It is definitely true that, from the point of view of resource management, each 
manifestation has its own particular information that needs to be looked at 

But its also true--or at least so it seems to me from the feedback our users 
give us--that very few users care what provider they get their e-book or 
articles from.  For example, we often get complaints from users about the 
intermediary menu our link-resolver shows when we have the same content from 
multiple providers, as it creates an extra step and occassionally some 
confusion about exactly what is going on.

The users that have preferred provider, I would guess, get to their resources 
via the provider (or by other means, Google Scholar, etc.) and not through our 
catalog.  (Then again, here at MIT we follow, whenever possible, a "single 
record approach" which might be understood in FRBR-terms as "expression-level 
cataloging". So maybe our users are already particularly finnicky about what 
they see in the catalog?)

So while I think the concept of different electronic manifestations is 
important for catalogers, but I'm not sure the practice of generating records 
for each specific electronic manifestation is going to make our catalogs more 
appealing to end-users.

My .02,

Benjamin Abrahamse
Cataloging Coordinator
Acquisitions, Metadata and Enterprise Systems
MIT Libraries

-----Original Message-----
From: Resource Description and Access / Resource Description and Access 
[] On Behalf Of Kevin M Randall
Sent: Thursday, December 27, 2012 12:52 PM
Subject: Re: [RDA-L] The purpose of standards

James Weinheimer wrote:

> With online resources, everyone is looking at *exactly the same files* 
> so the utility of even considering an online resource in terms of a 
> manifestation may be far less useful.

It seems to me that the concept of manifestation is no less important when 
considering online resources.  And they are certainly not always "exactly the 
same files".  For things such as electronic journals, there can be very 
significant differences between manifestations (the one found on the 
publisher's web site vs. Ebsco vs. Gale, etc.).

And then there are also ebooks, where you have versions for Kindle, for Nook, 
etc.  Sound files can be in various formats and at different bit rates.  
Graphic files can be in different formats and resolutions.

Many books, films, sound recordings, etc. have been digitally converted and 
remastered multiple times, and there are very real differences between the 
versions--differences which can be significant, perhaps even critical, to the 

Compared to the print world, one could argue that we are dealing with a greater 
number of manifestations, and there will always be a need to distinguish 
between them, on both the managerial side (e.g. selection and acquisition) and 
the user side (obtaining files whose formats and features meet the user's 

Kevin M. Randall
Principal Serials Cataloger
Northwestern University Library
(847) 491-2939

Proudly wearing the sensible shoes since 1978! 

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