I have not been able to follow this discussion as closely as I would have liked to, so I apologize if I have missed something, but just to take a step back: if we are talking about the bibliographic universe, it seems to me that we are starting from the wrong place when we find ourselves defining personhood rather than describing bibliographic identities.
FRBR-LRM, as a model, leaves me with the impression that library cataloging has sailed past the twentieth century into a new post-positivism in which it is perfectly "natural" to assert that we, as catalogers, can be certain about what is real and what is fictitious (and ignore or deprecate the latter).
Shouldn't we be talking about bibliographic identities, and identity management, first and foremost, rather than privileging our claims about the "real" world (which after all may not be as real as we think)?
If we want to assert that there is a real-world Person behind a bibliographic identity, then we should do that. But to assert that an identity cannot be an instance of Person because it is "generally considered fictional, literary or purely legendary" seems highly reductive, as Bob Maxwell and others have said.
For example: if we do an ISNI search for Fernando Pessoa* (0000 0001 2103 1824), we find a long, probably incomplete, list of associated names (nomens). We also find a list of "related identities" qualified as pseudonyms. If we click the hyperlink for the first one ("Caeiro, Alberto"), we see that this identity has its own ISNI (0000 0001 2100 2564), to which several nomens have been attached (including "Pessoa, Fernando").
Now, we know that these identities are all the product of a single (human) intelligence whose birth name was "Fernando Ant�nio Nogueira de Seabra Pessoa," but, in the context of ISNI's bibliographic universe, they have been treated as potentially independent bibliographic identities. In that sense, they are as real as anything.
The question that it seems to me we should be asking is rather: how do we model identity--not agency--in the context of the bibliographic universe?
* Portuguese modernist writer who created a series of "heteronyms" or alternative identities, complete with personal biographies. Pessoa viewed his heteronyms as existing independently from his own "orthonymic" identity.
Tim A. Thompson
Metadata Librarian (Spanish/Portuguese Specialty)
Princeton University Library
693 Alexander Road, 2nd Floor
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
(609) 258-2597 (office)
(201) 423-9972 (mobile)
I regretted as soon as I hit send that I asked the questions of ignoring FRBR-LRM, thinking it might be taken as combative. I’m trying to understand the fallout of a situation where different libraries might agreed to disagree.
I too only am interested in models because of what they allow us to say or not say about our resources, models that reflect the reality of cataloging practice and meet use cases. Your Snoopy example is perfect.
Re: high level modeling and on the ground cataloging practice, I envision a lot more modeling happening in the cataloger community as we extend the models into particular domains. It will also be critical when we look to consume data from outside library sources of data to ensure it is all semantically coherent.
Steven, I want to thank you for making sense of this, it has been a challenge for many of us.
Regarding your last question, that is really the heart of the matter for me. I would be pretty content not to worry about "models of the bibliographic universe" at all, really. But if it's going to impact our work, then I must. And I worry that a model that doesn't support basic cataloging functions will become a standard for the profession.
When I read statements from the RSC chair like this, regarding the definition of "person" as a class that excludes non-actual people:
\"the definition that offers the best fit with data assigned to real-world persons by those communities closest to the "bibliographic universe"; that is, the publishing and cultural heritage communities ... how can digital humanities researchers trust such data? What about literary metrics?"
I worry that we practitioners are going to find ourselves at cross-purposes with the IFLA "model making" community.
It is all well and good to try and make our data useful outside of context of library discovery BUT if doing so forces us to make our data less useful to library patrons, that's not a trade-off I'm comfortable with. In the specific context of this question of fictional vs real people, I think there are very practical reasons to treat them as essentially the same. (If we had to go back to establishing every fictional character who has "written" a book as a subject, I think it would slow us down considerably.)
Moreover if a patron asks the library catalog for a book by Snoopy, do we really want them to have to say to themselves, "Well, not actually by Snoopy but attributed to him because Snoopy is not real and therefore cannot be considered an agent"?
That said it's not really clear to me what the exact relationship between "high level models" and actual cataloging practice will be. The impact of the original FRBR model on how we talk about what we do has been pretty profound, but I'm not sure it's changed how we do it all that much.
Acquisitions and Discovery Enhancement
At the heart of the matter is that there are circumstances where we want to say things about Persons (and other entities), even if they aren’t “real” by someone’s standards. What we want to say about them are mostly the same things we say about real entities. A simple subclass of FictionalPerson, FictionalPlace, etc. (or byte/indicator in MARC formats) would allow us to record this information, and still treat the related data differently in applications when we want to (or not when it is deemed unnecessary). The dates related to James T. Kirk wouldn’t look so bad if we also displayed that he is a FictionalPerson, but that all could be left to local implementation. Information models shouldn't be too opinionated about display; after all, they’re suppose to be format/technology agnostic.
The grey area between fiction and non-fiction should be handled with more nuance, but this too requires the entities to be treated as the types they are or mimic, and not strictly as nomens.
