To Map or Not to Map: Rethinking Crosswalk Agendas

Jacob Jett, David Dubin, Bobby Bothmann


In the two decades since their publication, the Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records and succeeding standards such as the Library Reference Model have had a marked impact on discourse concerning descriptive theory and practice. The BIBFRAME model, which began as an effort to replace MARC as a linked data-capable modeling format, offers an alternate view of the bibliographic universe with three principal entities rather than four. Differences between BIBFRAME and LRM are based in competing intuitions on the nature of creative works, and at first the two approaches appear to compete for the same intellectual space. BIBFRAME offers us a less constrained model of bibliographic descriptions than the FRBR models, and if interoperability between BIBFRAME and WEMI-aligned standards like Resource Description and Access requires translation of RDA records both to and from BIBFRAME descriptions, then the latter’s flexibility poses problems for mapping between the models. Proposed solutions to those problems reveal as much about different modeling philosophies as they do about different views of creative works and their relationships to texts and copies. Linked data protocols are intended to support resources and scenarios that are far too diverse for either a single account of creative works or for a subsumption-based taxonomy of models. But a need for descriptions flexible enough to include them all does not require us to retreat from modeling commitments to either reductionism or operationalism. BIBFRAME can be seen as reaching for or pointing toward a descriptive domain that supports a complementary role to the IFLA standards.

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