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Rochkind On FRBR's WEMI (Work-Expression-Manifestation-Item)

Great post from Jonathon Rochkind on the Bibliographic Wilderness blog. In Notes FRBR WEMI entities, physicality, interchangeability, merging he nicely distills some of the discussion that has been swirling around the discussion lists concerning the WEMI structure in FRBR. He makes a number of useful points that helps clairfy, at least to me, these elements of the FRBR model.

Here are a few examples:

Please keep in mind that of the Work, Entity, Manifestation, Item entity model, it’s really only Item that is an actual physical thing. All the others are abstract things, that I continue to believe are most easily thought of as sets of the things ‘below’ them.”

But if you start thinking that an item in your hand can ‘be’ a Work or Expression without ‘being’ a Manifestation (and item!) too, you are setting yourself up for a lot of confusion. You can’t have a Work or Expression (or, technically Manifestation), without having all the things below it, up to Item.”

As soon as you have something in your hands (a script, a daily DVD), you’ve got an Item. Which belongs to a Manifestation set, which belongs to an Expression set, which belongs to a Work Set.”

He also summarizes an exchange between himself and Karen Coyle regarding what Coyle identifies as the possibility of creating “incompatible data”. Rochkind doesn’t see this as an issue and maintains that it really comes down to the level of authority work that cataloguers are prepared to do. And really this is no different a situation than what happens today in the various cataloguing shops. Some may not “spend any time on that ‘analytical’ task at all” and therefore the relationships between things may or may not be adequately “fleshed out”. Rochkind concludes that this does not create incompatibilities but rather different levels of relationship “assertion”.

Well worth reading the whole post and the commentary that follows between Rochkind and Coyle.

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