has added a third category to accommodate the practices of the archival community: Family.)

7.  The authors of FRBR identified four categories within Group 3:Concept, Object, Event, Place.  Any of the Group 1 or Group 2 entities may also serve as a subject.  FRBR concerns itself primarily with the relationship — subject — between this group and Group 1.  Further assessment of Group 3 is being explored in Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Records (FRSAR).(A note: It will be interesting to see how the current practices with respect to places as jurisdictions (Group 2) and as subjects (Group 3)play out with respect to FRAD, FRSAR, and RDA.)8.  FRBR addresses other relationships across the Group 1 entity categories — work-to-work; manifestation-to-manifestation;expression-to-work; etc., which in practical terms covers things like aggregates, derivatives, adaptations, reproductions, etc.  Again, the specifics of these relationships are beyond a cursory treatment and are best reviewed in the original FRBR text, subsequent textbooks, or in-depth training.(A note: Reconciling these relationships to current cataloging practice can be complicated, but also affords the best opportunity to explore the application and implications of FRBR, especially when theyare considered across the various ‘traditional’ divisions applied in the library world.)

Hope this helps,

John Myers, Catalog Librarian

Schaffer Library, Union College

Schenectady NY 12308