Hi Karen et al.


I don’t know if this will be of any use whatsoever, but I may as well share my little musing which some time ago I constructed after finding my copy of “The Fable of the Bees” after RDA was instituted at my workplace.


This email isn’t about Mandeville’s work (which was originally just a short-“ish” poem but then much expanded to a book, which is an interesting FRBR exercise in itself), but about a thought-experiment I devised using analogies of the hive for libraries and their holdings, and honeycombs for all the works/titles and their relationships. 


I imagined something a little bit like Karen’s post but in a different sort of order.  Here it is, odd as it is:


1.       If there is something like a work which is created (Intellectual Entity, Concept), you have intellectual “honey” to put in the “hive.” This to my mind equates roughly to Karen’s “Work-Ness”

2.       A cataloguer then creates a bibliographic “cell, ”which I imagined to be the title and its format (not really a “Work Entity”, I confused this with expressions/manifestations, and I see David’s DVD/Blu-Ray example here) --- this is where my little analogy falls over – do cataloguers make the “right decisions” or just “necessary decisions”?

3.       Next I imagined a matrix of attributes/elements in the FRBR sense, and gave them general names borrowed from orienteering – I see this to be somewhat like Karen’s “Work description”


--description (well, description)

--direction (access points / horizontal, vertical relationships)

--details (subject)

--distance (i.e. extent, size, etc.)

--designation (i.e. language of work, etc.)

                ---------And added one of my own,

--demarcation (uniform title, authorities, authorised access points) -- determines which other cells would connect (like “Work Decision”?)---and from here other cells can connect to our cell making relationships, etc.


4.       The result: A bibliographic container for the “Work-Entity,” represented by the hexagonal structure of a cell in the honeycomb—which would embody the final output of the cataloguer.


Karen notes under her “Work-ness”   ‘First there is the concept that every resource embodies something that could be called a "work" and that this work is a human creation. The idea of the work probably dates back as far as the recognition that humans create things, and that those things have meaning. There is no doubt that there is "work-ness" in all created things’


                I agree completed, and obviously I have conflated FRBR & RDA and other things in my little though-experiment description above.  It was some time ago But, as I mentioned, my intention was to use Mandeville’s bees to describe human output (like he did).


On reading Karen’s excellent contribution, my thinking (my “Up Shot”) is that as cataloguers the work is a problem for at least two reasons:  We (the cataloguers) seek to show things as we see them in a Bibliographic World (in our “hives” we make the “honey” fit into a “cell”!) and how creator/author, etc. may actually view their work (never mind the public at this point, sad as it is to say).


All I can suggest, in light of my failure above, is to urge that work on “What is a Work” tease out a way to either unite, or better differentiate i) Work-ness (“concept that every resource embodies something that could be called a "work" and that this work is a human creation”), and ii) Work-Decision (“this is the situation when a data creator determines whether the work to be described needs a unique and unifying entry within the stated cataloging environment to bring together exemplars of the same work that may be described differently”) so that it is clearer in cataloguing?


Or will, in the words of Sappho, we have neither the honey, nor the bee when all is said and done?


Kind regards,


Steve Clement

Steve Clement | Senior Collection Description Librarian

National Library of New Zealand | The Puma Tauranga o Aotearoa

Direct Dial: +64 4 470 4494 | 58-78 Molesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington 6011

PO Box 12340, Thorndon, Wellington 6144, New Zealand |






From: Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of David Pimentel
Sent: Saturday, 15 July 2017 7:12 a.m.
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [BIBFRAME] Discussion of "the work"


I appreciate this analysis of our current predicament.  Karen's conclusion indicates that we'd benefit by focusing on "services we want the work to provide in the future" and I agree wholeheartedly.


From my perspective—at a public library where customer demand frequently prompts us to acquire a single popular title in five formats (print, large-type, ebook, cd-book, and eaudio)—one helpful service would be to synchronize series and subject access points.  The same could apply to cast and crew for DVD and Blu-Ray versions of a single movie.  In terms of Karen's outline, I see this as closing the gap between "work description" and "work entity" as much as possible.




David Pimentel ~ Senior Cataloging and Metadata Librarian

Denver Public Library ~ 720.865.1123


On Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 8:08 AM, Karen Coyle <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


Due to having been on some committees that were tasked with attempting
to define "the work" I have some thoughts on that topic which I wrote up
as a blog post:

In summary, I define four different meanings/aspects:

* Work-ness - a general sense that there are works inherent in creation
* work-description - what library cataloging does to describe works
* work decision - creating an authoritative identity for the work in the
form of a author/uniform title/edition heading
* work entity - the data thing defined in FRBRer, BIBFRAME, RDA/RDF as
"the work"

I welcome comments and discussion.
Karen Coyle
[log in to unmask]
m: +1-510-435-8234
skype: kcoylenet/+1-510-984-3600