Subject Analysis Committee
Task Force on Named Buildings

FRBR and buildings

In its response to ARLIS/NA CAC, CPSO states that "buildings are considered in the context of ... FRBR as objects (the term for the object is the word, phrase, or group of characters used to name or designate the object (e.g. a building, a ship, etc.) (p. 54) as opposed to corporate bodies. FRBR is becoming the conceptual basis for cataloging and is relevant to justifying any action to be taken."

Section 3 of FRBR describes the various entities in groups. Entities in Group 1 "represent the different aspects of user interests in the products of intellectual or artistic endeavour" -- work, expression, manifestation, item. Entities in Group 2 "represent those responsible for the intellectual or artistic content" -- person, corporate body. Entities in Group 3 "represent an additional set of entities that serve as the subjects of works" -- concept, object, event, place. (p. 12-16)

Object is further described as "encompass[ing] a comprehensive range of material things that may be the subject of a work: animate and inanimate objects occurring in nature; fixed, movable, and moving objects that are the product of human creation; objects that no longer exist. ... For the purposes of [FRBR] ... objects are treated as entities only to the extent that they are the subject of a work (e.g., as the subject of a scientific study, etc.). Defining the entity object enables us to name and identify the object in a consistent manner, independently of the presence, absence, or form of the name for that object that appears on or in any particular expression or manifestation of a work. Defining object as an entity also enables us to draw a relationship between a work and the object that is the subject of the work." (p. 26)

Event is "defined in the model [as] ... an action or occurrence." (p. 27) This excludes such events as meetings, conferences, congresses, expeditions, exhibitions, festivals and fairs which are considered corporate bodies (p. 24).

After enumerating the entities, FRBR goes on to describe the attributes of the entities.

CPSO's quotation comes from the section on the attributes of an object. "The term for the object is the word, phrase, or group of characters used to name or designate the object (e.g., a building, a ship, etc.). An object may be designated by more than one term, or by more than one form of the term. A bibliographic agency normally selects one of those terms as the uniform heading for purposes of consistency in naming and referencing the object. The other terms or forms of term may be treated as variant terms for the object." (p. 54)

Thus, in FRBR, there seems to be no opportunity for authorship by an object. AACR has always covered certain objects as authors, with ships being perhaps the most obvious. Churches may straddle the line between corporate bodies and objects, as may some of the other "institutions" in the bilateral split of buildings described by Lynn El-Hoshy during our task force meeting in San Diego.

FRBR does use the concept of naming for objects though this presumably includes generic words as well as specific named objects. Concept includes such abstractions as fields of knowledge, disciplines, schools of thought, theories, processes, techniques, and practices (p. 25) which presumably leaves rocks, trees, Lassie, Mickey Mouse, the Egyptian pyramids, Woburn Abbey, Holkham Hall, Kykuit and the Adams houses as objects.

FRBR does not address how a bibliographic agency should select the term that it will use for consistency in naming and referencing the object, concept or event, to say nothing of how it will control personal and corporate names. Nonetheless, it is clear that objects, concepts, events and places are not in the same group of entities as persons and corporate bodies.

The separation of controlled names and terms into a Name Authority File and a Subject Authority File is artificial. Most library systems combine the headings for entities in all FRBR groups into one authority file. This does not mean that a bibliographic agency has to follow the same procedures for selecting the term(s) that provide consistency.

Places and jurisdictions may represent a parallel to buildings. The Group 1 entity corporate body "encompasses organizations that act as territorial authorities, exercising or claiming to exercise government functions over a certain territory, such as a federation, a state, a region, a local municipality, etc." (p. 24) The Group 3 entity place "encompasses a comprehensive range of locations: terrestrial and extra-terrestrial; historical and contemporary; geographic features and geo-political jurisdictions." (p. 27) In theory, the former would normally be established in the NAF/SAF world in NAF and the latter would normally be established in SAF. Chapter 23 of AACR2 does not divide geographic names according to FRBR or FRBR-like entities though generally those geographic names that are jurisdictions are in NAF. AACR2 24.3E1 does state that "the conventional name of a government is the geographic name ... of the area ... over which the government exercises jurisdiction."

It does not seem to me that FRBR alone can be used to justify placement of records for any particular type of entity into a particular authority file or authority workflow. It is however the case that AACR does allow entry under certain entities which FRBR calls objects. This may be mostly for the sake of expediency and is shown through examples such as ships, local churches, and hotels. Our list discussion of collections and manuscripts certainly shows that catalogers have found it expedient to use some buildings as corporate bodies since the works, expressions, manifestations and items housed therein do not belong to a more easily delineated corporate body.

Sherman Clarke

2 February 2004