Indiana University

Variations/FRBR Project News

Variations/FRBR Project Completion News (March 4, 2013)

The Variations/FRBR project at Indiana University ( has completed work on the project funded by an Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant, “Variations as a Testbed for the FRBR Conceptual Model.” We wanted to let you know about our most recent accomplishments.

1. Scherzo. In January 2012, we announced the availability of Scherzo, the search tool working off our FRBR-ized database of 80,000 sound recordings and 105,000 scores. Since that time, we have made substantial usability improvements and bug fixes to Scherzo. Scherzo is available at the following link:

A list of the improvements is given below.

  • New single tab search interface with all advanced options
  • Huge accessibility improvements on search interface and results pages
  • Improved facets display (sorting and number of visible facets)
  • Facet-like behavior for work results
  • Valid HTML through results and pages
  • Ability to remove individual search terms to modify search
  • Improved display of information for manifestation results
  • Improved display of work results (sorting, manifestations result count and view-all)

2. Linked Data Export. One objective of the V/FRBR project was to experiment with linked data. In 2011 we release our FRBR-ized data as an RDF export. This initial release had a number of shortcomings which we have since addressed. The major changes include: providing resolvable URIs and linking to existing external resources such as LC name authority records. The improved RDF data exports are available from the page linked below:

3. Sparql Endpoint. In addition to making RDF data available as downloadable exports, we have also implemented a SPARQL endpoint for interactive searching and browsing of the V/FRBR linked data. The SPARQL endpoint is available at the link below:

4. Linked Data Browsing From Scherzo. In addition to the two methods, above, for exploring linked data, we have added a link at the bottom of each manifestation detail view page in Scherzo. The "linked data" browsing link provides an interactive way to browse the linked data without having to compose SPARQL queries or download large data files.

If you have any questions or comments regarding our work, please email

New Search Usability Test Report Available (January 3, 2012)

Scherzo is a search interface designed to allow searches against a FRBR-ized set of music records from the holdings of Indiana University. The records were converted from MARC records used in Indiana University’s OPAC (IUCAT). This analysis compared Scherzo to IUCAT based on a set of tasks performed by participants in each system. The goals for this analysis were to see if one system performed more efficiently and effectively for participants and whether or not the FRBR-ized relationships proved beneficial.

The report is available for download as a 32-page PDF.

Variations/FRBR project releases linked data, source code, and an improved search (August 5, 2011)

Indiana University announces the availability of several deliverables from the IMLS-funded Variations/FRBR project, all of which areaccessible from the project website. All data exports contain data for 80,000 sound recordings and 105,000 scores, based on holdings of Indiana University's Cook Music Library.

An export of FRBRized data with an RDF binding of the V/FRBR data model is available in two forms: a single compressed archive containing all triples, and smaller separate files with batches of triples by entity type. Also available are an ontology in OWL and a set of RDF design templates.

Project source code is downloadable in four projects: persistence, FRBRization, export, and search. The vfrbr-persist project provides tools for creating the MySQL database and Java classes providing connection to the database. The vfrbr-frbrize-marc project provides the tools for FRBRizing MARC records and storing the results in the database. The vfrbr-export project enables XML exports from the database. The vfrbr-scherzo project contains the end-user search interface.

The Scherzo search interface has been enhanced to include scores as well as recordings. Keyword search is now available, along with a publication date facet, and usability has been improved through numerous small changes.

Comments and questions on the Variations/FRBR project may be sent to

New XML Schemas for FRBR data released (November 19, 2010)

The Variations/FRBR Project at Indiana University ( has released version 1.1 of a set of XML Schemas designed for the representation of FRBR data in XML. The 1.1 Schema release represents some significant improvements over our earlier 1.0 release, particularly in the handling of FRBR relationships. As before, the Variations/FRBR XML Schemas are defined at three "levels": frbr, which embodies faithfully only those features defined by the FRBR and FRAD reports; efrbr, which adds additional features we hope will make the data format more "useful"; and vfrbr, which both contracts and extends the FRBR and FRAD models to create a data representation optimized for the description of musical materials and we hope provides a model for other domain-specific applications of FRBR.

