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Rebecca Guenther
Contributors (in alphabetical order):
Jan Ashton, British Library; Karim Boughida, George Washington University Libraries; Alan Danskin, British Library; Corine Deliot, British Library; Ray Denenberg, Library of Congress; Nancy Fallgren, National Library of Medicine; Jean Godby, OCLC; Rebecca Guenther, Library of Congress; Reinhold Heuvelmann, German National Library; Sally McCallum, Library of Congress; Eric Miller, Zepheira; Uche Ogbuji, Zepheira; Jackie Shieh, George Washington University Libraries; Nate Trail, Library of Congress; Beacher Wiggins, Library of Congress

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Note: This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document.


To the extent possible under law, Library of Congress has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work. This work is published from the United States.

This document has been made available to the BIBFRAME Community for review. This is a discussion paper. It may be superseded in the future with an updated version that may represent minor corrections or major changes. In either case, access to previous versions will be maintained.

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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Current Standards/Efforts for Creative Works Types
    1. MARC/MODS
    2. RDA Content
    3. Dublin Core Resource Types
    4. CreativeWork Subclasses and Product Types Ontology
  3. Multiple Aspects of Resource Types
  4. Proposal
  5. Appendix 1: Mapping RDA Content Types to Bibframe Creative Work Subclasses
  6. Appendix 2: Mapping Dublin Core Resource Type to BIBFRAME Resource Type


Resource types are needed to establish broad categories of material which are frequently used in discovering and managing bibliographic data. In many metadata schemes this is a required element and it calls for a controlled list to be able to do anything useful with it. In BIBFRAME the broadest categorization will be subclasses of the CreativeWork class, and more specific types that characterize the physical resource will be subclasses of Instance. In looking at other attempts to categorize this information, there is wide variety in the granularity of the subclasses/terms and how to combine different aspects. This paper attempts to start a discussion so that we can understand how to represent these various aspects in BIBFRAME. It is currently limited to CreativeWork subclasses; Instance subclasses will be explored in a later paper.


Current Standards/Efforts for CreativeWork Types


CreativeWork subclasses are generally contained in LDR/06, which represents very broad categories. In some cases the categories combine different aspects (e.g. manuscript). There is an attempt to separate content and carrier aspects, where physical categories can be coded in 007. Additional more specific categories are in several character positions of 008, which are based on the resource types in LDR/06, as well as several variable fields (e.g. genre in 655). It is not always clear which of the various elements that carry this information apply to work vs. instance, and this will need to be analyzed further. MARC categories in LDR/06 are as follows. MODS resource types are essentially equivalent and the MODS term used is in parentheses after each if different from the MARC term.


LDR/06 MARC term MODS term Note


Language material


Defined as text; serial vs. monographic categories are in LDR/07 and electronic vs analog are elsewhere


Notated music

notated music



Manuscript notated music

notated music + manuscript = "yes"

Combination of term and manuscript attribute


Cartographic material




Manuscript cartographic material

cartographic + manuscript = "yes"

Combination of term and manuscript attribute


Projected medium

moving image

Equates more or less to moving image except for slide which is still image


Nonmusical sound recording

sound recording-nonmusical



Musical sound recording

sound recording-musical

In MODS there is also a sound recording


Two-dimensional nonprojectable graphic

still image

Equates more or less to still image except for slide, which is included in projected


Computer file

software, multimedia

Definition says to use only for software, numeric data, computer oriented multimedia, online systems



Not in MODS

Specific definition including a mixture of components but major aspect is that it’s instructional


Mixed materials

mixed material

Also defined as a mixture of formats and major aspect is that materials are related about a person or body, i.e. archival material and that it’s not instructional. So not strictly used for multiple types of resources and doesn’t exactly equate to multimedia because of the archival aspect.)


