Trying to understand the purpose of BIBFRAME Authorities I thought it might be interesting to look at how an existing library linked data project approached the same issue.

I've used the same example on another thread, but here is an example from Cambridge University Library linked data ( in Turtle:

@prefix rdf: <> .
@prefix dct: <> .
@prefix rdfs: <> .
@prefix foaf: <> .
@prefix owl: <> .

<> dct:title "Unpopular essays on technological progress" ;
                                                       dct:creator <> ;

<> rdfs:label "Rescher, Nicholas" ;
                                                                                 rdf:type foaf:Person ;
                                                                                 foaf:name "Rescher, Nicholas" ;
                                                                                 owl:sameAs <> .

This looks not that dissimilar to the approach as described by the BIBFRAME Authority which I believe would look something like (I don't think all aspects of this are clear, but I think this is about right):

@prefix bf: <> .
<> bf:title "Unpopular essays on technological progress" ;
                                                       bf:creator <> ;

<> bf:label "Rescher, Nicholas" ;
                                                                                 bf:type bf:Person ;
                                                                                 bf:hasVIAFLink <> .

In both cases there is the creation of a local entity - for Cambridge a FOAF Person, and in BIBFRAME a BIBFRAME Person ( suggests that Person is a subclass of Agent which is a subclass of Authority).

If I accept that BIBFRAME won't use existing vocabularies such as FOAF (While I'm sceptical about this as a reason I've started to reconcile myself to this being a firm decision in BIBFRAME that is unlikely to change) then these two approaches look, superficially, pretty close to each other.

What isn't clear to me is:

1) Does it make sense for Person, Organisation, Topic, Place etc. to be subclasses of Authority? Are there properties that a BIBFRAME Authority has that span across all the types that are currently regarded as BIBFRAME Authorities?
2) Is a BIBFRAME Agent equivalent to a foaf:Agent, or is it intended as a more conceptual entity? (a similar question can be asked of Place)
3) Is it intended that each BIBFRAME Authority is linked to only one BIBFRAME Work or Instance? (this is a question directly or indirectly raised by some of the other discussion around this)

This questions are linked I think.

One other thought. One of the things that suggests is that the $0 control field from existing MARC records will be used in the creation of BIBFRAME Authorities. So consider two (highly abbreviated) MARC records:

245 00 $aBarchester Towers
1001#$aTrollope, Anthony,$d1815-1882.$0(isni)1234567899999799

245 04 $aThe Warden
1001#$aTrollope, Anthony,$d1815-1882.$0(viaf)61683295

Under the current description (as far as I can understand it) of BIBFRAME this would convert in one of the following ways:

@prefix bf: <> .
<> bf:title "Barchester Towers" ;
                                                       bf:creator <> ;

<> bf:title "The Warden" ;
                                                       bf:creator <> ;

<> bf:label "Trollope, Anthony" ;
                                                                                 bf:type bf:Person ;
                                                                                 bf:hasVIAFLink <> ;
                                                                                 bf:hasISNILink <> .


<> bf:title "Barchester Towers" ;
                                                       bf:creator <> ;

<> bf:label "Trollope, Anthony" ;
                                                                                 bf:type bf:Person ;
                                                                                 bf:hasVIAFLink <> .

<> bf:title "The Warden" ;
                                                       bf:creator <> ;

<> bf:label "Trollope, Anthony" ;
                                                                                 bf:type bf:Person ;
                                                                                 bf:hasISNILink <> .

The first representation is what I'd naturally hope for. The second is what I think would be required (under the current proposals) to roundtrip between MARC and BIBFRAME.

If we wanted to achieve something between these two options - i.e. a single entity for Trollope, but the ability to roundtrip with MARC, then we would need to but the information about 'authority used in relation to this work' into a different structure (possibly along the lines that Tom has already proposed in terms of linking a creator to a work...?)

Sorry to go on


Owen Stephens
Owen Stephens Consulting
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Telephone: 0121 288 6936

On 15 May 2013, at 00:45, Karen Coyle <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


I had to do some diagrams to explain what I see as the possible relations between BIBFRAME "authorities" and "library authorities, and since email doesn't work well for that I did a blog post instead:

I apologize if this splits the conversation, and can echo back here any significant comments.

The main gist is exploring options for the positioning of the BIBFRAME authority thing in relation to the traditional library authority "record."

It needs some example code, but I'm struggling with that because code isn't very readable, and the more readable types tend to mask the triple-ness of the underlying data.

Owen Stephens has given me an idea for a fourth diagram, which I will add if I get a chance.


Karen Coyle
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m: 1-510-435-8234
skype: kcoylenet