Volume 52, no. 8, 2014

ISBD: The Bibliographic Content Standard

Mirna Willer, John Hostage, and Lynne C. Howarth

Guest Editors

Introduction, John Hostage

Original Articles

The Origins and Making of the ISBD: A Personal History, 1966-1978
Michael Gorman

ABSTRACT: What follows are my memories of the events, starting almost five decades ago, that led to the International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD)—still the most successful and widely used international cataloging standard in history. Many of the documents of the time were little more than ephemera (working papers and the like) and some are not now available to me. I have checked my recollections in all the documents to which I have access and apologize in advance for any errors of time or place. I also apologize for the, alas, unavoidable, given the nature of the essay, many repetitions of the words "I" and "me."

KEYWORDS: International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD), descriptive cataloging, International Conference on Cataloguing Principles, 1961, International Conference of Cataloguing Experts, MARC 21

Consolidated Edition of ISBD, International Standard Bibliographic Description: A Standard to Trust, a Quality Brand
Elena Escolano Rodríguez

ABSTRACT: The article deals with the most important characteristics of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) standard, International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD) Consolidated edition, and some important points of view that have influenced those characteristics, which are: to maintain user trust and the loyalty of customers; to help international identification of resources in accordance with its purpose; to provide the consistency and interoperability of information and to facilitate its reuse; to promote relationships with other standards (content and technological standards), and to introduce the new content stipulations necessary to adapt it to current technologies. The purpose of the article is to make the standard better known and to show the need for its maintenance from a marketing point of view applied to analyze the standard.

KEYWORDS: consistency of information, information interoperability, International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD), quality of information, resource description, Semantic Web, user trust

The Role of ISBD in the Linked Data Environment
Gordon Dunsire

ABSTRACT: The article discusses the use of International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD) in linked data application profiles and mappings to other bibliographic element sets including UNIMARC (UNIversal MARC), MARC 21, and Resource Description and Access (RDA), establishing ISBD's support for hierarchical relationships between fine-grained properties for resource attributes and coarser-grained aggregations for end-user displays of data triples, and interoperability of metadata derived from different schema. Separation of ISBD punctuation from element properties allows its use in text-based displays while accommodating innovative ways of presenting record-level sets of linked data. The article concludes with a discussion of the issues facing ISBD in maintaining a role in the future library linked data environment.

KEYWORDS: ISBD, linked data, interoperability, data aggregation, granularity

ISBD Resource and Its Description in the Context of the Semantic Web
Carlo Bianchini & Mirna Willer

ABSTRACT: This article explores the question "What is an International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD) resource in the context of the Semantic Web, and what is the relationship of its description to the linked data?" This question is discussed against the background of the dichotomy between the description and access using the Semantic Web differentiation of the three logical layers: real-world objects, web of data, and special purpose (bibliographic) data. The representation of bibliographic data as linked data is discussed, distinguishing the description of a resource from the iconic/objective and the informational/subjective viewpoints. In the conclusion, the authors give views on possible directions of future development of the ISBD.

KEYWORDS: ISBD resource, FRBR WEMI, semantic mapping, web of data, linked data, representation

ISBD, the UNIMARC Bibliographic Format, and RDA: Interoperability Issues in Namespaces and the Linked Data Environment
Mirna Willer & Gordon Dunsire

ABSTRACT: The article is an updated and expanded version of a paper presented to International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions in 2013. It describes recent work involving the representation of International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD) and UNIMARC (UNIversal MARC) in Resource Description Framework (RDF), the basis of the Semantic Web and linked data. The UNIMARC Bibliographic format is used to illustrate issues arising from the development of a bibliographic element set and its semantic alignment with ISBD. The article discusses the use of such alignments in the automated processing of linked data for interoperability, using examples from ISBD, UNIMARC, and Resource Description and Access.

KEYWORDS: ISBD, UNIMARC, RDA, linked data, interoperability, mappings

ISBD in China: The Road to Internationalization
Ben Gu

ABSTRACT: The article discusses the historical background, present status, and future perspectives of International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD) translations, research, and applications in China. It also analyzes the relationship between ISBD and Chinese Library Cataloging Rules and the internationalization process of Chinese library cataloging practices.

KEYWORDS: bibliographic standards, cataloging rules, ISBD, China

ISBD and REICAT: A Relationship between Past, Present, and Future
Simone Forassiepi

ABSTRACT: Libraries are faced with an epochal transformation: the emergence of a new structure of the web, the Semantic Web. The data structure will change completely in the next few years, leading to profound changes in information organization and retrieval. In this article I compare International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD) and Regole italiane di catalogazione (REICAT), the new Italian cataloging rules, to see when confronted with this phenomenon, how ready they are to structure bibliographic data in new ways to support information retrieval.

KEYWORDS: descriptive cataloging, cataloging, International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD), information retrieval, library catalogs, OPACs

ISBD and Mechanical Musical Devices: A Case Study of the Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage, University of Pavia, Italy
Carlo Bianchini & Pietro Zappalà

ABSTRACT: The collection of nearly 1,000 piano rolls housed within the Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage, University of Pavia, Cremona, Italy, remains in need of preservation. A digitalization project requires cataloging based on international cataloging standards. A distinction among instruments and media must be introduced and specific features of mechanical musical devices are to be identified. Four main classes of media have been identified: disks, pinned barrels, books, and rolls. Lastly, morphological peculiarities of the media must be examined to establish their correct and complete description within the International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD) areas.

KEYWORDS: mechanical musical instruments, cataloging, piano rolls, pinned barrels, disks, musicological study, ISBD

The Logical Order of Different Categories of Responsibility for the Description of Moving Images in the ISBD Consolidated Edition
Vikica Semenski

ABSTRACT: Numerous individuals and corporate bodies are involved in the creation of an audiovisual work, and the transcription of the statements of responsibility represents a complex task for cataloging. The International Standard for Bibliographic Description (ISBD) Consolidated edition does not define a logical order of different categories of responsibility for moving images. Determining the logical order, as it is defined for sound recordings, would facilitate cataloging processes and assist the catalog users to identify and select an entity. The article discusses the order of responsibility for moving images that is based on cataloging rules and practice, based on the analysis of credits of 100 films, and proposes the logical order of transcribing statements of responsibility as more suitable for the users of the catalog.

KEYWORDS: ISBD, logical order of statements of responsibility, moving images, title frames, categories of responsibility, authorship

ISBD as Bibliographic Content Standard: Interweaving Threads, Contemplating a Future ISBD as Bibliographic Content Standard: Interweaving Threads, Contemplating a Future
Lynne C. Howarth

ABSTRACT: This summary considers the final articles selected for the special issue, interweaving some common threads that bind them together in their consideration of the International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD), consolidated edition, 2011, as a bibliographic content standard. With discussions of (1) the historical and current evolution of the ISBD, (2) the concept of Universal Bibliographic Control relative to an emerging Semantic Web environment, (3) ISBD and national cataloging codes, and (4) the continuing challenges of "non-book" resources, as context, the article concludes by exploring the question, "Is there a future for the ISBD?"

KEYWORDS: International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD), future of ISBD, bibliographic content standards, Universal Bibliographic Control, metadata interoperability, linked open data

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Harvard Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

After more than forty years, the International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD) has reached a turning point. As a product of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) it achieved success as an international standard for catalog records based on the traditions of the card catalog. Its basic ideas of a standard order of elements and prescribed punctuation were absorbed by major cataloging codes in various countries. In this way, the ISBD served as a building block in IFLA's program of Universal Bibliographic Control by simplifying and standardizing the production and exchange of bibliographic records, regardless of the country or language. Along the way, the ISBD was expanded with specialized standards for other kinds of library materials beyond the monographic printed texts that had always been the foundation of library collections. As the years passed it was realized that the ISBDs needed to be revised and updated from time to time in order to keep up with changes in the nature of library materials and developments in cataloging practice. An ISBD Review Group was formed within IFLA and undertook a program of regular review of the ISBDs. Early in the new century it became clear that the workload of revising so many texts was onerous and that the different texts were diverging from one another. It was decided to attempt to consolidate the various ISBDs into one text and to harmonize the stipulations that differed when possible. A preliminary consolidated edition of the ISBD was published by IFLA in 2007, and the consolidated edition was published in 2011.

This issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly takes stock of the ISBD at this point in its history, which, at the same time, already indicates the direction of its future development. This direction is seen as part of the two closely-related activities within IFLA's ISBD Review Group, the body responsible for its development: the alignment of the ISBD and FRBR models and the representation of ISBD in the Semantic Web standard Resource Description Framework (RDF). Both of these activities are in line with the fourth aim defined in the ISBD consolidated edition to "enhance the portability of bibliographic data in the Semantic Web environment and the interoperability of the ISBD with other content standards."1

The first article is a look at the origins of the ISBD by one who was there at the beginning, Michael Gorman. He reminds us what a remarkable development this was at the time. Next, Elena Escolano Rodríguez, who was chair of the ISBD Review Group, brings the history up to date through the process of consolidation.

Gordon Dunsire takes us beyond the traditional realm of cataloging standards and examines the role of the ISBD in the world of linked data. Carlo Bianchini and Mirna Willer, the current chair of the ISBD Review Group, also consider the ISBD in the Semantic Web, with a specific focus on the resource to be cataloged.

Dunsire and Willer join forces for an in-depth examination of the practical issues in mapping between the ISBD and the UNIMARC format in the linked data environment.

The next two articles look at the impact of the ISBD on certain national cataloging practices. Ben Gu describes the process of aligning cataloging rules in China with international standards, and Simone Forassiepi takes a critical look at REICAT, the new Italian cataloging code that was introduced as work on the consolidation of the ISBD was progressing.

The final two articles in this issue are concerned with the implementation and use of the ISBD for special types of resources. Carlo Bianchini and Pietro Zappalà describe the application of the ISBD to a unique collection of piano rolls, while Vikica Semenski analyzes cataloging codes as well as copyright law in search of a logical order of statements of responsibility in descriptions of motion pictures and other moving image resources. Lynne C. Howarth wraps up the issue with a synthesis of the topics that have been covered.

We hope that this issue will provide some insight into the latest developments in the bibliographic world reflected in the consolidated edition of this international bibliographic standard, and invite further research on its use and development.


1. ISBD: International Standard Bibliographic Description / recommended by the ISBD Review Group; approved by the Standing Committee of the IFLA Cataloguing Section. Consolidated ed. Berlin: De Gruyter Saur, 2011, A.1.2, http://www.ifla.org.laneproxy.stanford.edu/files/assets/cataloguing/isbd/isbd-cons_20110321.pdf

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