I just got back from a 3 hour “RDA boot camp” seminar, which I participated in as a part of the Metadata class I am in this semester. We got a lot of RDA and FRBR instruction in Cataloging II last fall, but it was extremely helpful to have a refresher. One aspect I’m still consistently confused by is distinguishing Expressions from Manifestations, and I’d like to develop more examples and analogies to help myself comprehend the difference.
Here is a brief rundown of FRBR (Fundamental Requirements for Bibliographic Records) for any readers who are not familiar (I say it is for you readers, but really I think the act of explaining it will probably also benefit me and help me understand it more thoroughly.)
Okay, so FRBR is a conceptual model that’s handy to consider when creating a catalog record and thinking about how users will be searching among records for similar items. FRBR kindly provides specific terminology to use when describing concepts in cataloging; this includes three distinct groups of entities, each of which represent some attributes of whatever it is you are creating a catalog record for. For now I’ll just be talking about Group 1. Group 1 entities are as follows, (these definitions and examples are inspired by those used in the seminar slides, courtesy of Dr. Jane Greenberg):
- Work–the concept or idea of the entity (e.g. “Across the Universe” song by The Beatles)
- Expression–different ways the concept of this song is expressed (e.g. 1970 Let it Be version of song, 2009 remixed Let it Be… Naked version of song, World Wildlife Federation version of song with bird noises)
- Manifestation–formats any of the expressions can be found in (e.g. LP, CD, MP3, etc. of any of the expressions)
- Item–distinct, individual, specific manifestation (e.g., the track on a specific copy of the 1970 Let it Be LP that is in my living room.)
(You can remember the hierarchy by saying WEMI. Librarians ❤ acronyms.)
As I mentioned up in my introductory paragraph, I find Expressions and Manifestations confusing. Let’s consider the most complicated hypothetical example I can immediately think of that will completely fortify my anglophilia: an audiobook of the Tolkien translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, narrated by Eric Idle or Ringo Starr or some awesome British individual. (…I don’t think this actually exists, but it would be so cool if it did. Also, unrelated, sometime maybe I will go on about my theory of how the Green Knight and Swamp Thing perform totally similar character roles.) Anyway, back to this multifaceted entity. The Work is the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and the Item is a particular copy of the iteration described above–maybe it is noteworthy on the item-level because it is a CD someone has listened to so many times that it skips in some parts. It is a translation, it is an audiobook, and it is narrated by a specific person. I think these are all Expression-level entities, and that Manifestations would occur when you consider the fact that a patron would want this audiobook in CD or cassette or digital version, but I am not 100% confident on my grasp of this.
So, more analogies might help comprehension, perhaps? This thought came into my mind when I was walking home from the seminar. I wish this walk was a lovely, wooded path, crossing through violet-embroidered vales, but it is actually a sidewalk adjacent to a highway. Nevertheless, there is greenery and the occasional white-tailed deer munching on said greenery, so it does make me think of adorable woodland creatures, and on this particular walk I started thinking about whether Group 1 Entities could be unpacked in terms of darling, furry creatures. So let’s think about some adorable squirrels.
- Item–this squirrel right here with the dear little tufted ears, eating something it has cleverly foraged
- Manifestation–Perhaps it is one of a litter of six totally cute squirrel pups. It is a manifestation of that litter and the whole Eurasian red squirrel family, young and old, across the continent.
- Expression–There are so many adorable squirrels in the world. Not all of them are Eurasian red squirrels! Some of them are Douglas squirrels. Or Uinta ground squirrels. Each kind of squirrel is an expression of squirreliness.
- Work–there are certainly DNA components that all squirrels have in common–the essence or concept of squirrel.
So there we have it–FRBR applied to squirrels, Beatles songs, and hypothetical audiobooks. Perhaps it will help explain FRBR Group 1 entities, perhaps we will all be too distracted by adorable animal photos and spend the rest of the day on cuteoverload.com instead of studying for our Web Design midterm. I really need to keep studying for this midterm, but what I really want to do is write more blog entries about the Occupy Wall Street library and spontaneous library generation. I’ve gotten really good leads from several super librarians, so this will be forthcoming.