Re-Model the Model

There’s a scene in the Adventure Time episode Vault of Bones (season 5, episode 12) that really resonated with me. Finn and Flame Princess are exploring an underground dungeon and early on they encounter a locked door. Much later on, they find a key.

The following exchange occurs:


Flame Princess saying "We have to go back"

Flame Princess: We have to go back?


Finn responding, "We don't have to, we *get* to!"

Finn: We don’t have to, we get to!


Now while the episode serves an important lesson for Finn (and the audience) about the importance of listening to your partner about their likes/dislikes and not trying to control every aspect of a shared activity — taken out of that context, this exchange speaks to me in a different way.

Because I get it.

As any scientist will tell you, nothing is more exciting that finding data that doesn’t fit the your expectations or model you’ve been working from. It means that you might have an opportunity to revise the model and may even gain a better understanding of how that which you’re modeling works!

Now I’m no scientist (library science degree notwithstanding), but I like to think that I have some of that science mojo in me, that desire (and belief) that given sufficient experimentation and brains, we can learn anything about anything.

I was working on an indexing project for my final semester at Simmons and about half-way through I thought of something that would radically change the entire project. So I started over from scratch, and literally quoted the above exchange myself. We get to go back, and learn something new, find something cool, and go farther than we could if we didn’t go back.


So what does all this jazz have to do with anything? The Working Group on Aggregates’ discussion paper came out!

This now gives me an opportunity to revisit my conceptual model of how comics fit into the FRBR structure, and revisit I did! It means I get to go back a little bit, but in the end it’s actually going to save me some time.

I’ve decided to use Option C from the working group’s discussion paper, and I’ll briefly explain why:

Option A: a comprehensive description of the Aggregation Work and Expression, and the aggregating Manifestation(s).

What this would mean for a comic is a detailed description of the issue (the aggregating manifestation) but not the stories contained within. That doesn’t work for me, as I specifically want to describe the stories and give access to them.

Option B: an analytical description of one or more of the distinct Works and Expressions, and the aggregating Manifestation(s):

At first blush this seemed pretty good — I could describe the stories with as much detail as I wanted, and then describe the issue in detail. Unfortunately, because this option leaves off the aggregate (the issue) at the work and expression level, I wouldn’t be able to provide access to the editor(s) of an issue which are associated with the expression level. No good.

Option C: A hierarchical description of the Aggregation Work and Expression and the aggregating Manifestation(s), and one or more of the distinct Works and Expressions, incorporated in the aggregating Expression.

At last we’ve arrived! Option C allows me to describe the issues and  the stories at the work and expression levels.

So what’s the difference? How am I revising things and getting to go back?Previously, I was describing individual stories to the manifestation level and then using a contained-in/container-of relationship to the manifestation of the issue. This meant duplicating a lot of content because the publishers, editors, etc. were the same for that manifestation of the story as the manifestation of the issue.

I won’t be doing that anymore! Exciting times. I look forward to revising and rethinking my modeling more as the paper gets discussed and evaluated by CC:DA and friends.

RMC – Conceptual Model

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve begun a comic-book cataloging project.

For this first details post, I want to discussion how I’m applying the conceptual FRBR model to my collection, and some problems I’ve run into doing that. It certainly won’t be the last time that I address FRBR-problems as RIMMF makes the division between WEMI entities razor rigid.

The series (Work) has an Expression (this particular expression is text/still image in English) and a Manifestation (carried in a volume). I don’t create an Item for the series.

Each issue is also a Work (with an In Series relationship to the series), each has an Expression in text/still image in English, each has a Manifestation (published by whichever company, given an identifier on the cover, etc.) and finally each issue has an Item, that single copy which I own.

Here’s where it gets trickier, so hold onto yer butts.

Each story in the issue has a Work (created by whomever), an Expression (again, text/still image in English), and a Manifestation (with a Contained in (Manifestation) relationship to the Manifestation of the issue).

Let me explain why I chose to do it this way. Another option (and thanks to Melanie Polutta for helping me in this conceptual phase) could be:

Each story could be expressed through the Manifestation of the issue. That is, rather than a stand-alone Manifestation of each story and then a Contained in/Container of relationship, that Manifestation of the issue would also serve as the Manifestation of each story.

I chose to not do it this way for a specific reason: It’s not really what FRBR and RDA want.

I read through Fee’s “Where Is the Justice… League?” in which he discusses and models cataloging comic books in a MARC environment. He opts for a formatted contents note (505) to provide individual story-access rather than related entries (7XXs). To my mind, this is similar to the alternate I mention above. It treats the stories as subordinate to the issue.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 12.52.19 PM.png

Not the easiest to read

In an all RDA environment though, where do we put a ‘formatted contents note’ I’ll wait while you run and check, I’ll give you a hint: Chapter 7 is for describing content.

Didja find it? Oh no! Well let’s run over to the MARC-to-RDA Mapping and see what it shows us:

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 12.39.49 PM.png

Do you see it? With the exception of the duration element (and we’re not catting CDs over here…) all of the 505 fields map to related works. RDA has done away with contents being contained in notes, all separately identifiable contents are their own Works and have a relationship to the Work in which they’re contained.


This mostly concludes my modeling analysis for the project, I’ll be revisiting this often because I had to make many decisions about which WEMI level to recorded every element. These were often tough calls, and very subject to interpretation, so I’ll be eager to hear any and all thoughts on the matter



Works Cited

Where Is the Justice… League?: Graphic Novel Cataloging and Classification
William T.B. Fee
Serials Review
Vol. 39, Iss. 1, 2013



RIMMFing My Comics


After ALA and a vigorous RIMMFing session, I’ve become more interested than ever in having a pure RDA editor. It is frustrating to read RDA, study RDA, try to fully grok RDA and then bend and twist all the data into MARC blocks.

