RE: FRBR examples

Posting to Open-Bibliography

Karen Coyle wrote:

And in response to Jim, the Work level is one that is very useful for user services. Most users come to the library asking for a Work, not a manifestation. They want to read Moby Dick or Alice in Wonderland or the latest book in the Twilight series, and it is the story they are interested in, and that is the Work.

Sorry Karen, I have never in my life known anyone who wanted the “work” of Moby Dick or Alice in Wonderland. They may be interested in a choice of specific language versions (expressions) but while you may be interested in all English translations of the Bible, and need some specific books and verses, I haven’t met anyone who also needs Bulgarian and Chinese and Korean and Cherokee. What they (and I) would do would be to browse through the cards (as I later discovered, the uniform titles for these famous works), and “ooh!” and “aahh!” as I saw War and Peace in German, French, Chinese, Japanese, … But I didn’t need any of them.

Again, in the card catalog, the “work” was just one way for the cards to be arranged so that they could be browsed. They had to be in there somehow, and that was one way. But taking this old arrangement and declaring it to be an “entity” with different “attributes” is a fallacy in my opinion. It’s not–it’s an arrangement of cards (manifestations). Taking the concepts of “work” and “expression” beyond arrangement distorts them into something they are not, resulting in all kinds of strange problems, as people are discovering now and as your work has demonstrated.

To continue, simply because catalogers arranged the cards in the drawers in certain ways does not mean that people ever “wanted” these arrangements. This “work” arrangement was probably most useful for the catalogers themselves, who needed an inventory of the collection.

This is why I continue to maintain that we need to build something for our users *today*. What I am thinking about are some really new ideas, e.g. Google’s displays, e.g., which has all kinds of cool things, although several I don’t know how useful they are. I think people may find the word cloud useful, but I’m not sure if the Google API includes it. I have a feeling that Facebook may come up with something if they haven’t already (for better or worse).

I don’t know how people search and what they want; I am learning about how I myself search, and it is almost totally different from what I did 25 years ago. I don’t think anybody knows right now since it is changing constantly. But there is a lot of research being done on “information seeking behavior” and “scholarly communication”.



One Comment

  1. Anonymous said:

    Thank you, James for speaking for many of us. This computer-programming based model is being foisted on all of &quot;cataloging world&quot; from above and many of us are greatly dismayed by it.

    May 28, 2010

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