Benefits and challenges of BIBFRAME. Cataloging special format materials, implementation, and continuing educational resources

Published date16 September 2019
Date16 September 2019
AuthorJung-Ran Park,Lorraine L. Richards,Andrew Brenza
Subject MatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library technology,Information behaviour & retrieval,Information user studies,Metadata,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Benefits and challenges
Cataloging special format materials,
implementation, and continuing
educational resources
Jung-Ran Park, Lorraine L. Richards and Andrew Brenza
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to highlight the potential strengths and weaknesses of the
BIBFRAME bibliographic model and outline its purpose and key features. In addition, it discusses specific
aspects of the model with respect to the pre-existing models of bibliographic description.
Design/methodology/approach A review of source and secondary materials regarding BIBFRAME was
undertaken, and a comparison of the conclusions derived from this literature was made to the pre-existing
models of bibliographic description.
Findings If the BIBFRAME Initiative can overcome what will likely be some significant challenges to the
development and implementation of the model, BIBFRAME appears to be poised tobecome the next standard
of bibliographic description and exchange for the library community.
Research limitations/implications The findings and conclusions of this paper are based upon an
in-depth literature review, not on theoretical or empirical derivations or examples. As a result, further
research of both theoretical and empirical natures need to be developed.
Practical implications BIBFRAME may well become the next standard of bibliographic description and
exchange for the library community, leading to significant changes in cataloging practices over the years.
Social implications To the extent that BIBFRAME can expand discovery mechanisms, the vast array of
information currently available to information seekers will open up in previously unthought of ways.
Originality/value This paper synthesizes a literature that was developed during a more preliminary
design of the bibliographic model BIBFRAME and adds to the literatureby discussing newer capabilities that
have been designed into BIBFRAME 2.0.
Keywords Video, Linked data, Bibliographic standards, Discovery, Audio media, Bibliographic models
Paper type Literature review
Library records are currently difficult to discover and deconstruct outside of the library
environment.Although many librarieshave opened their catalogs to theWorld Wide Web, the
information contained in each record is still represented as an entire record in itself.
This makesit difficult to discover relevantrelationships betweenthe individual facts available
within the record if one is performing an online search. A great deal of highly useful
informationcontained within the libraryrecords (frequently catalogedin MARC) goes unused.
For instance, a user may find it highly useful to know of a variety of works created by the
same author,but a web search of the catalog will notprovide them this informationeasily and
intuitively. They need to leave the bibliographic record to conduct searches of the multiple
records in a search engine. The bibliographic record still resembles the paper card catalog
records of a pre-internet era, and usersare increasingly requesting morecomplex information
about resources.Because of this, the Library of Congress hasdeveloped a high-level model of
bibliographic description called the Bibliographic Framework Initiative, or BIBFRAME.
BIBFRAME aims both to replace MARC as a bibliographic standard and to provide a
frameworkfor optimizing library datawithin the networked environment(BIBFRAME, 2012).
BIBFRAME is an entity-relation model similar to the functional requirements
for bibliographic description (FRBR) model. It consists of entities and attributes designed
Library Hi Tech
Vol. 37 No. 3, 2019
pp. 549-565
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/LHT-08-2017-0176
Received 16 August 2017
Revised 6 August 2018
17 September 2018
Accepted 6 October 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Benefits and
challenges of
for the description of resources typically managed by cultural heritage institutions.
As a result, BIBFRAME emphasizes its focus on capturing data elements relevant to
bibliographic description, such as title, author, publisher, etc., rather than the creation of
complete bibliographic records the historical focus of the library community. In this way,
BIBFRAME establishes a framework for bibliographic description that clearly separates
information related to the intellectual contents of resources from their physical properties.
The newest BIBFRAME model, version 2.0, consists of three core class entities:
(1) work: a resource reflecting a conceptual essence of the cataloged resource
(BIBFRAME, n.d.-c);
(2) instance: a material embodiment of a Work(BIBFRAME, n.d.-c); and
(3) item: an actual copy (physical or electronic) of an Instance(BIBFRAME, n.d.-c).
BIBFRAME, like its predecessor FRBR, separates the intellectual content from the physical
carrier of an information resource, thereby re-imagining bibliographic description itself.
However, instead of FRBRs four entity classes (work, expression, manifestation, and item),
BIBFRAME models only three. Figure 1 compares the core entities of the FRBR model with
those of the BIBFRAME 2.0 model.
Figure 2 is a graphical depiction of the BIBFRAME model that highlights the
relationships between its core entities.
Within its entity-relation model, BIBFRAME is modeled within RDF/XML in order to
create compatibility with Semantic Web principles. The use of RDF/XML permits
relationships to be processed more easily by machines, making library data more
compatible with the web environment. In other words, it allows library data to be found
more easily by internet search engines, and, by extension, users. BIBFRAME uses universal
resource identifiers, or URIs, to name entities and data values, instead of text strings.
Thus, the entire BIBFRAME vocabulary of entities and properties has been rendered in URI
form (BIBFRAME, 2014), increasing machine-readability.
BIBFRAME has thus moved toward representing the component parts of the record as
discrete pieces of bibliographic data. With the separation of content and the re-imagining
of description, catalogers are potentially offered the flexibility to describe many of the
Figure 1.
comparison of the
main class entities
for FRBR and

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