Three-dimensional artifact or naturally occurring object

three-dimensional object



Manuscript language material

text + manuscript = "yes"

Combination of term and manuscript attribute


Note this paper does not treat MARC Bibliographic Level (e.g. monograph, serial, integrating resource, etc.). This aspect has to do with issuance and is not considered part of resource type for purposes of this discussion.



RDA Content

RDA 6.9 defines content types; these are considered "other identifying attributes of expressions". (Note that there is a Form of work, but these are much more specific, e.g. play, motion picture, radio program and does not have a controlled list within RDA.) RDA Content Type is defined as: "a categorization reflecting the fundamental form of communication in which the content is expressed and the human sense through which it is intended to be perceived." Thus it combines both the basic resource type plus another aspect (how it is to be perceived, e.g. tactile, notated. Cartographic is apparently another aspect of how it is perceived since it combines the basic content type with the cartographic aspect. Digital seems to be indicated as the value "computer" under RDA Media Type. Content type is recorded using a term on the controlled list that is part of RDA. These are:

  • Text
  • Tactile text
  • Performed music
  • Sounds
  • Spoken word
  • 2 dimensional. moving image
  • 3 dimensional moving image
  • Still image
  • Tactile image
  • Cartographic dataset
  • Cartographic image
  • Cartographic moving image
  • Cartographic tactile image
  • Cartographic 3 dimensional form
  • Cartographic tactile 3 dimensional form
  • 3 dimensional form
  • Tactile 3 dimensional form
  • Notated music
  • Tactile music
  • Notated movement
  • Tactile movement
  • Computer dataset
  • Computer program

Some of these map to values in MARC LDR/06, although MARC provides a separate variable field to include content type (336).

Dublin Core Resource Types

A working group developed a list of controlled values for dc:type in the late 1990s. These are also high level categorizations with some but not complete equivalence to MARC LDR/06 values. More than one can be applied; for instance “collection” is a different aspect and is combined with another term. There are a few that are different types, such as event (perhaps that is a named entity rather than resource type) and service (perhaps should be a subtype).  It is not clear how broadly this set has been implemented.

  • Collection
  • Dataset
  • Event
  • Image
  • InteractiveResource
  • MovingImage
  • PhysicalObject
  • Service
  • Software
  • Sound
  • StillImage
  • Text CreativeWork Subclasses and Product Types Ontology defines subclasses of CreativeWork. These are generally have finer granularity than the other resource type lists and sometimes combine a number of different aspects. Subclasses are noted below (except a few subclasses have additional subclasses which have not been indicated). This is understandably focused on web resources so has limited applicability. Some of the classes may be expressed as media object under the property encoding (e.g. an article can be a videoObject or an audioObject)

TVEdisode   TVEpisode
The product types ontology ( is closely related to and may be worth considering for resource types with finer granularity; it includes over 300,000 types for products and services (many of which are irrelevant for bibliographic data).

Multiple Aspects of Resource Types

There are a variety of practices in terms of combining different aspects of the resource type. In some cases separate terms are established in the same list and multiple values used and in other cases the controlled terms "precoordinate" the different aspects. The additional aspects are: Whether a manuscript, e.g., handwritten or typed transcript Whether a collection, e.g., aggregated work Whether digital or analog Whether tactile Other aspects are: Dissertations: this has to do with the context in which it was created (how should this be represented? Is a resource that was originally presented as a dissertation and later published still a dissertation?) Mixed material: this has a very specific definition in MARC limited to archival type objects, while some have used it as meaning having multiple forms regardless of its orientation Multimedia: this can also be multiple forms of media. In some cases it is used for web resources in general that have audio or video embedded. It implies that it's software driven.


The proposed list is a melding of the MODS, MARC, and RDA lists and checked against the other lists in this document. Multiple terms may be used to make a more specific resource type, e.g. cartographic and still image.

Some subtypes are included as examples but there will be additional ones. This requires further work. Note that there will also need to be a list developed for BF Instance types such as media or carrier types; this will be forthcoming. Note that physical and digital will be included under Instance types. Definitions are included below (from various sources including MARC, RDA, MODS, Wikipedia, Dublin Core).

  • Language material: A form of notation for language intended to be perceived visually and understood through the use of language, i.e. text in written or spoken form. NOTE: although the term comes from MARC Leader/06 it expresses what we want here better than "text". This enables an audio book to be considered as language material and text/html (for a webpage, which can have image and other formats embedded) as multimedia. Subtypes: book, journal, legislation, newspaper, article, letter, dissertation
  • Cartography: Resources that show spatial information, including maps, atlases, globes, digital maps, and other cartographic items. Subtypes: map, globe, remote sensing image NOTE: This is often called "cartographic" but that term is not chosen because it is an adjective and all the other types are nouns.
  • Dataset: Data encoded in a defined structure. Includes numeric data, environmental data, etc., used by applications software to calculate averages, correlations, etc., or to produce models, etc., but not normally displayed in its raw form.
  • Notated music: Graphic, non-realized representations of musical works intended to be perceived visually or by touch.
  • Notated movement: Graphic, non-realized representations of movement intended to be perceived visually or by touch, e.g. dance.
  • Audio: Resources expressed in an audible form, including music or other sounds. Subtypes: musical, nonmusical, sounds, spoken word
  • Still image: Resources expressed through line, shape, shading, etc., intended to be perceived visually as a still image or images in two dimensions. Includes two-dimensional images and slides and transparencies.
  • Moving image: Images intended to be perceived as moving, including motion pictures (using live action and/or animation), film and video recordings of performances, events, etc. Subtypes: two-dimensional, three-dimensional
  • Three dimensional object: Resources in a form intended to be perceived visually in three-dimensions. Includes man-made objects such as models, sculptures, clothing, and toys, as well as naturally occurring objects such as specimens mounted for viewing.
  • Software/multimedia: Electronic resources that are computer programs (i.e. digitally encoded instructions intended to be processed and performed by a computer) or resources that consist of multiple media types many of which are software driven, e.g. videogames, websites.
  • Mixed material: Resources comprised of multiple types and not driven by software. This may include materials in two or more forms that are related by virtue of their having been accumulated by or about a person or body, e.g. archival fonds.
  • Collection: An aggregation of resources. May be combined with the above or used instead of the above.
  • Manuscript: Resources that are written in handwriting or typescript. These are generally unique resources. To be combined with the above (they should not be used alone).
  • Tactile: Resources that are intended to be perceived by touch. To be combined with the above (they should not be used alone).

Appendix 1: Mapping RDA Content Types to Bibframe Creative Work Subclasses


RDA content type value BIBFRAME Work subclass


Language material

Tactile text

Language material + Tactile

Performed music

Audio with subtype: musical


Audio with subtype: nonmusical + sounds

Spoken word

Audio with subtype: nonmusical + spoken word

2-dimensional moving image

Moving image with subtype: Two dimensional

3-dimensional moving image

Moving image with subtype: Three dimensional

Still image

Still image

Tactile image

Still image + Tactile

Cartographic dataset

Cartography + Dataset

Cartographic image

Cartography + Still image

Cartographic moving image

Cartography + Moving image

Cartographic tactile image

Cartography + Tactile + Still image

Cartographic 3-dimensional form

Cartography + Three dimensional object

Cartographic tactile 3-dimensional form

Cartography + Tactile + Three dimensional object

3-dimensional form

Three dimensional object

Tactile 3-dimensional form

Three dimensional object + Tactile

Notated music

Notated music

Tactile music

Notated music + Tactile

Notated movement

Notated movement

Tactile movement

Notated movement + Tactile

Computer dataset


Computer program



Appendix 2: Mapping Dublin Core Resource Type to BIBFRAME Resource Type

DC Resource Type BIBFRAME Resource Type






No mapping (BIBFRAME Authority)


Still image or Moving Image or Cartography




Moving image


Three dimensional object


No mapping (BIBFRAME Authority)






Still image


Language material