This document is the draft definition of FRBR1 (object-oriented version, harmonised with CIDOC CRM), hereafter referred to as FRBROO, a formal ontology intended to capture and represent the underlying semantics of bibliographic information and to facilitate the integration, mediation, and interchange of bibliographic and museum information.
The FRBR model was originally designed as an entity-relationship model by a study group appointed by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) during the period 1991-1997, and was published in 1998.
Quite independently, the CIDOC CRM2 model was being developed from 1996 under the auspices of the ICOM-CIDOC (International Council for Museums – International Committee on Documentation) Documentation Standards Working Group.
The idea that both the library and museum communities might benefit from harmonising the two models was first expressed in 2000, on the occasion of ELAG’s (European Library Automation Group) 24th Library Systems Seminar in Paris, with Nicholas Crofts and Dan Matei drafting on the spot a preliminary object-oriented representation of the FRBR model entities roughly mapped to CIDOC CRM classes. This idea grew up in the following years and eventually led to the formation in 2003 of the International Working Group on FRBR/CIDOC CRM Harmonisation, that brings together representatives from both communities with the common goals of: a) Expressing the IFLA FRBR model with the concepts, tools, mechanisms, and notation conventions provided by the CIDOC CRM, and: b) Aligning (possibly even merging) the two object-oriented models thus obtained.
The International Working Group on FRBR/CIDOC CRM Harmonisation, chaired by Martin Doerr (ICS FORTH, Greece) and Patrick Le Bœuf (BnF, France), is affiliated at the same time to the IFLA FRBR Review Group and the CIDOC CRM Special Interest Group (CRM-SIG). Its past [and scheduled] meetings, on the occasion of which the current definition of FRBROOwas developed, include:
Meeting #1: 2003, Nov. 12-14, Paris;
Meeting #2: 2004, March 22-25, Heraklion, Greece;
Meeting #3: 2005, February 14-16, London;
Meeting #4: 2005, July 4-6, Heraklion, Greece;
Meeting #5: 2005, November 16-18, Nuremberg, Germany;
Meeting #6: 2006, March 27-29, London;
Meeting #7: 2006, June 26-29, Trondheim, Norway;
[Meeting #8: 2006, October 25-27, Heraklion, Greece.]
Part of this work supported by DELOS NoE.
This model attempts to represent FRBR by modelling in a sufficiently consistent way the conceptualisation of the reality behind library practice, as it is apparent from or implicit in FRBR. It is important to keep in mind that the aim is not to “transform” the IFLA FRBR model into something totally different or “better,” nor of course to “reject” it or “replace” it – but to express the conceptualisation of FRBR with the object-oriented methodology instead of the entity-relationship methodology, as an alternative. Nor is it the intention to force museums’ concerns and viewpoints into the bibliographic universe, or libraries’ concerns and viewpoints into the museum universe. Rather, the point is to identify the common grounds of the universe both sides share and to ensure mutual benefit by pursuing the following objectives.
1.1. A common view of cultural heritage information
The main goal is to reach a common view of cultural heritage information with respect to modelling, standards, recommendations, and practices. Libraries and museums are “memory institutions” – both strive to preserve cultural heritage objects, and information about such objects, and they often share the same users. Besides, the boundary between them is often blurred: libraries hold a number of “museum objects” and museums hold a number of “library objects;” the cultural heritage objects preserved in both types of institutions were created in the same cultural context or period, sometimes by the same agents, and they provide evidence of comparable cultural features. It seems therefore appropriate to build a common conceptualisation of the information gathered by the two types of organisations about cultural heritage.
1.2. A verification of FRBR’s internal consistency
Expressing the FRBR model in a different formalism than the one in which it was originally developed is also a good opportunity to correct some semantic inconsistencies or inaccuracies in the formulation of FRBR, that may be regarded as negligible as far as FRBRER is only used in a library catalogue context, but that prove to be quite crucial from the moment one strives to design an overall model for the integration of cultural heritage related information.
1.3. An enablement of information interoperability and integration
Mediation tools and Semantic Web activities require an integrated, shared ontology for the information accumulated by both libraries and museums for all the collections that they hold, seen as a continuum from highly “standardised” products such as books, CDs, DVDs, etc., to “raw” materials such as plants or stones3, through “in-between” objects such as draft manuscripts or engraving plates. Besides, such typical “library objects” as books can be about museum objects, and museum objects can represent events or characters found in books (e.g., “Ophelia’s death”): such interrelationships should be either integrated in common information storage, or at least virtually integrated through mediation devices that allow a query to be simultaneously launched on distinct information depositories, which requires common semantic tools such as FRBROO plugged into CIDOC CRM.
The CIDOC CRM model is influenced by the process of FRBR’s re-formulation as well. Modelling bibliographic information highlights some issues that may have been overlooked during the development of CIDOC CRM, and the way such issues were addressed in FRBROO resulted in some cases in making changes in the CIDOC CRM model.
1.5. An extension of the scope of FRBR and the CIDOC CRM
The harmonisation between the two models is also an opportunity to extend the scope of the CIDOC CRM to bibliographic information, which paves the way for extensions to other domains and formats, such as EAD, TEI, MPEG7, just to name a few. Consequently, it also extends the scope of FRBR to cultural materials, since FRBR “inherits” all concepts of the CIDOC CRM, and opens the way for FRBR to benefit from further extensions of the scope of CIDOC CRM, such as the scientific heritage of observations and experiments.
1.6. A first step toward future applications aiming at a global knowledge network
Defining FRBROO opens the way to future applications, related to Semantic Web activities, that will enable Web services to re-use seamlessly cultural and other information stored in heterogeneous library and museum databases, and create semantic paths between and among them.