Thinking about FRBR user tasks

An activity in the first module of ETL505 asked us to list elements/attributes of a resource that we might find useful when searching for it – and then breakdown which of the initial four Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) tasks (Hider, 2012, pp. 27 -29) each element was useful for performing.

My initial answer, posted on the forum, was:

So, the first thing I would note is that the revised FRBR has five user tasks, not four. For the purposes of this exercise, I assume we are limiting ourselves to the original four: find, identify, select, and obtain (Hider, 2012, p.18; 2018, pp. 27-29).
For the prescribed textbook for the course, some of the elements or attributes that I would find useful for discovering (or finding and identifying or selecting) and retrieving (or obtaining) the resource might be:
  1. the author’s name
  2. the title of the work
  3. an idea of what the subject area of the work is
  4. the edition information (what number edition and what year of publication are required)
  5. the available formats
  6. the price
  7. availability for purchase
  8. availability for borrowing or use from a library
Attributes 1- 5 would be helpful in FINDing that resource and for IDENTIFYing or SELECTing it as well. In this case, I am not quite sure whether I would be IDENTIFYing or SELECTing the resource – I think there would be a bit of an element of both because I would need to IDENTIFY the appropriate edition (for which attribute 4 would be particularly useful) but then use attribute 5 to SELECT which format of the resource I would prefer. For that SELECTion task, I would use elements 5 – 8 to make my choice and then attempt to OBTAIN the item upon which I had decided. (Hider, 2018, pp. 27-29).
I included attributes 6 – 8 because they were quite relevant to my particular search process. Having a preference for using a physical text, I opted to purchase the new edition even though attribute 6 was off-putting. However, attribute 7 intruded on my process of OBTAINing the resource when Booktopia had a backorder on the item. At that point, I re-evaluated my preferences and priorities amongst attributes 6 – 8 and decided to OBTAIN the eBook from the library as I estimated I would have read 1/3 to 1.2 of the text online anyway by the time the backordered physical book was able to be OBTAINed (Simon, 2019).
There has been much discussion on the forums regarding the tasks “identify” and “select”. The text presents them as mutually exclusive tasks that sit between the generation of search results produced by “find” and the actual tangible acquisition of the resource that is “obtain” (Hider, 2012, pp.27-29). In this view, “identify” is used when confirming the identity of one particular resource that is desired, while “select” represents choosing a resource or resources that will align with the desired criteria.
In light of that, I suppose the multiple formats of the textbook and the fact that I did not have a single, unalterable preference for one of those formats, makes “select” the correct user task to define my search example provided above. However, while I do see that there is a temptation to substitute the everyday meaning of these words for the technical definitions provided in the FRBR structure, I am still not completely convinced that the tasks identify and select cannot be meaningfully applied to the description of a single search experience.
Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description: Creating and managing metadata. Croydon: CILIP Group.
Hider, P. (2018).  Information resource description: Creating and managing metadata 2nd edition. London: Facet Group. Accessed from
Simon, M. (2019). Re: Activity: Functions of metadata (discussion forum post). Retrieved from
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