RE: Interesting conversations about RDA and FRBR …

Posting to RDA-L

Bernhard Eversberg wrote:

For classical music, it is indispensable. Apart from this, I think, one must certainly retain it for prolific authors, difficult though they are to define.

LibraryThing, from the outset, had no such notion. Later, however, they realized that some kind of “grouping” was badly needed, and they came up with the “Canonical title”! They invented the notion of the “Series” as well, after realizing that this kind of grouping can be very useful, and their understanding of it is even wider than ours.
So, they uncannily re-invented the bibliographic wheel. Can we go ahead and abolish or even neglect it, make it square or something?

But who are the ones doing the reinventing? As only one example in music, there is the Classical Archives at and their searching module is quite interesting. Play with their advanced search and see what you get–something that would be difficult to get out of traditional library catalogs that I think the public most probably likes. The Internet Movie Database is very useful too. When (and if) libraries put their records online in a more accessible manner, they will be the last ones, and it will be very difficult to know precisely who will be doing the reinventing.

But we cannot base decisions solely on what average or even above-average patrons know or instinctively want or what we believe they want. As soon as they start thinking and consciously working with bibliographic data, the LT lesson teaches us, they start re-discovering and re-inventing.

I also believe it is difficult to know, but FRBR/RDA make precisely those same assumptions. Still, when things are reconsidered independently, there may be a rediscovery, but it is rarely the same as the original knowledge–there is more often than not several new and important twists provided for the new people.

But instead of pitting it as “us” vs. “them”, (Us vs. Classical Archives & IMDB) another way of looking at it is that we are all in it together, and we are doing the same work over and over and over. This is the sort of thing that I think could be improved by working together and sharing this kind of information (OK, the Classical Archives is a paid service, but they aren’t the only ones out there) so that everyone can benefit. If there were different choices as to the “clicks” selected in the Classical Archives, with some of the choices coming to our materials, that would help us and our patrons, too.

But first of all, liberate works that are now incarcerated inside all sorts of “collections” or “multiparts” (whose “workness” is somewhat dubious). Here, the notion of the (physical) “item” is really not the best of concepts, in terms of usability of the catalog, to base a description and a record on.

A terrifying possibility, but one that I agree is probably necessary, although libraries do not, and will not, have the resources to do it. I remember working on single volume conference publications that could take days because each one had dozens of individual papers, and instead of one item, the single volume became 40 or 60 or more records. I think the only way it could be done practically would be through some kind of crowdsourcing.

Also in this regard, with the recent, and very positive, DMCA changes and the possibilities to remix, the very notion of implementing FRBR-type structures for these materials is staggering. See: