FRBR (functional requirements for bibliographic records)

“Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records” (FRBR) was commissioned by IFLA and published in 1998. It defines the core functions of a catalogue and bibliographic records. For that purpose an abstract entity-relationship model of a catalogue is proposed.


So far there has been some theoretical discussion of the model and some limited experiments, but there is a lack of research in how to implement this theoretical model in new-generation catalogues. In Zumer & Riesthuis (2002) some reactions to the model are analyzed focusing on consequences the OPAC interface design, the searching functionality and the display of results.


"FRBR does not account for “reality”, but for a “conceptualization” of reality. It certainly shows innovative features, particularly with regard to activities related to the “Semantic Web”, but also elements of conservatism in its approach. The “logical flaws” that are sometimes denounced in the analysis it embodies actually reflect logical flaws in cataloging practice itself, showing the value of FRBR as a tool for assessing such practice. As to future evolutions in cataloging, alternatives to FRBR are possible. " (Le Boeuf, 2005, p. 1).






FRBR Bibliography. FRBR Review Group - IFLA, Division IV, Cataloguing Section.


IFLA Study Group on the functional requirements for bibliographic records. Functional requirements for bibliographic records: final report [printed text]. Munich, Germany: K. G. Saur, 1998. Also available online from World Wide Web:, or:


Le Boeuf, Patrick (2005). FRBR: Hype or cure-all? Introduction. IN: Cataloging and Classification Quarterly, 39(3/4), 1-13 and in Functional requirements for bibliographical records (FRBR): Hype or cure-all? Ed. by Patrick Le Boeuf. The Haworth Press.


Taniguchi, S. (2003). Conceptual modeling of component parts of bibliographic resources in cataloging. Journal of Documentation, 59(6), 692-708.


Zumer, M. & Riesthuis, G. J. A. (2002). Consequences of implementing FRBR: Are we ready to open Pandora's box? Knowledge Organization, 29(2), 78-86.



See also: Descriptive cataloging



Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 18-08-2007