Frbr an entity relation model for the digital libraries
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FRBR an entity-relation model for the Digital LIbraries. Digital Libraries –SS 07- Prof. Manfred Thaller. Andrea Sardo. FRBR: Historical pills. FRBR is the acronym of F unctional Requirements for Bibliographic Record

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Frbr an entity relation model for the digital libraries
FRBRan entity-relation model for the Digital LIbraries

Digital Libraries–SS 07- Prof. Manfred Thaller

Andrea Sardo

Frbr historical pills
FRBR: Historical pills

  • FRBR is the acronym ofFunctional Requirements for Bibliographic Record

  • It represents the syntex and the final result of a project developed by the Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), consisting of an attempt to re-examinate the way to cataloguate the records in the context of the digital libraries

  • This project began with the international conference of 1961, that set the „Paris Principles“, and went on in Copenhagen in 1969 with the adoption of a resolution to establish international standards for the form and content of bibliographic description. After a long work, in 1997 the results of a study group were approved and the standard adopted

The frbr study group
The FRBR study group

  • The FRBR study group was etablished in 1990 at the Stockholm Seminar on bibliographic records , where the IFLA promoted the constitution of a research with the aim to define the functions held by the bibliographical record in the different medias, and according to the user‘s needs.

  • The innovation of the FRBR‘s approach consist of the attempt to create a model to identify the most important features of a text, in order to define a standard way to cataloguate, and at the same time to make the search easier for the user

The frbr study group1
The FRBR study group

  • So, let‘s see what happens, if someone tries to give some formal rules to the procedures of bibliographical record.

  • That is in fact the purpose of the FRBR study: to improve the effectiveness of retrieval and access in online library catalogues and bibliographic databases from a user’s perspective ,through a more systematic entity-relation model.

  • An entity-relation model provides a clear representation of the structure of the data, through diagrams or schematic design.

The entity relation model
The entity-relation model

  • The entity-relation methodology relate to the information science as instrument of analysis, to represent some portions of reality in a database. Its components are:

    1) the entities, the things that are meant to be represented;

  • 2) the attributes, meant to describe the entities and their features

  • 3) the relations, or associations among entities

User s tasks what must the user be able to do
User‘s taskswhat must the user be able to do

  • According to this model, there are four requirements, related to the tasks performed by users when searching and making use of national bibliographies and library catalogues:

  • using the data to find materials that correspond to the user’s stated search criteria (e.g., in the context of a search for all documents on a given subject);

  • using the data retrieved to identifyan entity (e.g., to distinguish between two texts or recordings that have the same title);

  • using the data to selectan entity that is appropriate to the user’s needs (e.g., to select a text in a language the user understands, or to choose a version of a computer program that is compatible with the hardware and operating system available to the user);

  • using the data in order to acquire or obtainaccess to the entity described (e.g.,to submit a request for the loan of a copy of a book in a library’s collection, or to access online an electronic document stored on a remote computer).

    ( A fifth, unofficial, task is to navigate or relate ).

Entities definition of the key contents
EntitiesDefinition of the key-contents

  • The entities that have been defined for this study represent the key objects of interest to users of bibliographic data. The entities have been divided into three groups.

  • The first group comprises the products of intellectual or artistic endeavour that are named or described in bibliographic records: work, expression, manifestation, and item.

  • The second group comprises those entities responsible for the intellectual or artistic content, the physical production and dissemination, or the custodianship of such products: person and corporate body.

  • The third group comprises an additional set of entities that serve as the subjects of intellectual or artistic endeavour: concept, object, event, and place.

Group 1 entities work expression manifestation item
Group 1 Entities: Work, Expression, Manifestation, Item

  • The entities defined as work (a distinct intellectual or artistic creation) and expression (the intellectual or artistic realization of a work) reflect intellectual or artistic content. The entities defined as manifestation (the physical embodiment of an expression of a work) and item (a single exemplar of a manifestation), on the other hand, reflect physical form.

Group 2 entities person corporate body
Group 2 Entities: Person, Corporate Body

  • The entities in the second group include person (an individual) and corporate body (an organization or group of individuals and/or organizations).

  • The diagram shows the type of “responsibility” relationships that exist between entities in the second group and the entities in the first group.

Group 3 entities concept object event place
Group 3 Entities: Concept, Object, Event, Place

  • The entities in the third group represent an additional set of entities that serve as the subjects of works. The group includes concept (an abstract notion or idea), object (a material thing), event (an action), and place (a location).

  • The diagram indicates that a work may have as its subject one or more than one concept, object, event, and/or place. Conversely, a concept, object, event, and/or place may be the subject of one or more than one work.

  • The diagram also shows the “subject” relationships between work and the entities in the first and second groups. The diagram indicates that a work may have as its subject one or more than one work, expression, manifestation, item, person, and/or corporate body.


  • Each of the entities defined in the model has associated with it a set of characteristics or attributes. They are useful for the users, because they are means to consider when seeking information about a particular entity.

  • Attributes are of two categories. There are, on the one hand, attributes that are inherent in an entity, and on the other, those that are externally imputed.

  • The first category includes not only physical characteristics (e.g., the physical medium and dimensions of an object) but also features that might be characterized as labeling information (e.g., statements appearing on the title page, cover, or container).

  • The second category includes assigned identifiers for an entity (e.g., a thematic catalogue number for a musical composition), and contextual information (e.g., the political context in which a work was conceived).


  • In the context of the model, relationships are meant as the vehicle for showing the link between one entity and another, proposing a sort of navigation in the universe that is represented in a bibliography, catalogue, or bibliographic database.

  • Typically the user will formulate a search query using one or more attributes of the entity for which he is searching, and it is through the attribute that the user finds that entity. The relationships reflected in the bibliographic record provide additionalinformation that assists the user in making connections between the entity found and other entities that are related to that entity. Not so strange to notice, this is the basic idea of the semantic web too.

  • „(…)web content can be expressed in a form that can be understood, interpreted and used by softwares, permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily“. This is Berners-Lee‘s vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information and knowledge exchange. A huge mass of information, completely linked in a qualitative way. Just like a well-recorded digital library…


  • Certainly the biggest result of such a study, is the exploration and the definition of a standard classification for the materials, that can also:

  • support the mass digitization

  • lighten the always harder management of the informatic archives

  • help with the data retrieval

  • On the other hand, the proposed model needs, for its realization, an extremely accurate work on the metadata of every single piece, and this means much in terms of time and costs.

The end
The end

Thank you for your attention