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Meet the New Cataloging Rules: RDA (Resource Description and Access). Wyoming State Library Webinar January 14, 2009 Susan Wynne. Disclaimer. Outline. RDA process and history RDA’s goals Foundations and influences Structure and terminology Approaches to some current problems

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meet the new cataloging rules rda resource description and access

Meet the New Cataloging Rules: RDA (Resource Description and Access)

Wyoming State Library Webinar

January 14, 2009

Susan Wynne

  • RDA process and history
  • RDA’s goals
  • Foundations and influences
  • Structure and terminology
  • Approaches to some current problems
  • Testing plans
  • Controversies, questions, considerations
  • Current timeline
my perspective
My perspective
  • Early career
  • Jack of all (cataloging) trades…master of none
  • Struggling to understand RDA
  • Goal for today: present a balanced view of RDA as I understand it
who s responsible
Who’s responsible?

Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA (JSC)

  • JSC Chair and Canadian Committee on Cataloging rep, Margaret Stewart
  • Australian Committee on Cataloging rep, Deirdre Kiorgaard (National Library of Australia)
  • ALA rep, John Attig
  • British Library rep, Alan Danskin
  • CILIP rep, Hugh Taylor
  • LC rep, Barbara Tillett
  • Project Manager, Marjorie Bloss
  • Editor, Tom Delsey
  • JSC Secretary, Nathalie Schulz
a brief recent history
A brief (recent) history

“Work on the new standard began in 2004, and in the same year the Committee of Principals for AACR (CoP) appointed Tom Delsey as the Editor. In December 2004 a draft of part I of AACR3 was made available to the constituencies for review. In 2005 a new approach was agreed on, and the decision made to adopt the title: “RDA: Resource Description and Access.” In December 2005, the draft of RDA part I was made available for review. Further drafts of RDA chapters were issued in 2006 and 2007. At the October 2007 meeting, the JSC agreed on a new organization for RDA.”

From JSC web site:

current status of rda
Current status of RDA
  • Full draft released in PDF November 17, 2008
  • Draft is not yet available in its online incarnation
  • Comment period currently open through February 2, 2009
  • PDFs available at
  • Unofficial online quick-and-dirty demo version created by Bernhard Eversberg at
what s wrong with the current ways
What’s wrong with the current ways?

AACR2 has been described as…

  • Difficult to adapt to digital resources
  • Very complex and intricate
  • Little used outside of library profession
  • Some conventions still tied to the catalog card
are these issues the biggest threats to our future
Are these issues the biggest threats to our future?
  • Library catalog records are still too isolated from the larger Web
  • Catalog data is still not really able to be harvested, parsed, and manipulated by machines

With thanks to Diane Hillmann and John Myers

some pieces of the puzzle
Some pieces of the puzzle
  • The content (cataloging rules)
  • The structure (MARC)
  • The display (integrated library systems)
what rda is intended to be
What RDA is intended to be
  • A content standard
  • A set of guidelines
  • Focused on user tasks
  • An online product (with possible print “derivatives”)
  • A more international standard
  • An effort to make library catalog data play better in the Web environment
  • May be used with many encoding schema such as MODS, MARC, Dublin Core
  • An attempt to improve the way we describe and present relationships among resources and bibliographic entities
  • Flexible and adaptable
what it is not intended to be
What it is NOT intended to be
  • A display or presentation standard
  • A metadata schema
  • A rigid set of rules
  • Structured around ISBD areas and elements
  • Instructions on creating and formatting subject headings (yet)
  • Instructions on classification numbers
foundations and influences
Foundations and influences
  • FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records)
  • FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data)
  • AACR2
  • Paris Principles, currently being updated by IFLA (“Statement of International Cataloguing Principles” draft)
  • ISBD (International Standard Bibliographic Description) But RDA does not follow ISBD order and ISBD punctuation is no longer required.
a crash course in frbr
A crash course in FRBR
  • “Conceptual model of the bibliographic universe”
  • NOT a set of cataloging rules or a system design for library catalogs
  • User tasks: Find, Identify, Select, Obtain
  • Based on entity-relationship theory (a database modeling technique)
  • Entities (things), Attributes (characteristics), Relationships (interactions)
Abstract concept

“Distinct intellectual or artistic creation”

Cannot point to a single concrete example


J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:

the book as it was in the author’s head!

