Game: How does the

How does the work work?
Before we can describe a set of items in order to enable access to those items for a particular
purpose, or to facilitate a specific understanding of those items, we need to define, as best we can,
what constitutes that set of items. Why? Because different sorts of items will require different
attributes to describe them in a useful manner, and different sorts of items will also potentially
require different sets of values associated with those attributes. If we are describing photographs,
then we might need an attribute to specify the format: negative, print, digital. It would be difficult
to create additional attributes for physical characteristics, because each of these formats is so
different. But if have narrowed our set of items to digital photographs, then we can include
attributes specific to that medium, such as file format (JPEG, GIF, and so on), file size, and
resolution in pixels.
In the bibliographic universe, there is a longstanding agreement that it’s useful to define not only
each discrete physical item (such as a particular copy of the epic Gilgamesh) but the set of all
items that contain essentially the same intellectual content (all of the copies of all of the editions
of Gilgamesh). This set of “pretty much the same” items is called the work. While the idea of the
work seems basically intuitive and useful—most people searching a library catalog aren’t looking
for a specific physical copy of Gilgamesh; they either want any Gilgamesh or want to select from
all the Gilgameshes that the library may contain—it can be quite difficult to define what
constitutes the work in any particular case, especially when there are many versions. (So much
for necessary and sufficient conditions.)
In this activity, you will confer with your colleagues to determine how many works are present in
four separate sets of similar items. Although the idea of the work is typically described as general
and universal across contexts, you will then consider some different scenarios and see if any of
these affects how you might define the work for each set.
How this will, er, work. We will separate into eight groups (5 to 6 people per group). I have two
sets each of four types of items:
 Bibles.
 The jazz standard Satin Doll.
 Maps of Austin.
 Romeo and Juliet.
Each group will initially get one set of items (either a group of bibles, or a group of jazz, or maps,
or the play). All the groups will perform steps 1-3 for the items they receive. The groups will then
swap items so that each group has another type of item (if a group had bibles initially, they would
get either the jazz, the maps, or the play), and we will undertake another round of steps 1-3 for the
new set of items. We will continue this for four rounds, so that each group has had a chance to
interact with all four types. We will spend about 15 minutes for each round.
At the end, we will discuss our findings as a class, going over each type of item (bibles, jazz,
maps, play) in turn.
Step one: examine your items.
Systematically go through all the items in your group’s set.
INF 384C, fall 2010
In most cases, you will have the entire item; however, for electronic resources you only have
metadata about the item. This should be sufficient to make your determination, but if you
disagree for any particular case, keep those items aside and be able to explain what information
was lacking.
Step two: divide your items into sets that represent the same work.
Separate your items into piles for different works. Be prepared to explain your rationale for these
You can use a definition of work from any of the week’s readings (Wilson, FRBR) or devise your
own definition of work. (Even if you use a definition from the readings, you will likely need to
make some judgment calls where the definition you selected lacks detail.)
Advanced: If this seems easy, further separate your items into piles for expressions and
manifestations according to the FRBR definitions.
Step three: consider different user scenarios and how these might affect your groupings.
Does your definition of the work apply universally for each of these cases? Or might you adjust
your sets for specific scenarios? Be able to explain why you would or would not adjust your
definitions for each of the following situations.
Scenarios for the bibles:
 A scholar who wants to create an authoritative critical edition of the work.
 A professor at UT who wants to assign the work for an introductory class in the JudeoChristian tradition.
 An undergraduate student from India, raised as a Hindu, who wants to use the work to
better understand her Christian roommate.
Scenarios for the jazz:
 The leader of a high-school vocal-jazz ensemble who wants to find good repertoire for
the group.
 A casual jazz listener who wants to develop a more educated sense of the music.
 A scholar who wants to create an authoritative critical edition of the work.
Scenarios for the maps:
 A city planner trying to determine new bus routes.
 Someone wanting to buy a house in Austin.
Scenarios for the plays:
 A scholar who wants to create an authoritative critical edition of the work.
 A middle-school English teacher who wants to use the play in class.
 The director of a community theater group who wants to stage the play.
Step four: synthesis of group findings
For each type of item (bibles, jazz, maps, play), I will ask the groups to share the following:
What you decided.
How you made your decisions.
Which decisions were difficult and why.
INF 384C, fall 2010
If you would adjust your categorizations for any of the scenarios, and your associated
INF 384C, fall 2010
Record your work!
(if you want)
Use this space to note down how you grouped the items for each set into works.
Any changes for different scenarios?
Any changes for different scenarios?
INF 384C, fall 2010
Any changes for different scenarios?
Any changes for different scenarios?
INF 384C, fall 2010