Brought to you by the IFLA Advisory Committee on Standards:

How can information on the internet be categorized, related and interpreted? We’ve all had experiences searching and getting results that are not what we were thinking, such as searching for feline jaguars and getting motor vehicles or a sports team. If only we could get across what kind of thing we’re looking for, this noise could be reduced.  

The internet is structured around triples which use a sentence-like format consisting of a subject connected to an object by a predicate. The classes of things that can serve as subjects or objects, and the relationships between them that are relevant as predicates, are what is brought out by conceptual modelling. This shared understanding is formally recorded in a conceptual reference model and forms the basis for the detailed data analysis required for implementation, allowing for semantic interoperability between metadata issued by multiple sources and even different communities.   

Within IFLA, conceptual models are a type of IFLA standard, governed by the IFLA Standards Procedures Manual issued by the Advisory Committee on Standards. The Manual describes conceptual models as representing the structures and concepts of a domain in logical terms, conveying its fundamental principles, and documenting a shared understanding. Models form the building blocks for practical content and encoding standards.  

The IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM) was endorsed in 2017, superseding the previous IFLA models for bibliographic information. The Bibliographic Conceptual Models Review Group works collaboratively with other heritage communities to maintain shared models. A long-standing fruitful collaboration is with the International Council of Museums’ Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) Special Interest Group which maintains the family of models of relevance to the museum community. The version of LRM formulated to interoperate with the CRM, known as LRMoo (object-oriented LRM), will shortly be published after receiving joint approval from both communities.   

Author: Pat Riva, Secretary, Advisory Committee on Standards