Repositioning the Base Level of Bibliographic Relationships: or, A Cataloguer, a Post-Modernist and a Chatbot Walk Into a Bar


  • D. Grant Campbell University of Western Ontario
  • Alex Mayhew University of Western Ontario



Designers and maintainers of library catalogues are facing fresh challenges representing bibliographic relationships, due both to changes in cataloguing standards and to a broader information environment that has grown increasingly diverse, sophisticated and complex. This paper presents three different paradigms, drawn from three different fields of study, for representing relationships between bibliographic entities beyond the FRBR/LRM models: superworks, as developed in information studies; adaptation, as developed in literary studies; and artificial intelligence, as developed in computer science. Theories of literary adaptation remain focused on “the work,” as traditionally conceived. The concept of the superwork reminds us that there are some works which serve as ancestors for entire families of works, and that those familial relationships are still useful. Crowd-sourcing projects often make more granular connections, a trend which has escalated significantly with current and emerging artificial intelligence systems. While the artificial intelligence paradigm is proving more pervasive outside conventional library systems, it could lead to a seismic shift in knowledge organization, a shift in which the power both to arrange information and to use it are moving beyond the control of users and intermediaries alike.