Alex Mayhew, Phylomemetic Cataloguing: Expanding Bibliographic Relationships Beyond FRBR in:

International Society for Knowledge Organziation (ISKO), Marianne Lykke, Tanja Svarre, Mette Skov, Daniel Martínez-Ávila (Ed.)

Knowledge Organization at the Interface, page 559 - 561

Proceedings of the Sixteenth International ISKO Conference, 2020 Aalborg, Denmark

1. Edition 2020, ISBN print: 978-3-95650-775-5, ISBN online: 978-3-95650-776-2,

Series: Advances in Knowledge Organization, vol. 17

Bibliographic information
Alex Mayhew – University of Western Ontario, Canada Phylomemetic Cataloguing Expanding Bibliographic Relationships Beyond FRBR Abstract: This poster will outline the design of a new library cataloguing model, a design based on the relationships between texts. Previous efforts within knowledge organization have resulted in impressive systems, but the present moment presents an opportunity for extending the capabilities of catalogues to better incorporate user engagement. This can be done with a synthesis of Knowledge organization across many domains, incorporating concepts from fields as diverse as Biology, Philosophy and Literary Theory: Phylomemetic Cataloguing. The growing demands put upon catalogues by their users present cataloguers with an opportunity to expand the functionality of their catalogues. There has been an enduring interest in bibliographic relationships. (Niu 2013; Noruzi 2012) However, to date there have been few efforts to use phylogenetic relationships in the examination of works. Capturing the relationships between texts is conceived as a line of descent of ‘textual memes’. These relationships would capture user perceptions of the descent of memes and can be visualized as family trees of related texts. 1.0 Cataloguing Background The current library model, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), was adopted when the new cataloguing guidelines, Resource Access Description (RDA) replaced the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules Second Edition (ACCR2). While RDA includes rules for creating relationship links between different texts, such as sequels, references and adaptations, its FRBR-based structure encourages cataloguers to be more concerned with the connections between different versions of the same work, such as editions and translations. FRBR makes certain philosophical assumptions, namely that any particular text can be best described in terms of a Four-level entityrelationship model, connecting item to manifestation, manifestation to expression, and expression to work. Each of these groupings exists at a certain level of abstraction and can contain many of the lower groups. The work represents a sort of Platonic Ideal of the text, a pure form that becomes more and more particularized as we move down to expression and manifestation by the vagaries of a particular language, the hand of a particular author or the quirks of a particular printing press. These vertical connections prioritized, as a result, despite RDA’s inclusion of all sorts of possible relationship descriptors, the primacy of FRBR means that cataloguers do not capture all the important relationships between catalogued items. 2.0 Cladistics and Phylogenetics Since the work of Carl Linnaeus in the 1750s biologists have made considerable progress in defining the often messy relationships between various organisms. Biologically inspired subject classification has a long tradition in LIS going back at least as far as the 1940s with the US Army Medical Library (Chan 1994). Bibliographic relationships are similarly organic, and that the insights of biologists can assist us to generate relationship trees based on a variety of factors, such as new editions, sequels, inspired works and academic citations. This would be of great use to readers, writers and researchers. 560 Biological taxonomy has a rich range of possible relationships that might be applied to information relationships. Cladistics, the dominant paradigm in taxonomy, is primarily concerned with lines of descent. However, with greater understanding of phenomena such as horizontal gene transfer and hybridization, modern taxonomy is able to describe many types of relationships that would serve as a model for the process of capturing and displaying the relationships between texts. This more granular and nuanced conception of descent is called Phylogenetics. Phylogenetic trees, as developed out of cladistics in biology, can be used as a model for bibliographic cataloguing systems. These trees have an added utility for importing to cataloguing, they lend themselves well to visualization. 3.0 Memetics Genes are the units of inheritance in biology; memes are the units of inheritance in culture. Just as genes can be incredibly diverse in function and manifestation, memes can be similarly varied: simple phrases passed from parent to child, such as “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, traditions, rituals, and best practices. Like genes, memes have a line of descent; however this project will only focus on ‘textual memes’, those units of cultural inheritance that manifest in ‘texts’. To be clear, texts in this case is to be understood in the broad sense, including more than just traditionally published books. Another way to understand textual memes is through the example of literary tropes that manifest in the creation of texts. Such tropes include plot structure, character archetypes, and genre conceits. Since there are more texts than just narratives in many catalogs it is insufficient to focus solely on narratives; tropes are a case study of narrative ‘textual memes’. The development of and connections within music, art, science, and more could all be captured with a suitably robust cataloging system based on the mapping of textual memes beyond literature tropes. 4.0 Bibliographic Relationships There has been an enduring interest in bibliographic relationships (Niu 2013; Noruzi 2012; Riva 2004; Smiraglia 2005; Tillet 2003). However, to date there have been few efforts to use phylogenetic relationships in the examination of works. According to Philipp A. Maas (2009) “a branching diagram that reflects the transmission history of a given text as truthfully as possible, is of fundamental importance for critical editing, since it enables the editor in many cases to judge the historical relationship of different text versions.” Despite Maas’s ability to analyze the Carakasaṃhitā Vimānasthāna, a classical Indian text with a long history of modification, there has not yet been a concerted effort to map the the standard relationship descriptors between works onto the phylogenetic model. This could be accomplished through a modification of the current cataloguing rules that focus on the relationships between works. From these relationships coherent groups of common descent, or clades, of related material would emerge. These clades would then go on to serve as improved localized finding aids. This project resonates with emerging transformations of library cataloguing; the current FRBR standard has laid the groundwork for the new Library Reference Model (LRM) (IFLA 2017). The LRM envisions a linked data approach to library cataloguing, with a consequent shift of emphasis towards semantically-encoded relationships between texts at various levels of FRBR. Each of these developments is a step towards 561 being able to capture more and more of the cultural and social context in which creative works arise (Coyle 2016). 5.0 Phylomemetics A functional prototype catalogue will use the Phylogenetic model and a select corpus of texts that contain ample and well documented inter-relationships at the monograph level, the level of particular editions. They will be catalogued first with the emerging linked data standards, such as the Web Ontology Language (OWL) based on phylogenetic approach, which will allow the visualization of these relationships in phylogenetic trees (Letunic and Bork 2011). This will serve to establish the viability of the phylogenetic approach to cataloguing, building on the emerging linked data approach as it built upon earlier traditions. The immediate goal of this new cataloguing model is to establish the parameters of a new bibliographic model that could dramatically enhance the library community’s exploitation of linked data in its catalogues. The impact of this new cataloguing system would be enormous, allowing users to navigate organically from one text to another. While the ability to search for a text by author, topic or other category will remain, the additional relationship links and the possibility to create visual relationship maps will be of great use to many people. The future of information appears to be increasingly focused on the connections between entities. If libraries and other information institutions wish to capitalize on this emerging paradigm they must create new tools. Phylogenetic-inspired cataloguing can be such a tool. References Chan, Lois Mai. 1994. Cataloging and Classification: An Introduction (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Coyle, Karen. 2016. FRBR, Before and After: A Look at Our Bibliographic Models. Chicago: ALA Editions. IFLA. 2017. Library Reference Model: A Conceptual Model for Bibliographic Information. Letunic, Ivica and Peer Bork. 2011. “Interactive Tree of Life v2: Online Annotation and Display of Phylogenetic Trees Made Easy.” Nucleic Acids Research 39: W475–W478. Maas, Philipp A. 2009. “Computer Aided Stemmatics — The Case of Fifty-Two Text Versions of Carakasaṃhitā Vimānasthāna 8.67-157.” Wiener Zeitschrift Für Die Kunde Südasiens / Vienna Journal of South Asian Studies 52/53: 63-119. Niu, Jinfang. 2013. “Hierarchical Relationships in the Bibliographic Universe.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 51, no. 5: 473-490. Noruzi, Alireza. 2012. “FRBR and Tillett's Taxonomy of Bibliographic Relationships.” Knowledge Organization 39, no. 6: 409-416 Riva, Pat. 2004. “Mapping MARC 21 Linking Entry Fields to FRBR and Tillett's Taxonomy of Bibliographic Relationships.” Library Resources & Technical Services 48, no. 2: 130-143. Smiraglia, Richard P. 2005. “Introducing Metadata.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 40, nos. 3/4: 1-15 Tillet, Barbara. 2003. “What Is FRBR? A Conceptual Model for the Bibliographic Universe.” Technicalities 25, no. 5.

