Report to the Ulverscroft Foundation

Best Practice Development Programme 2009











Kathy Teague & Wendy Taylor

RNIB National Library Service










June 2010


As mentioned in our application, RNIB is in the process of tendering a new Library Management System (LMS) and we thought that this is the opportune time to learn more about Functional requirement of Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and determine whether we should adopt this new cataloguing model. If we choose to adopt FRBR, we need to ensure that the new LMS will support it so it's very important that we understand what is involved. We were delighted and grateful to the Ulverscroft Foundation to have given us the opportunity to visit Celia Library in Helsinki to see FRBR in practice.

The aims of our visit to Celia Library were to learn about the practicality of FRBR and to discuss the pros and cons of the FRBR model with other professionals in the field. The visit to Celia Library achieved our objectives and more. FRBR is now more than just a concept to us. We can see how it works in practice and how it would affect the cataloguing process at RNIB, its impact on the systems, our staff and customers. We can now recommend the course of actions that we think RNIB National Library Service should take regarding the cataloguing of our accessible materials.

Visit programme

Day One

  • Welcome and introductions. Katariin Kiilainen (Head of Library Services) described the services and structure of the Celia Library. She provided us with statistics of the service. Celia Library was founded in 1890 and has been state owned since 1978. The library has 15,000 customers and issues 950,000 loans per year - 98% of which are Daisy books. All items are produced on demand and do not need to be returned to the library. The library has 52 employees and serves all print disabilities and ages, but mainly serves those who are 60 years plus with visual impairments
  • Tour of the library. We were shown the production areas as well as the shelves which are used to store thermoform image masters and original print works used for production. As items are produced on demand there is no physical library, except for the tactile picture books which are kept in the children's area.
  • Production and textbooks. We were shown how the production system interacts with the library management system. All staff have access to the catalogue which can be updated by production staff with information about the finished accessible format item

Day Two

  • LMS and cataloguing. We were shown how the FRBR structure works in practice and given the opportunity to catalogue ourselves.
  • LMS and customer services. We were shown the patron side of the LMS and how patrons choose books and join book clubs

Day Three

  • Tour of the Finnish Library
  • FRBR presentation by Eeva Murtomma. We were shown a presentation which explained the principles of FRBR and it helps readers to find books more easily. Day Four
  • Services for children and young people. Celia Library holds story telling sessions for children undergoing rehabilitation. The children are given a library card as this was identified as being important to children.


As a result of the visit to Celia Library we learned to catalogue with Axielle LMS, using a modified version of the FRBR model. We could see the result of our cataloguing practice in the web environment, Celianet and observe demonstrations of the related processes that lead to Celia library patrons receiving the book they wish to read.

We were impressed with the system integration at Celia Library. The library catalogue is linked to the production and distribution systems. This reduces the likelihood of errors from re-keying data and makes the process of selecting a book, to producing it and making it available to customers more efficient. System integration will be critical to the success of our new LMS.


FRBR (unctional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) is a new bibliographic model that allows us to assign relationships between different accessible formats of the same work. This enables the linking and grouping of the bibliographic catalogue records to simplify display. It should enhance the searching and retrieval experience of library catalogues users.

RNIB produces the majority of its titles in more than one format. A standard print work may be used to produce accessible copies in contracted and uncontracted braille, DAISY and giant print. These accessible formats might be available for loan or for sale and therefore require different information to describe them. These various manifestations make RNIB an ideal candidate to adopt the cataloguing model FRBR.

Catalogue records on Aleph and Infor, our currently library management systems, are currently based on a simple work / manifestation structure. The print book is catalogued with the accessible versions attached. All information relating to the accessible versions are contained at the holdings level.

We recommend RNIB NLS move to a structure based on RBR Group 1 entities, similar to Celia Library.

Our recommendations

Based on what we have seen at Celia library and our understanding of FRBR, we will recommend that RNIB adopt the FRBR model. With the new LMS we are hoping to give our customers the freedom to create and maintain their own reading lists. Adopting FRBR will make this process possible because each format will have its own bibliographic record. If we continue to catalogue as we do now, one bibliographic record for the print book and multiple holdings for the various formats, we risk not able to fulfil this requirement. Customers can only add the title but not a specific format unless the supplier of the chosen LMS does some customisation for this to happen. With FRBR our customers will be able to add a specific format to their reading list as they would at any public library without additional work to the LMS.

Most libraries in the field are now cataloguing the accessible format and I think that it is no longer practical for RNIB to continue our cataloguing practice. There are new and more complicated accessible materials emerging and the holding record is not comprehensive enough, and not meant to be, to describe these new formats.

Even if we don't adopt FRBR now, it would be beneficial for RNIB change the way we catalogue and catalogue at the manifestation level, each accessible format has its own bibliographic with reference to the original print. This means that we will be half way there if we choose to implement FRBR in the future. We should take advantage of the data migration to split our records. The downside of this is that we don't have the facility to group our records to simplify the display making our search results long and cumbersome to navigate.


We learnt a great deal about FRBR from our visit and will be able to use this knowledge effectively in the development of the new RNIB LMS. We will also be writing an article on our experience for the online journal Ariadne so that other can benefit from the knowledge we have gained.



Kathy and Wendy with Celia Library staff who made our visit a success.

Celia Braille Library Card for Children members

Celia's Children Librarian showing us her tactile books