The idea of FRBR ...

Not having a copy of The Idea of a university to hand, I was looking in Google Book Search and Amazon earlier. Newman is in the news (here is the Wall Street Journal), and I was curious to have a quick look. Sad to say, I even did a search for library to see what he had to say on that topic.

Here is what I saw in Amazon when I did the search ...

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I was interested to see that they think the difference between editions is important enough to highlight. See the 'Just so you know' banner at the top of the page. It tells me that the text I am about to search is an instance of a different edition than the one I was originally looking at and clicked on.

Managing this type of similarity (bringing together different versions of The Idea of a university) and difference (discriminating between those different versions) is something that is becoming of more interest in our systems and services. And of course it is these types of relationship that underly a central part of the FRBR model.

I have become more aware that FRBR is sometimes presented as if it is some great mystery whereas what it is about is defining some useful relationships between the things that are of interest to us, so that we can usefully manage and present them.

Incidentally, it is interesting to see how Universities and Higher Education figure strongly in the FAST cloud on Newman's Worldcat Identities page ....

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Comments: 1

Sep 24, 2010
Jonathan Bengtson

Hi Lorcan,

A far more powerful research tool for Newman has been developed that includes all the variant editions of Newman's works published during his lifetime. The project may soon extend to archival material as well.

The "Newman Kiosk" uses advanced linguistic analysis tools developed by a firm called Crivella West, which normally uses the software for data analysis in large class action lawsuits (we are talking 500 million+ documents in some cases). The Kiosk, access to which is available through the National Institute of Newman Studies, is in use by Newman scholars all over the world.

The principles behind the Kiosk are transferable to any author or group of texts. Here in Toronto we are working with Crivella West in perfecting the adaption of Crivella West software for application in the humanities and expanding somewhat related Kiosk collections for Lonergan, Henri Nouwen and GK Chesterton (thus allowing us to experiment with overlaying authors and doing some cross analysis of concepts). If you happen to be at the next International Conference on the Book in November, we will be demonstrating the software.

Cheers,

Jonathan Bengtson
Director of Library and Archives
University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto

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