BIBFRAME

Bibliographic Framework Initiative (Library of Congress)

The Library of Congress > BIBFRAME > Frequently Asked Questions

bf:BIBFRAMEQuestions

  1. What is the Bibliographic Framework Initiative?
  2. What is the BIBFRAME Model and BIBFRAME Vocabulary?
  3. What are the general differences between MARC and BIBFRAME?
  4. Will RDA elements be part of the BIBFRAME vocabulary?
  5. How do I use bibliographic data using cataloging rules other than AACR2 or RDA in the context of BIBFRAME?
  6. Why a single namespace for the BIBFRAME vocabulary?
  7. How is the BIBFRAME Vocabulary and Documentation licensed?
  8. When should we move to BIBFRAME?
  9. Are my MARC records convertible into BIBFRAME?
  10. Can I get MARC records from BIBFRAME resources?
  11. How will users/systems/organizations exchange or transfer BIBFRAME resources?
  12. BIBFRAME seems to be concentrating on mapping MARC fields--isn't this a new format instead of repackaging an old one?
  13. Who are the Early Experimenters and what are they contributing to the process?
  14. How can I get involved in BIBFRAME?

Answers

About the Model

  1. What is the Bibliographic Framework Initiative?

    BIBFRAME Initiative is the foundation for the future of bibliographic description that happens on the web and in the networked world. It is designed to integrate with and engage in the wider information community and still serve the very specific needs of libraries. The BIBFRAME Initiative will bring new ways to:

    • Differentiate clearly between conceptual content and its physical/digital manifestation(s)
    • Unambiguously identify information entities (e.g., authorities)
    • Leverage and expose relationships between and among entities

    In a web-scale world, it is imperative to be able to cite library data in a way that differentiates the conceptual work (a title and author) from the physical details about that work's manifestation (page numbers, whether it has illustrations). It is equally important to produce library data so that it clearly identifies entities involved in the creation of a resource (authors, publishers) and the concepts (subjects) associated with a resource.

    Although the BIBFRAME Initiative will instantiate a new way to represent and exchange bibliographic data – that is, replace the Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) format – its scope is broader. As an initiative, it is investigating all aspects of bibliographic description, data creation, and data exchange. In addition to replacing the MARC format, this includes accommodating different content models and cataloging rules, exploring new methods of data entry, and evaluating current exchange protocols.

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  2. What is the BIBFRAME Model and BIBFRAME Vocabulary?

    The BIBFRAME Model is a conceptual/practical model that balances the needs of those recording detailed bibliographic description, the needs of those describing other cultural materials, and those who do not require such a detailed level of description. There are four high-level classes, or entitities, in the BIBFRAME Model:

    BIBFRAME Work identifies the conceptual essence of something; a BIBFRAME Instance reflects the material embodiment of a Work; a BIBFRAME Authority identifies a thing or concept associated with a BIBFRAME Work or Instance; and a BIBFRAME Annotation provides a new way to expand the description of a BIBFRAME Work, Instance, or Authority. You can read more about the BIBFRAME Model here.

    The BIBFRAME Vocabulary is the key to the description of resources. Like the MARC format has a defined set of elements and attributes, the BIBFRAME Vocabulary has a defined set of classes and properties. A class identifies a type of BIBFRAME resource (much like a MARC field might bundle a single concept); properties serve a means to further describe a BIBFRAME resource (much like MARC subfields more specifically identify aspects of the concept).

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  3. What are the general differences between MARC and BIBFRAME?

    As a bibliographic description format, the MARC format focuses on catalog records that are independently understandable. MARC aggregates information about the conceptual work and its physical carrier and uses strings for identifiers such as personal names, corporate name, subjects, etc. that have value outside the record itself.

    Instead of bundling everything neatly as a “record” and potentially duplicating information across multiple records, the BIBFRAME Model relies heavily on relationships between resources (Work-to-Work relationships; Work-to-Instance relationships; Work-to-Authority relationships). It manages this by using controlled identifiers for things (people, places, languages, etc). MARC employs some of these ideas already (geographic codes, language codes) but BIBFRAME seeks to make these aspects the norm rather than the exception. In short, the BIBFRAME Model is the library community’s formal entry point for becoming part of a much larger web of data, where the links between things are paramount.

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  4. Will RDA elements be part of the BIBFRAME vocabulary?

    Yes. RDA is an important source of elements in the vocabulary for BIBFRAME, even though it generally aims to be independent of any particular set of cataloging rules. We also expect community profiles to emerge which will accommodate additional elements.

