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BIBFRAME (Bibliographic Framework) is a data model for bibliographic description. BIBFRAME was designed to replace the MARC standards, and to use linked data principles to make bibliographic data more useful both within and outside the library community.[1]


The MARC Standards, which BIBFRAME seeks to replace, were developed by Henriette Avram[2] at the US Library of Congress during the 1960s. By 1971, MARC formats had become the national standard for dissemination of bibliographic data in the United States, and the international standard by 1973.

In a provocatively titled 2002 article, library technologist Roy Tennant argued that "MARC Must Die", noting that the standard was old; used only within the library community; and designed to be a display, rather than a storage or retrieval format.[3] A 2008 report from the Library of Congress wrote that MARC is "based on forty-year old techniques for data management and is out of step with programming styles of today."[4]

In 2012, the Library of Congress announced that it had contracted with Zepheira, a data management company, to develop a linked data alternative to MARC.[5] Later that year, the library announced a new model called MARC Resources (MARCR).[6] That November, the library released a more complete draft of the model, renamed BIBFRAME.[1] [nb 1]


A diagram illustrating the basics of the Library of Congress's BIBFRAME model.

BIBFRAME is expressed in RDF. The model centers around four main classes: Creative works, Instances, Authorities, and Annotations.[1] While the creative work entity in BIBFRAME is roughly analogous to the work entity in the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) model, BIBFRAME's instance entity is a conflation of the FRBR expression and manifestation entities. This represents an apparent break with FRBR and the FRBR-based Resource Description and Access (RDA) cataloging code.[7] However, the original BIBFRAME model argues that the new model "can reflect the FRBR relationships in terms of a graph rather than as hierarchical relationships, after applying a reductionist technique." [1] Since both FRBR and BIBFRAME have been expressed in RDF, interoperability between the two models is technically possible.[8]

BIBFRAME authority entities address the issue of authority control. BIBFRAME authorities are a "lightweight abstraction layer"; these entities serve as "bridges" between works or instances and traditional library authority records, rather than replacing traditional library authority records.[9]

Annotations serve a number of different roles in the BIBFRAME model. One of the most valuable uses of these entities is to represent holdings and item-level data. BIBFRAME holdings annotations can express whether an item is held by a particular library, whether the item is currently checked out, the item's call number and location, and other item-specific data. Annotations can also be used to provide additional information about a work or instance, such as cover art, reviews, and patron-generated information.[10]

Specific formats[edit]

While the BIBFRAME model currently includes a serial entity, there are still a number of issues to be addressed before the model can be used for serials cataloging.[11]

A 2014 report was very positive on BIBFRAME's suitability for describing audio and video resources. However, the report also expressed some concern about the high-level Work entity, which is unsuitable for modeling certain audio resources.[12]


  • Colorado College's Tutt Library has created several experimental apps using BIBFRAME.[13]
  • Nine other research libraries are testing the new model.[14]

Related initiatives[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For a detailed history of discontent with the MARC standards between Tennant's 2002 article and the 2012 announcement of BIBFRAME, see Kroeger, Angela. "The Road to BIBFRAME: The Evolution of the Idea of Bibliographic Transition into a Post-MARC Future". Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 51 (8): 873–890. doi:10.1080/01639374.2013.823584. 


  1. ^ a b c d Miller, Eric; Uche Ogbuji; Victoria Mueller; Kathy MacDougall (21 November 2012). Bibliographic Framework as a Web of Data: Linked Data Model and Supporting Services (Report). Library of Congress. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Schudel, Matt. "Henriette Avram, 'Mother of MARC,' Dies". Library of Congress. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  3. ^ Tennant, Roy. "MARC Must Die". Library Journal 127 (17): 26–27. 
  4. ^ On the Record (Report). The Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. 9 January 2008. 
  5. ^ "The Library of Congress Announces Modeling Initiative". BIBFRAME. Library of Congress. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  6. ^ McCallum, Sally (13 September 2012). "Bibliographic Framework Initiative Approach for MARC Data as Linked Data". 7th Annual IGeLU Conference. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Mitchell, Erik. "Three Case Studies in Linked Open Data". Library Technology Reports 49 (5): 26–43. 
  8. ^ Zapounidou, Sofia; Sfakakis, Michalis; Papatheodorou, Christos (November 19–22, 2013). "Highlights of Library Data Models in the Era of Linked Open Data". In Emmanouel Garoufallou; Jane Greenberg. Metadata and Semantics Research. Metadata and Semantics Research Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece. Springer. pp. 396–407. ISBN 9783319034362. 
  9. ^ "On BIBFRAME Authority". Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "BIBFRAME Annotation Model". Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  11. ^ Fallgren, Nancy; Lauruhn, Michael; Reynolds, Regina Romano; Kaplan, Laurie (2 May 2014). "The Missing Link: The Evolving Current State of Linked Data for Serials". The Serials Librarian 66 (1-4): 123–138. doi:10.1080/0361526X.2014.879690. 
  12. ^ Van Malssen, Kara. "BIBFRAME AV Modeling Study: Defining a Flexible Model for Description of Audiovisual Resources". Library of Congress. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Nelson, Jeremy (2013). "Building a Library App Portfolio with Redis and Django". code4lib (19). Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "BIBFRAME Implementation Register". Retrieved 26 Oct 2014. 
  15. ^ Godby, Carol Jean. "The Relationship between BIBFRAME and OCLC’s Linked-Data Model of Bibliographic Description: A Working Paper". Retrieved 30 May 2014. 

External links[edit]