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FRBR-y things

The more I look at FRBR, the more I recognize how it relates to the world at large. I see, or at least I think I do, FRBR-y type ideas everywhere.

For example, I remember when Amazon was just for books. I remember when searching Amazon you’d get a list of results and each result was a different edition or publication or a format (sort of like our bibliographic records today).  Somewhere along the line Amazon changed. I don’t know exactly when it happened but it happened. Now if you search Amazon for a book, the first result you get lists the basics about the book (work level) and has links to the paperback edition (manifestation), hardback edition (manifestation), first edition (expression), second edition (expression), audio versions (expression), etc. They’re showing their WEMI. This, to me, is FRBRized.

Relationships also matter in FRBR – it’s not all about the WEMI. Whether it is the same (equivalent) or similar in subject (shared-characteristic), the relationships are being brought out in search in almost every commercial site out there – we are given the ‘answers’ but also ways to easily explore it further.

Search Home Depot to find a bathtub. You get a list of results then options to further limit the search. Hmm. Sounds very much like what Evergreen and VTLS and other ILS are beginning to do – the search results hit the middle of the screen and on the left is a column of different ways to limit the search down – to focus it to electronic books, or by a list of authors, or subjects, or whatever. This, to me, is FRBRized.

Users are seeking this type of search. They are used to this type of search and want it everywhere – I don’t blame them, I like it myself. I do not think user behavior changes in FRBR – I think it is exactly as it has always been. Start looking for something, try to identify that something, choose that something and get that something. This is true whether it is in a catalog or a database or a website or a grocery store – Find, Identify, Select and Obtain.

FRBR does seem to be everywhere – or rather, the ideas behind FRBR.  FRBR is specific to Bibliographic records (thus the acronym), that is, what we call FRBR/WEMI etc. in libraryland has different names in the outside world but really the ideas are universal. So it seems to me.

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