Thursday, November 4, 2010

RE: Displaying Work/Expression/Manifestation records

Posting to Autocat

Kevin M. Randall wrote:
<snip>
The FRBR you are describing does not resemble anything that I have read in the FRBR issued by IFLA. There is nothing--NOTHING--in FRBR talking about unit records vs. entity-level records. Before constructing more straw men, you would be well advised to re-read it.
</snip>
I have read FRBR several times. It is not written using normal cataloging terminology but instead attempts to create the traditional catalog using other means (creating a data model) following the DOM Requirements (Document Object Model) using entities with attributes, which is how you do it in DOM. Once you make your model, you can begin to manipulate it. The effect of FRBR is to eliminate what in catalog-speak is the unit record (or to use more normal words: the bibliographic record we work with today) and to break-up that unit record into several entities, each having specific attributes, and relating them together in different ways

In practical terms: the difference from what is done now can be seen in the example displays in FRBR. Take a look at: http://www.ifla.org/files/cataloguing/frbr/frbr_2008.pdf (p. 22-23) where they show how the work and expression entities function together. These are the displays I am talking about, scattered throughout the book, which in this case displays 4 manifestations but there are no separate unit records you can point to, i.e. bibliographic records as we know them today, e.g.

w1 J. S. Bach's Six suites for unaccompanied cello
e1 performances by Janos Starker recorded partly in 1963 and completed in 1965
m1 recordings released on 33 1/3 rpm sound discs in 1966 by Mercury
m2 recordings re-released on compact disc in 1991 by Mercury
e2 performances by Yo-Yo Ma recorded in 1983
m1 recordings released on 33 1/3 rpm sound discs in 1983 by CBS Records
m2 recordings re-released on compact disc in 1992 by CBS Records

While I agree that FRBR doesn't discuss unit records as such, that is irrelevant since they use different terminology and I am analyzing what FRBR actually does and what it actually is. It is clear from the above that what FRBR does is get rid of the unit record. How else would you describe it? Except for the entity designations "w1", "e2", "m1" etc. it sure looks like 19th century book catalog displays to me!

Also, I am certainly not the only one discussing displays of FRBR information. Look at LC's FRBR Display tool e.g.: http://www.loc.gov/marc/marc-functional-analysis/tool.html#display
and there's a *lot more* out there as well. In fact, as early as 2002, if not earlier, the utility of the displays were discussed. See the Third Interim Report of the JSC http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/forvarwg3rep3.pdf, p. 8 where RLG commented:
"It would be useful to see an assessment of whether FRBR displays of bibliographic records will be conceptually meaningful to end users of catalogs. The work/expression/manifestation/item model is an abstraction which may be difficult to relate to end users. The extra effort and costs of making FRBR displays will only be justifiable if those displays provide significant value to end users."
Sounds more than reasonable to me!

Please realize, I am not in love with the unit record and have nothing against getting rid of it if it could be done efficiently and if it would lead to something positive; however, I have yet to see that anything of substance will change with FRBR/RDA except for display. The system as a whole will allow nothing more than what users can do today, except to see some other displays. Still, I agree that we absolutely need a data model, and while there are many out there who believe that the FRBR data model is "incorrect", they nevertheless feel that any model is better than what we have now, which is essentially none at all. As a result, they see the library field as stuck in the mud spinning its wheels, getting farther and farther behind every day. I respectfully disagree with those people although I sympathize. In my opinion, switching to RDA has enormous costs and risks, and before we embark on such a path, it must be shown to be of "significant value to end users" as RLG said.

I wrote:
<snip>
> The other point, which I keep bringing up, is that there are relatively few users out there--and I think their numbers are decreasing all the time--who would agree that by following FRBR, we will create records that are indeed "functional", at least for their needs, since many find the current catalog not functional but dysfunctional.
Since the FRBR concepts are only recently being tested out seriously, I would have great difficulty accepting this conclusion.
</snip>
Well, it doesn't really matter what you and I accept, but what our users accept. If it's just the functions we are discussing, and the functions are not changing, people work with them now and have always been able to. It seems our users have been "voting" for quite awhile concerning what they think of the function of library catalogs by turning to other tools. I can't imagine why people would return to our tools with the adoption of FRBR/RDA.

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