Bibliographic Framework Initiative (Library of Congress)

The Library of Congress > BIBFRAME > Model & Vocabulary > BIBFRAME 1.0 Vocabulary: Terminology and Conventions

This document represents a previous version of the BIBFRAME Vocabulary which is now deprecated. For the BIBFRAME 2.0 RDF Conventions document, go to

The BIBFRAME vocabulary uses a Linked Data model and thus leverages the RDF modeling practice of uniquely identifying as Web resources all entities, attributes, and relationships (i.e., properties) between entities.


  • An RDF class is a type of thing.
  • An RDF property is a relationship between entities. It provides attributes for an individual class.
  • BIBFRAME Resource refers to a BIBFRAME Work, Instance, Authority, Annotation, or any subclass of these classes.
  • BIBFRAME cataloging resource refers to the work or instance being described.
  • BIBFRAME Core Classes are: Work, Instance, Authority and Annotation. The following are the BIBFRAME definitions for these entities. Any of the Core Classes may have subclasses, which may have their own properties.
    • BIBFRAME Work reflects a conceptual entity. A BIBFRAME Work is an abstract entity, as there is no single material object one can point to. The Work exists as a Web based control point that reflects both commonality of content between and among the various Instances associated with the Work as well as a reference point for other Works. Common properties of Works include contextual relationships to BIBFRAME Authorities related to the “subjectness” (topic, person, etc.) of the work as well as the entities (person, organization, jurisdiction, etc.) associated with its creation. Works can relate to other works reflecting specific relationships.
    • BIBFRAME Instance reflects an individual, material embodiment of a BIBFRAME Work that can be physical or digital in nature. A BIBFRAME Instance includes properties specific to the materialization information related to the publication, production, manufacture, and distribution of the material. Instances may relate to each other, to BIBFRAME Works, or to Authorities related to their physical or digital aspects.
    • BIBFRAME Annotation asserts information about a BIBFRAME Work, Instance, Authority or another Annotation.  Annotations are asserted in order to:
      - Express opinions about a resource, for example a review.
      - Attach institution specific information, for example holdings.
      - Contribute enhancements to a resource description, for example cover art or summary descriptions.
    • BIBFRAME Authority is used to identify the following that may be associated with a Work or Instance:
      - Agents: people, organizations, jurisdictions, etc., with roles such as authors, editors, distributors, etc.
      - Placesgeographic areas such as towns, countries, continents, etc.
      - Subjectstopical concepts, temporal concepts, places, agents, etc. that works are about. 
      BIBFRAME Authorities are not designed to replace existing authority efforts but rather provide a common, lightweight abstraction layer over various different Web based authority efforts to enable use of existing authority data.
  • Domain and Range
    • Domains are the subjects of a statement (i.e. an RDF triple) and indicate that a property applies to a particular class.
    • Ranges are the objects of the statement, or the expected value.  Range of propertiesmay be a URI/structured entity or literal/typed data.  If both are needed distinct properties are defined.
    Domains and Ranges may be restricted to one BIBFRAME Core Class, i.e. Work, Instance, Authority or Annotation.  If applicable to all Core Classes they have domain Resource; if applicable to more than one but not all they have no domain specified.
  • Structured Entity:  a structured entity is a BIBFRAME class, a subclass of a core class, defined to be the range of a property whose object is intended to be structured, i.e., it is necessary to parse the value into separate properties. In this case a class is established for the structured entity with applicable properties.
  • Local data may be added to any BIBFRAME graph by adding an external namespace property that extends BIBFRAME.

Naming conventions for classes and properties

  • Camel case is used for class and property names, even acronyms.  When terms conventionally have hyphens, they are changed to camelCase.
         partNumber, issnL, classificationDdc
         stockNumber rather than stock-number
  • Class and property names are singular, not plural.
         Person  (the class of persons)
         note  (the property note)
  • Properties may have the same name as a class if that is appropriate; the upper case on the class name will distinguish them.
         property:  title
         class:  Title
  • Properties and classes must have English labels, and may have labels in other languages in the future.
         rdf:label "Title"
         rdf:label "Titel"^^@de
  • Names are generally short and descriptive, not abstract.
         titleType   not   typeOfTitle or hasTitle
  • All property names must be unique across classes.
         property:  classification
         Classification (class) property: classificationNumber, not classification
  • If an attribute of a class may be either a string or URI/structured entity, then distinct properties are defined for these two cases:
         property for URI: musicMedium
         property for string: musicMediumNote