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Going FRBRish

Went to a CLA preconference today on FRBR, and drank the KoolAid! I so get it. From the cataloger’s point of view, it is nice and tidy. From the public service point of view, FRBR (or things FRBRish, such as RedLightGreen) is absolutely the best thing to happen to the library catalog since the invention of the book.

Most of the explanations I’ve heard about FRBR are… well, arcane to the point of meaningless. So let me put it this way. Imagine someone searching for a book–not a librarian someone, just a mere mortal who wants what we offer–and that someone is able to cut the crap and get to the item, instead of browsing a gadzillion different versions of the same intellectual work. That’s what FRBR does. You search, you see a title, and instead of being confronted with too many entries and decisions, you are able to say “I want to a copy of Hamlet,” and actually get it. You can still focus on a particular edition–or manifestation–if you want to, but the conceptual model assumes that most users want to read the work, and that is where the catalog should start–not with an exhausting list of editions, but with the best matches for what you are looking for.


OCLC has been doing some good work with FRBR, but I’m with Roy that RedLightGreen is currently the most interesting project in the FRBRish world (call it FUR-bish). Go take a look. Think. Talk. Imagine!

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