In the FRBR vision that RDA has embraced, there is something called the "relational/object-oriented model." I have some basic problems with this because I perceive relational and object-oriented designs to be quite distinct. This concept of relational/object-oriented gives me one of those "blank brain" moments -- when something sounds like it should make sense but I just can't make sense out of it. So I'm going to treat it as a set of relationships within a bibliographic record.
In the FRBR/RDA model there are entities: Work, Expression, Manifestation, Item (WEMI), and Person, Corporate body, Concept, Object, Event, Place. The interesting thing about these is that none of them is intended to stand alone. This is a very inter-dependent group of entities, not a set of separate records. This is hard for us to imagine because today's model is indeed of separate records for bibliographic data and authority data (covering names and subjects). However, our view is colored by the fact that the bibliographic record carries headings from the authority records, an therefore is complete in itself. Authority records, if you think about them, even those for names, are of the nature of a controlled vocabulary. The view of these vocabularies as contributing to the bibliographic description means that we have to have a way to express both the entities themselves and the links between them.
In addition, we have to decide what one defines as a record. If, to describe a work, one must also describe the creator, then it does seem that the Work entity and Person (or Corporate) entity must be part of the same record. Otherwise, the record cannot stand alone. So what does it mean to include the Person entity, and where does that entity reside? Or is an unresolved link to a (presumed) entity sufficient to complete the bibliographic record? In other words, if the bibliographic record has, as part of the work, a link to a Person entity that resides elsewhere, is that bibliographic record complete?
Note: I read back through FRBR and FRANAR regarding the Person entity. FRBR includes only the "name heading" in its Person entity, while the FRANAR Person entity has many more elements. This parallels today's difference between the personal name field and the name authority record.There are other kinds of relationships that are between bibliographic entities. To my mind there are two types of relationships here: dependent and independent. The dependent relationships are between the WEMI entities, none of which is considered complete in itself. In fact, I consider the WEMI to be a single entity with dependent parts. (Admittedly, this is how current library cataloging views it, with a single flat record that contains information on all of these bibliographic levels which exist simultaneously in a single object.) To me, these are indivisible -- you can't have any one of them without the others.
[Note that I consider the WEMI to be a single entity in terms of library cataloging records. The levels of this entity do have meaning on their own. For example, a literary critic will often refer to the Work, perhaps to the Expression. A publisher or bookstore advertises the Manifestation. A library identifies and circulates the Item, and a rare book seller deals almost exclusively in Items.]
The independent relationships are those between different bibliographic entities -
- Work-Work, two works that reflect or reference each other (cited, cites; works based on other works, like parodies or sequels)
- Whole-Part, works in which one can be contained in the other (article and journal, chapter and book, volume and series)
- Item-Item, reproductions of all types
So these are a few of the questions I have. Hopefully some of them can be cleared up quickly. I'm interested in hearing how others think about these issues. For those attending DC2008, if this interests you I'm game for some discussion.