FRBR for the Terrified

On Monday, some colleagues and I attended the FRBR  for the Terrified workshop at the University of Kent, Canterbury. It was facilitated by Robin Armstrong Viner, Head of Collection Management at the University of Kent.

Although I’ve been reading a fair bit about RDA (Resources Description and Access) (which is based on FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) principles) over the last couple of years, I haven’t had any training in RDA-related things since we touched on it in the Music Cataloguing for Beginners course I attended in 2011. It was good to have the opportunity to learn about FRBR itself, something with which I wasn’t very familiar at all. I was slightly daunted by it before the session, but, while I still need to make all the information stay in my brain somehow, I feel that I understand it much better now!

The workshop was mainly a PowerPoint presentation, to which I added copious notes, as fast as I could write them down (as is my wont), but we also had a couple of practical exercises to do. I think these were the most helpful parts of the workshop, as we had to really think about and apply the FRBR principles in ‘real life’. I particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter-related task, when we had to arrange cards representing a variety of Harry Potter-related items to their correct part of the “Bibliographic Relationships” table (p. 4 of the PDF).

It was all a good reminder of why I enjoy cataloguing so much. I love the way it makes you think differently about what might be considered normal everyday objects; what they really are, where they’ve come from, their relationships to other things. Learning about FRBR, I found I was having to switch on my ‘cataloguing brain’, which was great!

I don’t know when I will have the opportunity to practically apply what I’ve learned, as it is unlikely that my workplace will be implementing RDA anytime soon; but I was glad to have the opportunity to do some professional development and at least gain some theoretical grounding in these important changes to cataloguing practice.

Thank you to the lovely people at the University of Kent for a most interesting afternoon…not to mention some tasty cake!


We were given a very useful list of bibliographic references. I won’t include them all, but here are a few links to FRBR and RDA-related readings and resources available online:

I apologise for all the acronyms in this post!


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