What exactly is an item in the digital world?

Ingbert R. Floyd, Allen H. Renear

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


IFLA's Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) is a model of the bibliographic universe. Although initially its application to the digital world appears to be straightforward, upon closer examination puzzles arise. One is that within the digital world it is surprisingly difficult to say exactly what FRBR items really are. On the one hand, the ontological candidates for items (concrete physical states of the computing system) are rarely identified and treated as items in practice - even though they may indeed be affirmed as items in theoretical discussions. On the other hand, objects that manifestly fail to meet the basic ontological criteria for FRBR items are commonly treated as if they are items. We describe this situation and, based on a re-factoring of FRBR into a set of roles (relationships) rather than a set of entity types, explore two possible resolutions. One, favored by the second author, is consistent with the ontology implicit in the original FRBR vision, but allows assignment of item attributes and roles to things that are not items; the other, favored by the first author, is a radical departure from the underlying FRBR ontology, but preserves the original attribute assignments and roles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationASIST 2007 Proceedings of the 70th ASIS and T Annual Meeting - Joining Research and Practice
Subtitle of host publicationSocial Computing and Information Science
PublisherAmerican Society for Information Science and Technology
ISBN (Print)0877155399, 9780877155393
StatePublished - 2007
Event3rd Electronic edition of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology - Milwaukee, WI, United States
Duration: Oct 19 2007Oct 24 2007


Other3rd Electronic edition of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityMilwaukee, WI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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