RIMMF allows me to practice de-coupling my catalog-brain from MARC and really hone in on the actual RDA elements that we’re supposed to be recording into bibliographic and authority records.

To this end, I wanted to take on a RIMMFing project, and I chose my comic-book collection. My mom (and her brother) were avid comic book fans in their youths and for some reason (and I certainly thank them!) they saved them. As I grew up and came into my own youth, it became my comic-book collection and I devoured them. I spent endless summer Saturdays (no electricity on Shabbat, remember) lying on the floor, lost in the adventures of Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four and my favorite: Spider-Man.

Blah blah blah, flash-forward 25 years, and I still have those darn comics! I don’t read them as often as I used to, but attempting to RIMMF them serves two aims:

  1. It’ll be fun to revisit these old friends
  2. Comics are weird, bibliographically speaking.

They’re essentially serials, and most libraries which hold comics (with a few exceptions) catalog them as such. No individual issue is analyzed, just a record for the series, then a barcode and additional entry in the holdings for each issue.

But that’s not what I’m going to do. I’m going deeper. (And when the RSC finally finishes their work on aggregate works in RDA — I think you’ll find that it’s what is most ideal for the model)

I’m creating a Work record for each story contained in each issue, a Work record for each issue, and a Work record for the series. All of these are accompanied by Expression records and Manifestation records of course and then a single Item record (for the issue in hand)

I’ve done only two issues so far, but I’ve already started bumping up against challenging areas of interpretation where RDA hits the reality. Over the next few posts, I’ll explain some of the problems I’ve run into and how I’ve resolved them. Some are philosophical-model level problems, some are practical.

I will do my utmost best to never mention MARC, we’re talking RDA and FRBR only.

Stay tuned!


A Televised Adaptation of a Screenplay based on a Graphic Novel drawn from a Metrification of a Dream

Edited/Revised: 2015/12/15 — based on helpful feedback from @dnjoudrey (the great teachers never stop teaching!)


I like relationships a lot. No resource we catalog exists in a vacuum, and no person who contributed to it was just born today (not even you, Baby Gramps). So many resources are connected to other resources and most everybody has a relationship to someone else.

I think it’s great that RDA is doing so much to build the links between WEMI-PFC-COPE (a helpful mnemonic for which is We Easily Make It Possible For Cats (to) COPE, by @ajlobster), and so I always enjoy scoping appendices I, J, K, L (when it’s ever DONE), and M to find the perfect relator term to use to state the relationship between work A and work B.

This week I cataloged four DVDs of Salome (there’s a course this spring using them) — all of which were adaptations of the Oscar Wilde play. Easy enough, right?

motion picture adaptation of (work) Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900. Salomé

For three of them, sure — that sufficed. But one of them, Steven Berkoff’s 1992 Salome was performed live on stage, filmed, and then aired on television before being pressed into the DVD I held in my hand.

Things had just gotten more complicated.

While the 1923 silent film, the 1953 Rita Hayworth film, and the 2011 Jessica Chastain film, were all expressions of a motion picture (new work) adaptation of Wilde’s work — this fourth was less obvious to me.

In my head, I was imagining several steps:

  1. Wilde’s Play (a work)
  2. Adapted for the stage by Steven Berkoff
  3. Filmed for television

Checking the RDA-Toolkit, I found:

dramatization of (work) A work that has been adapted as a drama.

But then, I started overthinking it. (Or have I already been overthinking it?) Is a play being performed as a play really a dramatization of the play? Or was it always a drama, and thus isn’t being dramatized. That is, has it been adapted as a drama, or was it always one, and thus can’t be adapted as one.

Jumping up on level of the hierarchy, I found this:

adaptation of (work) A work that has been modified for a purpose, use, or medium other than that for which it was originally intended. Applies to changes in form or to works completely rewritten in the same form.

Ah! So it can apply to works in the same form, but they’d have to be completely rewritten. This film was not a major rewrite, I couldn’t find a credit to a writer — just director and other production info.

But then, more overthinking (YES, EVEN MORE)

What if the authority record for Oscar Wilde’s Salome doesn’t refer to the play but it refers to the text. That is, maybe it’s a change of form from “text” to “drama”. I don’t know, because the authority record doesn’t have a 380 (where that’d be recorded).

I checked out the authority record for a popular play, Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Hamlet — and that one has a bunch of very useful 380s indicating that it is specifically a play/drama. Extrapolating to assume that the record for Salome is intended to be the play, I concluded that I couldn’t use “dramatization of (work)” for this resource to refer to its transformation.

Having decided that, I ended up with:

television adaptation of (work) Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900. Salomé

So what say y’all? Is there any good relator term to use to describe the relationship between a play and a new staging/production of that play?

staging of (work)

production of (work)

are some obvious possibilities that I propose.

But maybe this term isn’t needed, I see two reasons why it may not be:

  1. A staging or production of a drama may not be enough of a substantive change to truly justify it as a new work, maybe a staging is just n expression of the same work. My gut tells me (and I’d love to hear from theater people who know more on the subject) that there are many stagings which are absolutely transformative and would require the creation of a new work and an attendant relator term.
  2.  Because so much of the description of a resource waits until it’s been manifested, when that happens (e.g. pressed into a DVD) it can be described as a television or motion picture adaptation?