22:3 (2007:09) 22nd Conference (2007): Tactics Session: Successive Entry, Latest Entry, or None of the Above?

September 4, 2007 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment


Successive Entry, Latest Entry, or None of the Above?
How the MARC 21 Format, the Concept of a Work and FRBR Revitalize Serials Management
Katherine Adams and Britta Santamauro, both from Yale University
Reported by Sarah Gardner

Katherine Adams and Britta Santamauro from Yale University presented a theoretical model for managing serials cataloging and display using FRBR, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records, concepts and the MARC 21 format. They began the session examining the “cataloger’s dilemma” of how to create the best record structure for something as fluid as a serial. They proposed FRBR-izing the “front-end” (interface, often the library’s website) and the “back-end” (catalog/database design) of the catalog. The presenters hold the assumption that patrons still browse library catalogs, and there is value in exposing the full run of a serial, even if it is difficult to display.

The speakers explained the basics of FRBR: a “work” is a concept or an idea, an “expression” is the version (translation, edition) of a work, a “manifestation” is the publication/format of an expression, and an “item” is the physical item of the manifestation.  For their example, they selected the Atlantic Monthly, a problematic title with several title changes and different physical formats available.

The record was broken into three different record levels: a “superworkspression” as the umbrella record, manifestation records for each specific format, and item records to show local holdings for each format. In this model, the superworkspression links different media together and identifies family trees and relationships.  Editions with substantially different content would get their own superworkspression record. The superworkspression and manifestation records would be maintained nationally through cooperative cataloging on OCLC; only the item records would need to be maintained locally. The presenters theorized that this model would solve about 80% of cataloging problems.

Most MARC fields and authority data would be captured at the superworkspression level, including all title changes and subject work. The benefit would be that staff would only have to catalog a title once. At the manifestation level, most MARC fields would be limited to numerical identifiers such as ISSN and OCLC numbers, and notes on the physical format. The benefit is  brevity, since these records would inherit attributes from the level above. The item record would contain data in MARC Holdings format for location and coverage. The benefit is that they would be easier to maintain.

The overall thrust of this model is to make access and identification more important than description. This model ties into larger trends that are redefining cataloging ideas, in which stability is not as important.  The emphasis is less about absolute mastery, but rather working with what you have, namely, “bricolage.”  This model, while not perfect, builds on existing strengths in the FRBR model and the MARC format. The presenters theorized that the result would mean more intensive, sophisticated cataloging of fewer records, as title changes would be collapsed onto one umbrella record.


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