Note that a film version of this title is a different (but related) work

A realization of a work in some concrete form: alphanumeric, musical notation, sound, image, objects, etc.

Examples of different expressions include revisions, abridgements, translations, and arrangements of musical works


A French translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a new expression

A physical embodiment of an expression

Manifestations are what we typically catalog

Changes to physical form or format with no changes to intellectual or artistic content result in new manifestations: paper to microform, different publishers, etc.


The American edition The British edition

  • A single example of a manifestation
  • Examples of variations among items include damaged copies, bound copies, autographed copies, etc.
examples of group 1 attributes characteristics or properties
Examples of Group 1 attributes(characteristics or properties)
  • Work
    • Title of the work
    • Form of the work
    • Date of the work
    • Intended audience
    • Context for the work
    • … and more
examples of group 1 attributes
Examples of Group 1 Attributes
  • Expression
    • Title of the expression
    • Form of the expression
    • Date of the expression
    • Extent of the expression
    • Language of the expression
    • …and more
examples of group 1 attributes1
Examples of Group 1 Attributes
  • Manifestation
    • Title of the manifestation
    • Statement of responsibility
    • Publisher/distributor
    • Date of publication/distribution
    • Series statement
    • Physical medium
    • Form of the carrier
    • Dimensions of the carrier
    • … and more
examples of group 1 attributes2
Examples of Group 1 Attributes
  • Item
    • Item identifier
    • Provenance of the item
    • Marks/inscriptions
    • Condition of the item
    • Access restrictions on the item
    • …and a few more
high level relationships
Diagram from FRBR report at Relationships
high level relationships1
High-Level Relationships

Diagram from FRBR report at

high level relationships2
High-Level Relationships

Diagram from FRBR report at

more relationship examples work to work or expression to work
More relationship examples: work-to-work or expression-to-work
  • Sequel or other successive work
  • Supplement
  • Complementary work (cadenza, libretto, etc.)
  • Summarization
  • Adaptation
  • Transformation (dramatization, screenplay, novelization)
  • Imitation (parody, etc.)
more relationship examples
More relationship examples
  • Whole/part relationships may occur at various levels and include chapters, volumes, issues, journal articles, etc.
  • Abridgments, revisions, translations, and musical arrangements are at expression-to-expression level
  • Manifestation-to-manifestation relationship types are reproduction or alternate (alternate format or simultaneously released edition)
From Barbara Tillett, “What is FRBR? A Conceptual Model for the Bibliographic Universe,” Library of Congress Cataloging Distribution Service, 2004,
frad even quicker
FRAD (even quicker)
  • An extension of FRBR to name authority data
  • To be published soon
  • Current functions of authority data
  • Concepts underlying the functions of authority data as a basis for future refinements and improvements
  • User tasks: Find, Identify, Contextualize, Justify
  • Like FRBR, FRAD defines entities, attributes, and relationships, but is focused on personal, corporate, and family names and their controlled access points
statement of international cataloguing principles
Statement of International Cataloguing Principles
  • Draft available at
  • Convenience of the user
  • Common usage
  • Representation
  • Accuracy
  • Sufficiency and necessity
  • Significance
  • Economy
  • Standardization
  • Integration
  • Defensible and not Arbitrary

From Barbara B. Tillett, “FRBR and RDA: Resource Description and Access,” In Understanding FRBR: What It Is and How It Will Affect Our Retrieval Tools, ed. Arlene G. Taylor ( Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2007), 87-95.

frbr frad and rda oh my
FRBR, FRAD, and RDA (oh my)
  • Many of the concepts and principles are not necessarily new—but some of the applications may be
  • RDA uses FRBR and FRAD terminology, which is new to many of us
  • In FRBR, attributes and relationships are mapped to the four user tasks
  • RDA elements are mapped to FRBR and FRAD entities, attributes and/or relationships

