Bibliography in TEI XML

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At the moment I am working on transforming the current bibliography of into TEI XML so that I can get on with developing the new system using the bibliography as a prototype. These are my notes on which bibliographical encoding route I have chosen to go down.

The TEI guidelines Chapter 3.11 states that there are three different ways of marking up bibliographical elements:

  1. <bibl> Great for text structured bibliographical references. We used this for the Vindolanda Documents as we only had a bibliographical text-file.
  2. <biblStruct> Great for projects that are creating a bibliography from scratch or have a structured bibliography in a database.
  3. <biblFull> Great for those who want to connect to other citation standards.

At first I thought that <biblFull> would be the way to go as I also, wrongly, assumed that the “full” meant that it was a fuller version of <biblStruct> which on top of everything else was interoperable. Must be the best choice then?

After having struggled to map several (rather obvious) bibliographical data entities to <biblFull> I trawled the great big Internet for some help and came across this great explanation:

The “Full” in “biblFull” might lead you to think it is the grand super set. But it is not. BiblFull is for describing physical items in libraries and for syncing up as best as possible with a few centuries of library cataloging practice. If you can’t walk into a library and pick it up, don’t use biblFull. Use biblStruct. If you use biblFull, you will be forced to commit an unnatural act. (John P. McCaskey, forum answer on tei-l, 03.01.2013)

So I guess this means no <biblFull> for us. I will begin again with <biblStruct>, which I can of course always transform into different formats that can be downloaded from the site for the sake of interoperability.

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  1. […] have previously settled on fitting the bibliography, which is currently in postgres, into the TEI elements <biblStruct> inside a <listBibl> […]