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  5. How do I use bibliographic data using cataloging rules other than AACR2 or RDA in the context of BIBFRAME?
    Work is planned to analyze elements in other cataloging rule sets and reconcile or add them to the BIBFRAME vocabulary as appropriate. This along with community profiles will enable broad use of BIBFRAME.

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  6. Why a single namespace for the BIBFRAME vocabulary?

    There are many benefits of vocabulary reuse, but as with many things, there are costs as well that need to be carefully considered. Designing systems that leverage multiple vocabularies managed by various stakeholders is a tricky issue and one that requires careful consideration. There are many reasons why namespaces/vocabularies "drift" over time (“not found” errors being a worse case example) and all of these may have an affect on systems. Business acquisitions, economic factors, organizational changes, changing social interests, etc. are just a handful of reasons for causing such change. Thinking ahead to infrastructure to support the next 40+ years of libraries, namespace persistence is a key point to consider when dealing with how best to integrate and invest in vocabulary terms outside of ones community.

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  7. How is the BIBFRAME Vocabulary and Documentation licensed?

    Public domain/CC0. BIBFRAME material and components issued by the Library of Congress are in the public domain. If one uses text from any of the documents it is customary to make attribution, of course.

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Transition

  1. When should we move to BIBFRAME?

    BIBFRAME is far from an environment that you could move to yet. The model and its components are still in discussion and development -- a work in progress. When it is more mature, vendors and suppliers will need time to adjust services to accommodate it. And then we can expect a mixed environment for some time.

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  2. Are my MARC records convertible into BIBFRAME?

    Yes. Today we have a tool that transforms a current MARC record into BIBFRAME resources. We adjust this tool every few weeks as more aspects of the model are worked on but it gives you several views. In the future, various tools and services will help community members to transform and move their data if they are still in MARC.

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  3. Can I get MARC records from BIBFRAME resources?

    Not at this time. In the future, when records begin to be exchanged in BIBFRAME, there will be utilities that provide transformation to MARC for organizations needing MARC for some or all of their internal systems. Presently, we are focusing on the BIBFRAME model, needed vocabulary, and required exchange mechanisms. Only after those elements have sufficiently stabilized would attention turn to a BIBFRAME-to-MARC transformation.

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  4. How will users/systems/organizations exchange or transfer BIBFRAME resources?

    This is an active area of exploration at this time. The widely used communications protocols will be adapted and new internet-based protocols will be hospitable to bibliographic data.

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  5. BIBFRAME seems to be concentrating on mapping MARC fields—isn't this a new format instead of repackaging an old one?

    The mapping activity is grounded on the premise that the millions of existing MARC records need to be able to be transformed into BIBFRAME resources, but BIBFRAME as a "format" is very different from MARC. This can be seen from the difficulty of the mapping. This can be seen from the difficulty of the mapping. But one factor that brings the data together is the new library cataloging rule set, Resource Description and Access (RDA). MARC has been adapted to carry RDA data, and BIBFRAME is being developed with RDA data as a prominent content type. Both MARC and BIBFRAME also accommodate data recorded by other rules but the cataloging rules give them similarity. The repackaging is not of MARC data but of cataloging content data.

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Early Testing and Feedback Process

  1. Who are the Early Experimenters and what are they contributing to the process?

    The Early Experimenters are a half dozen institutions that agreed to devote substantial resources to experimenting with a model that was lacking in detail—not an easy or inexpensive task. They were chosen to provide some variety in concerns such as the extreme focus on serials and journals that the National Library of Medicine necessarily has. Because they are a small number, we have made reasonably quick decisions, with the expectation that all decisions are subject to feedback (both from and within the EE and the greater community) and iterative redevelopment. However, with "starter" decisions we have been able to proceed to develop some tools that enable the community to experiment. Our expectation is that this experimentation will bring forth more informed discussion of issues and subsequent changes to the details of the model. The current institutions are the British Library, George Washington University, Princeton University, Deutsche National Bibliothek, National Library of Medicine, OCLC, and the Library of Congress.

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  2. 14. How can I get involved in BIBFRAME?

    If you are new to BIBFRAME, start by reading Bibliographic Framework as a Web of Data: Linked Data Model and Supporting Services [PDF, 2.73 MB] for an overview of the scope and intentions of the initiative.

    Read the documents at the Bibliographic Framework Inititiative Web site, join the BIBFRAME listserv, and check out bibframe.org. As ideas are aired on the listserv, give feedback, respond to proposals, and make your requirements known. If you have the facilities, write code and experiment. The transformation code is hosted at GitHub.

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