  • Relationships and roles
  • Linking entities to each other with less duplication of information and easier machine manipulation
  • Reducing reliance on transcription and cataloger-created free-text notes
rda appendices
RDA appendices
  • Capitalization
  • Abbreviations
  • Initial articles
  • Record syntaxes for descriptive data
  • Record syntaxes for access point control data
  • Additional instructions on names of persons
  • Titles of nobility, terms of rank, etc.
  • Dates in the Christian calendar
  • Relationship designators (4 appendices)
  • Complete examples
rda element set
RDA element set
  • Mapped to FRBR and FRAD
  • Compatible with ISBD, MARC21, and Dublin Core
  • Defines elements for FRBR and FRAD attributes and relationships
  • RDA Element Analysis
  • Provisional registration of RDA element vocabulary
rda s approach to
RDA’s approach to…
  • Content/carrier problem (GMD and SMD)
  • Multiple versions problem
  • Abbreviations
  • Main entry
  • Rule of three
  • Publication statements
  • Facsimiles and reproductions
cataloger scenarios
Cataloger scenarios

jsc s record structure scenarios
JSC’s record structure scenarios

1: Separate records for all entities with linked identifiers—mirroring the FRBR/RDA conceptual model (JSC’s preferred approach)

2: Composite bibliographic records, with authority records representing each entity

3: “Flat” record approach with all Group 1 entities on one record (this is the only scenario that MARC can accommodate)

From Hillmann, Diane. “Facing Forward: The Challenges Facing Catalogers.”

rda and marc
  • RDA/MARC Working Group is to propose changes to MARC21 to accommodate encoding of RDA data
  • MARC is only one possible encoding schema for RDA data
  • RDA online product will include mappings to MARC (current PDF draft has mappings to MARC21 in Appendix D)
  • “JSC has gradually backed away from their original stance that RDA could be expressed easily in MARC21”—Diane Hillmann
rda dublin core collaboration
RDA-Dublin Core Collaboration
  • Define RDA element set and vocabularies
  • Develop Dublin Core/RDA application profile
  • DCMI/RDA Working Group established April 2007
  • Make bibliographic elements usable in Semantic Web applications and citable with Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs)
  • Based on RDF (Resource Description Framework)
online product planned features
Online Product: Planned Features
  • Browse and Search text (chapters and appendices)
  • RDA-AACR2 Mappings
  • Mappings to Dublin Core, ISBD, MARC
  • Full or Core View options
  • Workflows and examples for different formats and types of resources
  • Links to external resources
  • Customizable views and settings
  • Demo from the IFLA Satellite Meeting, August 2008:
  • Six months
  • Coordinated by U.S. national libraries: LC, NAL, NLM
  • Also includes PCC libraries of varying sizes, some archives, ILS vendors, OCLC
  • RDA itself and compared to AACR2
  • Feasibility of creating bibliographic data and populating MARC record
  • Workflow and time comparison to AACR2
  • Determination of possible changes to MARC to accommodate data created using RDA
  • Financial impact of training, workflow, and workflow adjustments
  • Usability: for catalogers, by systems, ability of users to locate desired information
  • Co-existence of RDA and AACR2 records
  • Integration between online product and other tools
  • System development needed for implementation
controversies questions considerations
Controversies, questions, considerations …
  • Cost and accessibility of online product
  • Too radical or not radical enough?
  • Drafts have been difficult to understand and inconsistent
  • Has FRBR been tested enough?
  • FRBR model doesn’t apply equally well to all types of materials
  • WoGroFuBiCo’s recommendation to suspend work on RDA
controversies questions considerations1
Controversies, questions, considerations …
  • Internationalization vs. Anglo-American membership on JSC
  • Flexibility and adaptability vs. specificity and detail
  • Break with the past vs. compatibility with legacy data
  • Simplicity and ease of use vs. length and FRBR jargon
  • What is OCLC going to do?
  • … and others (see blogs, lists, and other resources for more information)
current timeline
Current timeline
  • Full draft released in PDF November 17, 2008
  • Comment period on full draft ends February 2, 2009
  • JSC compiles comments at March 2009 meeting
  • RDA content finalized 2nd quarter 2009
  • RDA release, 3rd quarter 2009
  • Testing by national libraries, 3rd-4th quarters 2009
  • Analysis and evaluation of testing by national libraries, 1st-2nd quarters 2010
  • Implementation? 3rd-4th quarters 2010
rda implementation task force
RDA Implementation Task Force
  • Chair, Dr. