What is the Built Works Registry Project?
The Built Works Registry (BWR) is a collaborative project funded by a 2010 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant. The goal of BWR is to create and develop a freely available registry of architectural works and the built environment. The Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, Artstor and the Getty Research Institute (GRI) are the principal collaborators for this project. An international advisory council provided guidance on BWR development.
The BWR seeks to assist with providing a unique identifier for specific built works. Built work creators and locations are often identified in metadata records and controlled by community standards (e.g. LCNAF, ULAN, TGN, GNIS), but there is no community-wide list of the works themselves. Given this, the identification of architectural works and the built environment presented a unique challenge for scholars and catalogers, resulting in redundant compilation of works lists on the part of various catalogers and institutions. BWR is conceived and developed to address this issue by creating a shared community infrastructure for cataloging records of built works.
BWR’s goal is to aggregate existing work records originating from multiple institutional sources that identify and catalog structures in the built environment in different ways, and normalize those data into a single descriptive record. Every built work included in BWR is assigned a unique identifier number or BWR ID. The BWR ID serves the same purpose as the ISBN/ISSN system does in the world of publishing and provides a standardized system by which a built work can be identified. A BWR record includes a unique ID number, a preferred name and (when possible) variant names, location and geo-location coordinates.
As an international registry for the built environment, the establishment of and continued growth of BWR is a step toward the creation of a fully integrated and inclusive built works authority file, which at this time does not exist. In the services of this longer-term goal, BWR will serve as one of the core contributors to the Getty Research Institute’s Cultural Objects Name Authority® (CONA). Over time, CONA will contain authority records for cultural works, including architecture and the built environment.
How does BWR define a built work?
Our definition of a built work is any structure, or associated structure, which has been designed and created through human effort and is habitable at the human scale.
Are there built works which BWR does not include?
With few exceptions, BWR does not include structures that are wholly moveable and/or intended for temporary use. BWR does not include objects for which the entire work might typically be housed in museums, special collections, natural history or scientific collections. BWR does not include works that were designed through human effort but were never built.
Is the BWR an authority?
BWR is a registry and is not intended to function as an authority. As a registry, BWR’s principal objective is to identify all built works with a name, location and unique identifier number and thus allow users to confirm the identity of a built work. BWR will provide links to other institutions which provide and publish their own authorities, i.e. Getty Research Institute’s Cultural Objects Naming Authority (CONA). BWR will serve as one of the core contributors to CONA.
Does the BWR include images of built works?
At this point, BWR does not include images of built works.
Who is responsible for BWR data?
BWR’s editorial team is responsible for coordination and oversight of BWR data, data standards and contributor policies.
Who do you envision as making contributions to BWR?
The continued growth and usefulness of BWR will depend on institutional contributions as well as user contributions. Initially, contributions to BWR will come from institutions and/or cultural repositories; in future, contributions from individuals will be a key feature of BWR. BWR is intended to allow an unlimited number of contributors to participate in building and maintaining the file as a community-generated resource.
How can institutions contribute to BWR?
Institutions interested in making contributions to BWR should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your communication to us, please provide a description of your institution, the general scope of your collection, and the kinds of information your institution collects about built works.