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FRBR, Information, and Intertextuality


Following from approaches that view information as documentary forms of specific communicative practices, this paper uses theoretical concepts derived from cultural theory to examine the concept of work in Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) in relation to authorship, the ur-text, and intertextuality. Historically, the practice of librarianship has existed on a foundation of standards, and among the earliest of the standards is the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR). The basis of this set of standards is materialist: the object of scrutiny is the document, and the document, whatever its specific form, is considered to possess materiality. This paper argues that unlike the AACR, FRBR lays bare its own ideological underpinnings, and in so doing, it dematerializes the text and mystifies the creative process. At the same time, it has really been with the development of FRBR and linked-data models that library and information science has considered intertextual analysis at the level of the document rather than at a more abstract level. The idealism that underpins FRBR’s notion of work points to intertextuality, with all its potential for rich analysis, but at the same time embeds deep in its system the logocentrism of the ideal signified—another example of disciplining epistemology. The paper will examine these two interlinked themes through discussion of FRBR and the strange case of the vanishing text, the ur-text, and intertextuality.