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The proceedings explore knowledge organization systems and their role in knowledge organization, knowledge sharing, and information searching.

The papers cover a wide range of topics related to knowledge transfer, representation, concepts and conceptualization, social tagging, domain analysis, music classification, fiction genres, museum organization. The papers discuss theoretical issues related to knowledge organization and the design, development and implementation of knowledge organizing systems as well as practical considerations and solutions in the application of knowledge organization theory. Covered is a range of knowledge organization systems from classification systems, thesauri, metadata schemas to ontologies and taxonomies.


Der Tagungsband untersucht Wissensorganisationssysteme und ihre Rolle bei der Wissensorganisation, dem Wissensaustausch und der Informationssuche. Die Beiträge decken ein breites Spektrum von Themen ab, die mit Wissenstransfer, Repräsentation, Konzeptualisierung, Social Tagging, Domänenanalyse, Musikklassifizierung, Fiktionsgenres und Museumsorganisation zu tun haben. In den Beiträgen werden theoretische Fragen der Wissensorganisation und des Designs, der Entwicklung und Implementierung von Systemen zur Wissensorganisation sowie praktische Überlegungen und Lösungen bei der Anwendung der Theorie der Wissensorganisation diskutiert. Es wird eine Reihe von Wissensorganisationssystemen behandelt, von Klassifikationssystemen, Thesauri, Metadatenschemata bis hin zu Ontologien und Taxonomien.