I guess I’m wondering (sincerely)… What happens if FRBR-LRM is set in its ways? What happens if some libraries choose to ignore FRBR-LRM, and use models that are less semantically strict and… make it easier to say what we want and… align with other data on the web?
Stephen Hearn said, “We inhabit both the real and the bibliographic universe.” I agree there needs to be a place for fictional persons and other entities in the bibliographic universe, but catalogs are more valuable if they give the user some way of evaluating whether someone is real or not. I still think that when you use dates, as I said a few months ago, with someone’s name, you are implying they have a place in the real universe. “Fictional” should be coded somewhere on the authority for fictional persons or other entities.
Disciplines like science and history are all about what is real. I suppose if you were creating a catalog entirely for science fiction works—or maybe better, science fiction characters—it would make sense to treat all dates as equal, whether real or fictional. But in a catalog that includes materials for disciplines like science and history, I’d rather have James T. Kirk’s dates somewhere besides the 100 $d. If they were in some other field (maybe 046 with a special code meaning fictional?), someone could create a database of fictional persons from the authority file without confusing people who are looking for real persons.
Just my two cents.
UAB Lister Hill Library
As you would perhaps expect, I agree completely. Either the LRM definition of “Person” needs to be less restrictive, or agency needs to be expressed as a relationship rather than with the “Agent” superclass. The latter, in my view, is more semantically correct and also more effective. It’s much more useful to be able to assign an agency relationship to anything presented as an agent, rather than enumerate the things that could be agents – especially in the restrictive way that the LRM draft has it.
That way if a fictitious character or non-human animal is presented as an agent in relation to a work or expression, we can record that relationship (whether we call it authorship, or purported authorship).
This is akin to the way we might treat entities as subjects. The class describes what an entity is, but “agent” or “subject” is a relationship. Not a superclass.
Otherwise, the only way we can express the agency relationship of the Nomens of these entities to works or expressions, is by pretending they are really the Nomens of real humans who are associated with them in some way.
Authority Control Team Manager
The British Library
Tel.: +44 (0)1937 546104
“You’re very clever, young man, very clever. But it’s turtles all the way down.”
Just to bring this back to my original point, details about what is or is not fictitious or how it should be labeled are moot in the LRM as proposed because anything other than so-called “real” persons (that is, those that exist in the “real” universe) are excluded from the category of person or agent. Being able to label instances of the person entity (or for that matter, corporate body or family) as “fictitious” or “legendary” or “deity” or whatever is great, but the model has to permit you to describe the instance in the first place before you can apply a label. Not recognizing the agency of non-human persons results in an inaccurate model of the bibliographic universe. In my opinion, this needs to be reversed before we can start talking about including an attribute such as “fictitious/legendary/real” in the entity description.
Robert L. Maxwell
Ancient Languages and Special Collections Librarian
6728 Harold B. Lee Library
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
"We should set an example for all the world, rather than confine ourselves to the course which has been heretofore pursued"--Eliza R. Snow, 1842.
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
On Behalf Of Stephen Hearn
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 11:33 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: FRBR-LRM: The bibliographic universe and non-human and fictitious agents
The use case for labeling fictitious entities would be to enable users to exclude them from searches for real entities. Someone searching for male authors living in London in the late 1800s might not want to find Dr. Watson in their results. Someone searching for women in Rome might not want to include the goddess Diana.The option of labeling Watson and Diana as fictitious entities (or with some such term and/or code) would resolve that. We have the option now to a degree, but the terminology used to indicate fictitiousness/irreality varies.
Whenever I play "Who am I?" one of the first questions asked is, "Are you real?" It's a primary sort for most people. Occasionally that question is hard to answer in the game, but mostly it's easy. Without questioning the value of more fine grained philosophical analysis, I think we should generally categorize entities with games like "Who am I?" and "Twenty questions" as our model of inquiry.
On Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 8:38 AM, Steven Folsom <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
We need to be careful about what we call fictitious. Without getting too heady, who gets to say what is fictional? Every weekend I go for a walk in the woods with my daughters up Fairy Hike Mountain. I’m pretty sure that experience is real, but you won’t find any mention of it except for hand-drawn map in my dining room. Are places referred to in religious texts real? I don’t want our metadata taking those positions. What’s the use case? Are we really worried that someone will try to get a ticket to Narnia?
I think the safest/easiest thing we can do is to allow things to be things if we want to describe them similarly. A person can be a person and still be the alternate identity for another person. If we don’t know the person is really a pen name, then obviously we don’t say it. If we know they are a pen name, but we don’t have a lot of details on the person/s who write as that that person, we only say what we know. Using existing ontologies:
<Work1> dcterms:creator <Person1> .
<Person1> a foaf:Person ;
rdau:P60037 <Person2> .
