One question strikes me as germane to the back-and-forth over what an “annotation” is and how the real world is evinced in BIBFRAME:

Is the BIBFRAME thingy* a surrogate for the resource?

In libraries and archives, we discuss descriptions of things as being surrogates for the things themselves.  Does that concept help here?



*thingy = “record” or “description”.    If you are not using the word “record” what do you call a BIBFRAME thingy?

Kate Bowers
Collections Services Archivist for Metadata, Systems, and Standards
Harvard University Archives
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From: Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Sanderson
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 4:02 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [BIBFRAME] Annotations in BibFrame

Hi Karen,

On Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 12:28 PM, Karen Coyle <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
On 1/13/15 8:17 AM, Robert Sanderson wrote:
I'm less concerned about exact definitions and more about the last case of HeldItem as a subClass of Annotation.  Regardless of the exact definition, I suggest that it is impossible for the same resource to be both a real world physical object and a digital annotation at the same time.
This tells me that part of the definition of Annotation is that the annotation body is a digital object, not a real world object (RWO). And you contend that holdings information is a RWO. Have I understood your meaning correctly?

Almost. The annotation itself is a digital object, the body could be anything. The model in BibFrame is that HeldItem is a subClass of bf:Annotation, which has a bf:annotationBody.

I contend that currently, according to the vocabulary, the Annotation is the RWO. In particular, it has properties like bf:barcode (Identification number of the physical item) and bf:circulationStatus (Circulation status of an item).  The holdings record does not have a barcode, nor is it an annotation for that matter.

If so, then my reply is truly in the definitions: Are there truly RWOs in library data?  Library data has personal names, not persons. Book titles but not books.

Which I have previously argued is incompatible with Linked Data, as it is centered around resources not strings.  Or at the very least, any advantage of using Linked Data is lost when you use it only as a 1:1 transliteration of MARC's strings.

Holdings data is a particularly odd one because there's a mixup between holdings (what library owns a resource and where it is located in the library) and item-level descriptive information (which is relatively rare in libraries but is primary in archives and museums).

Absolutely agree.

Logically, there is a RWO, but illogically its physicality is described in what is defined in the cataloging rules as an abstract entity for a class of things (FRBR:Manifestation or BF:Instance). The actual physical item is often asserted solely by the presence of a barcode number. With this model, information about holdings (e.g. location) is just a digital resource that says something about another digital resource.

To return to my litmus test, what is the creation date of the resource?  If it's the creation date of the record, then I agree (and think the we need to change the model).  If it's the printing date of the physical object, then it's not the digital resource.

The larger question is: should library catalog data address "real world objects" and, if so, what are those objects? The multi-entity models, FRBR or BF, make this an even harder question, IMO, because there is nothing that represents the whole that the RWO is. Delegating the RWO to an annotation is pretty bad; not recognizing that the library description is more than an abstraction with a bar code is worse.

If there is any thought to integrate with Archival, Museum, Gallery and similar cultural heritage or memory institution data, or beyond our natural partners to other institutions, then we absolutely must engage with this question.  If we wish to remain our own special, unique and never-re-used snowflake, then we can persevere with our arcane distinctions that were only ever introduced to save bits due to a format designed for tape storage.


Rob Sanderson
Information Standards Advocate
Digital Library Systems and Services
Stanford, CA 94305