A User Guide with details on the structure of the Schemas and how they relate to one another may be found at, and links to all Schemas and documentation may be found at We hope this updated Schema release will lead to further discussion of FRBR implementation issues within the community. Comments and questions on the Variations/FRBR Schema release may be sent to

FRBRized cataloging tool designs and screencasts released (October 15, 2010)

One of the greatest challenges to implementing the FRBR conceptual model might be creating a cataloging interface that provides for efficient and effective data entry. The V/FRBR project has released a set of design wireframes for a FRBRized cataloging interface for musical materials, and screencasts explaining these designs. These may be found online at Comments and/or questions may be directed to

FRBRized data available for download (October 4, 2010)

The Variations/FRBR project at Indiana University has released bulk downloads of metadata for the sound recordings presented in the Scherzo music discovery system in a FRBRized XML format. The downloadable data includes FRBR Work, Expression, Manifestation, Person, and Corporate Body records, along with the structural and responsibility relationships connecting them. While this is still an incomplete representation of FRBR and FRAD, we hope that the release of this data will aid others that are studying or working with FRBR. This XML data conforms to the "efrbr" set of XML Schemas, defined at The XML data may be downloaded from, and comments/questions may be directed to

Scherzo, V/FRBR search system released (September 11, 2010)

Indiana University is pleased to announce the public (very Beta) release of Scherzo, a music discovery system designed as a testbed of the FRBR conceptual model. The system may be accessed at A product of the IMLS-funded Variations/FRBR project, Scherzo is an early proof of concept for what a library catalog built according to FRBR principles might look like. The current released system is most certainly not a finished product; rather it represents an attempt to share in-progress development work with interested individuals. It is (and will continue to be) far from perfect, and the Variations/FRBR project team hopes these very imperfections help to promote community discussion on the utility of the FRBR model and how feasible mechanisms to automatically FRBRize MARC bibliographic and authority records are likely to be. We welcome and intend to participate in public discussion on this system and the issues it raises. In addition, specific feedback may be sent to

Scherzo currently contains records representing approximately 80,000 sound recordings from the holdings of Indiana University's renowed William and Gayle Cook Music Library in the Jacobs School of Music. Work on Scherzo to date has focused most heavily on FRBR Work identification from MARC and basic results display in a FRBRized environment. While we have paid some attention to user interface design, it is not our project's primary concern. The search system currently resides on a test server; while we expect the service to be generally available, please excuse any temporary down time or unexpected restarts.

In the relatively short term, we have a number of planned improvements to the system, including a keyword search, improved Work identification processes, representing more specific roles that Group 2 entities have to Group 1 entities (beyond created by, realized by, and produced by defined in the FRBR reports), and bulk download of the source data powering this system in XML. In the slightly longer term we hope to make the source data available as Linked Data as well.

For more information, you may see detailed specifications for our MARC to FRBR record transformation, or the project home page

FRBR XML Schemas released (March 15, 2010)

The Variations/FRBR project at Indiana University ( is pleased to announce the release of an initial set of XML Schemas for the encoding of FRBRized bibliographic data. The Variations/FRBR project aims to provide a concrete testbed for the FRBR conceptual model, and these XML Schemas represent one step towards that goal by prescribing a concrete data format that instantiates the conceptual model. Our project has been watching recent work to represent the FRBR-based Resource Description and Access (RDA) element vocabulary in RDF; however, due to the fact that this work represents RDA data rather than FRBR data directly, and that much metadata work in libraries currently (though perhaps not permanently) operates in an XML rather than an RDF environment, we concluded an XML-based format for FRBR data directly was needed at this time. We view XML conforming to these Schemas to be one possible external representation of FRBRized data, and will be exploring other representations (including RDF) in the future. We define "implementing FRBR," as the conceptual models described in the companion FRBR and FRAD reports; at this time we are not actively working on the model defined in the draft FRSAD report. Perhaps the most notable feature of the Variations/FRBR XML Schemas is their existence at three "levels": frbr, which embodies faithfully only those features defined by the FRBR and FRAD reports; efrbr, which adds additional features we hope will make the data format more "useful"; and vfrbr, which both contracts and extends the FRBR and FRAD models to create a data representation optimized for the description of musical materials and we hope provides a model for other domain-specific applications of FRBR.