Note, that if a we said Person2 (the “real” person) created Work1 we wouldn’t be able to satisfy searches for things written by Benjamin Franklin as Alice Addertongue. We would only know generally that Benjamin Franklin also wrote as Alice Addertongue. Also, if Person1 (the alternate identity) was only a Nomen, we couldn’t use the dcterms:creator property because it has a range of dcterms:Agent. Aligning data would become more complicated than it need be.
Re: Wrongful attributions, Something erroneously attributed to someone is different, and I would suggest we not have one way to say something is either wrongfully attributed, attributed to a fictional person, or both. We could extend the PROV qualifiedAttribution pattern (perhaps with a subclass) to say something was wrongfully attributed.
<Work1> dcterms:creator <Person1> ;
prov:qualifiedAttribution <Attribution1> .
<Person1> a foaf:Person ;
rdau:P60037 <Person2> .
<Attribution1> a ex:WrongAttribution ;
prov:agent <Person3> .
The list of use cases isn't really about fictitious entities--it's about fictitious creator/contributor relationships, relationships which are asserted in bibliographic objects for various reasons but known to be false in real-world terms. Some of them involve fictitious entities, but not all.
A list of use cases for fictitious entities should certainly include subject use. Presumably in FRBR-LRM, "subject" is not defined as an entity class because it is co-extensive with res ("LRM-R12, Work / has as subject / res").
A separate question would be whether fictitiousness should be an attribute of res to identify fictitious entities. I'd argue that it should be. It can arguably be combined with any of the categories defined for res and its subentities, so defining it at the level of res makes sense.
These suggestions are all great, but one of the biggest categories still not considered is a work about a fictitious character. The most common example could be a work about a legendary character or about a god/goddess from mythology. If the model includes fictitious entities, shouldn't it take into account these kinds of entities too?
University of Washington Libraries
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Kathie Coblentz <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, March 28, 2016 9:04 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: FRBR-LRM: The bibliographic universe and non-human and fictitious agents
On Fri, 25 Mar 2016 00:39:22 +0000, Wilson, Pete <[log in to unmask]>
>My working formulation is that one has an "attributed
>creator/contributor" relationship and the other has the
>current "real" creator/contributor relationship. The range
>of attributed creator/ contributor relationships would not be
>limited to "real" entities, though it would include them.
>Some such formulation for expressing evident but not-real
>relationships would be useful in a variety of cases:
> * A work attributed to a fictional entity
> * A work falsely attributed in the past and on some
>manifestations to a real entity
> * A work attributed to a real person but known to be
>ghostwritten by another person
> * A work attributed to a house pseudonym shared by
>many unrelated authors, but also known to be by a
Good list, and I like David Proch?zka's suggestion to use "attributed name" in
I would emend the second list item to read:
* A work falsely or erroneously attributed to a real entity
That would include cases where the real author has been identified as someone
other than the entity to whom the work has been attributed either on some
manifestations or in reference sources. Doesn't matter whether the work was
originally issued with this attribution, or anonymously.
And how about adding another item to the list?
* A work attributed to a real non-human entity but known to be the
intellectual product of a human entity
This would include cases like the one discussed earlier on this (or another?)
forum of "Bo Obama," the presidential dog, who is a real dog but manifestly not
the entity responsible for "Bo confidential" (2009), the work for which his NAR
record was created. (Since the "as told to" entity in this case was "the editors
of MAD Magazine," it's a pretty good bet that the work was a satire, and not a
serious attempt to recreate the reality of Bo's daily life from the canine point
It would also cover the case of Tuxedo Hess (lccn no2015080606), who I am sure
is a fine animal, an excellent grazer, and a very good galloper, but if truth be
told, not much of a storyteller, and not terribly eloquent in the English
1000 Tuxedo Hess ǂc (Horse)
372 Grazing ǂa Galloping ǂa Storytelling ǂ2 lcsh
670 Tuxedo Hess (Horse). Tuxedo's tails [crossed out] tales, 2015: ǂb title
page (written by Tuxedo Hess) page 4 of cover (a real rescue horse)
Kathie Coblentz, Rare Materials Cataloger
Special Collections/Special Formats Processing
The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
5th Avenue and 42nd Street, Room 313
New York, NY 10018
[log in to unmask]
My opinions, not NYPL's
Stephen Hearn, Metadata Strategist
Data Management & Access, University Libraries
University of Minnesota
160 Wilson Library
309 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Experience the British Library online at www.bl.uk
The British Library’s latest Annual Report and Accounts : www.bl.uk/aboutus/annrep/index.html
Help the British Library conserve the world's knowledge. Adopt a Book. www.bl.uk/adoptabook
The Library's St Pancras site is WiFi - enabled
The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended for the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete this e-mail and notify the [log in to unmask] : The contents of this e-mail must not be disclosed or copied without the sender's consent.
The statements and opinions expressed in this message are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the British Library. The British Library does not take any responsibility for the views of the author.
Think before you print