Representative Expressions in Bibliographic Collections
Peter Organisciak, Assistant Professor
Research Methods and Information Science, University of Denver
- traditional approach in providing bibliographic information in cataloging was to collocate multiple expressions and in this framework all expressions are equal; but in the digital environment, end users are presented with an overwhelming amount of expressions and must choose for themselves the best expression for their purposes
Representative Expressions in LRM
- FRBR and its related standards have been recently consolidated into the IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM) (Riva, Le Boeuf, & Žumer, 2017)
- LRM maintains the FRBR entities and refines them further by defining attributes and relationships. In addition, LRM introduces a new attribute of a work – representative expression. The LRM framework states that end-users perceive works as having certain inherent qualities, and in order for an expression to best represent a work, it must include those qualities (LRM, p. 91).
- Users may choose expressions based upon how closely an expression demonstrates the qualities defined as essential to a certain work and thus how representative an expression is.
- An acknowledgment in LRM is that there are grades of canonicity, rather than a single correct expression. They suggest a 'distance' between canonical and other expressions, where the universe of a work is realized through clusters of related expressions.
According to IFLA LRM (2017, p.91), representative expressions refer to “the perceived distance between a given expression and the image of the ideal expression.”
- Aligning with LRM's revival of the discussion of representativeness is a practical prompt that makes the topic more pressing: the emergence of large-scale digital libraries.
- The biggest bibliographic DLs - Google Books, Internet Archive, HathiTrust Digital Library - have grow through multi-institutions scanning projects
- By virtue of this manner of creation, they hold a great deal of duplication and repetition
Different Approaches to Representativeness
- What did the author consider their cononical expression?
- What about works that change authors, like text books?
- Did Greedo shoot first?
- Does the first edition of Frankenstein capture the subversive ‘franken-essence’ better than the more common second one?
Revisions and Editions
- Whose edits? e.g. The neverending edits of Robinson Crusoe
- Expectation of abridgments as less representative
How do we instrumentalize representativeness?
- Metadata Approaches
- Content Approaches
- Subjective or Expert Opinion
Continuing the discussion
- Discussion of a 'best' expression of a work should consider, 'for whom'?
- Codifying 'representativeness' requires ways to convey disagreement
- The discussion of 'representativeness' expands beyond expression-level decisions