Friday, December 20, 2013

How Did RDA Come To Be?


In the late 1990’s the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules decided to make changes for the future of AACR. It realized that the changes that give us a new way to look at our environment also give us new opportunities to improve how we deliver bibliographic information to users.

Resource Description and Access

In 2002, work had begun on a revision of AACR2, called AACR3.  However, by April 2005, the plan had changed.  The reactions to an initial draft raised particular concerns about the need to move to closer alignment with the FRBR model and to build an element set. It was clear that we could not continue doing cataloging the way we always had.  We could no longer produce records in MARC format in systems that could not talk to the rest of the information community.

A new plan was developed and the name was changed to Resource Description and Access to emphasize the two important tasks. Importantly, the Anglo-American emphasis was removed.

Collaboration with Other Communities

The Joint Steering Committee (JSC) for the Development of RDA has paid close attention to developments in IFLA as well as in various metadata communities, and initiated collaborations with the publishers’ community who were developing their own metadata set called ONIX.  Together these parties developed controlled vocabularies for media types, content types, and carrier types (called the RDA/ONIX Framework).
In 2007, JSC representatives met with key collaborators and agreed to examine the fit between RDA and other metadata models.  Together we have created an initial registry for the RDA elements and controlled terms, available freely on the Web.

In 2008 the JSC started participating in a joint effort to determine what revisions are necessary to accommodate the encoding of RDA in MARC 21. The RDA/MARC Working Group has presented proposals to MARBI (the Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information committee of ALA), many of which have already been approved.

RDA addresses all types of materials collected by libraries, but defers to specialized cataloging manuals for more specific rules needed for some types of materials -- for cultural objects, rare materials, cartographic resources, and more. In some cases, there will be a transition or “bridge” period to move from current practices and formats and systems to the next generation.

A Tool for the Digital World

The Joint Steering Committee stated among the goals for RDA that it was to be a tool designed for the digital world.  This had several implications:
  • RDA was to be a Web-based tool optimized for use as an online product. The result is the RDA Toolkit, which continues to be refined with feedback from users.
  • RDA was to be a tool that addresses cataloging all types of content and media
  • RDA was to be a tool that results in records that are intended for use in the digital environment, through the Internet, Web-OPACs, etc.
  • RDA was intended to result in records with a metadata set of elements intended to be readily adaptable to newly emerging database structures.


RDA Specific Goals

Although not all of the stated goals for RDA have yet been reached, but good progress is being made and proposals for improvements are still welcome.  Specifically, RDA rules were to:

  • be easy to use and interpret
  • be applicable to an online, networked environment
  • provide effective bibliographic control for all types of media
  • encourage use beyond the library community
  • be compatible with other similar standards
  • have a logical structure based on internationally agreed-upon principles
  • separate content and carrier data, and separate content from display
  • provide numerous examples, appropriate and relevant to the specific instruction

[Source: Library of Congress]