A User Guide with details on the structure of the Schemas and how they relate to one another may be found at, and links to all Schemas and documentation may be found at We hope this Schema release will lead to further discussion of FRBR implementation issues within the community. Comments and questions on the Variations/FRBR Schema release may be sent to

Variations/FRBR development team in place (April 19, 2009)

The Variations/FRBR project is pleased to welcome two grant-funded programmers to the project team. Paul McElwain joins the project following his work as a Programmer/Analyst on the Variations3 project. Alex Berry also comes to us from Variations3, having served that project as a graduate assistant. With the addition of Paul and Alex, the Variations/FRBR development team is complete. We look forward to a productive next phase of the project.

Two Variations usability reports available (April 19, 2009)

Variations/FRBR project team member Julie Hardestyhas released two reports intended to inform the design of the project's search and cataloging interfaces. These reports summarize the work of two usability studies performed in the early stages of the Variations/FRBR project. Both examine features of our current Variations system with the goal of understanding how these features can be improved when re-implementing them on top of FRBRized data. The reports can be found at:

Variations/FRBR Project Featured in IU Libraries Sources Newsletter (April 8, 2009)

The Fall 2008 issue of the IU Libraries Sources newsletter features an article on the Variations/FRBR projct, entitled "National Grant for Digital Music."

Work identification algorithm available (December 23, 2008)

The Variations3 project (precursor to Variations/FRBR) has performed a series of experiments designed to maximize the information we can map to the Variations3 work-based metadata model from MARC Bibliographic and Authority records. The biggest strength of our "batch loading" algorithm is better identification of Works that are represented in bibliographic recrods. The output of our batch loading work is data that conforms to the current Variations work-based metadata model, although we will be updating our specifications to output fully FRBRized data in the future. The full algorithm and supporting documents are now available.

Variations/FRBR Project featured in D-Lib Magazine (December 18, 2008)

A news item regarding the launch of the Variations/FRBR project is featured in the November/December 2008 issue of D-Lib Magazine . The entry, in the "In Brief" section, can be read at

New Variations Project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (November 20, 2008)

Indiana University's Digital Library Program has received a federal grant of $481,987 to demonstrate the benefits of an emerging form of cataloging using IU's vast collections of sound recordings and scores at the Cook Music Library. Responding to a challenge by the Library of Congress to test standards in the way libraries catalog and describe materials with multiple formats, IU's Digital Library Program will provide the nationwide library community a real-world case for testing and evaluation. This new project builds upon the work of the Variations2 and Variations3 projects in developing and testing work-based metadata models, and will result in the entire score and recording holdings of the Cook Music Library being searchable through the Variations system.

More information:

Variations/FRBR project funded

Indiana University is pleased to announce funding for a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for a project entitled "Variations as a Testbed for the FRBR Conceptual Model" (view IMLS announcement). This project will build on Indiana University's expertise in digital music libraries and the well-known Variations digital music library system , and provide a concrete testbed for the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) conceptual model. This project is focused on testing FRBR in a real-world environment, and on providing data, code, and system design specifications that can be re-used by others interested in FRBR.

These are our primary planned project activities:

  • Convert the production Variations system to use a FRBR-compliant data model
  • Adjust our existing algorithm for use of MARC records to conform to the FRBR-compliant data model.
  • Load FRBR Group 1, 2, and possibly 3 records for all score and recording holdings in the IU William and Gayle Cook Music Library (approximately 80,000 bibliographic records for audio recordings and 105,000 records for scores) into the redesigned system.
  • Make FRBRized records available for community use via OAI-PMH, SRU, and batch download.
  • Design and implement a new, openly-accessible search interface for discovering FRBRized data.
  • Design and implement a new cataloging system for FRBRized data that takes advantage of the distinction between the FRBR entities yet supports efficient data entry.
  • Perform usability testing on the new end-user and cataloger interfaces to evaluate their effectiveness.

Our project expects to have the following concrete work products:

  • A published FRBRization algorithm that operates on multi-Work Manifestations, and evaluation of its effectiveness
  • A formal data model for FRBR, if none is available before our project begins
  • FRBRized data made available to the community for further testing and analysis
  • An openly-accessible system for searching FRBRized music data for community testing and analysis
  • Usability evaluations of FRBR-based end-user discovery and cataloging systems
  • Figures on the costs of creating FRBRized bibliographic data by both automated and manual means
  • Source code for the Variations FRBR-based discovery system.

The three-year project will begin October 1, 2008. We look forward to starting work on this project, and sharing our progress widely.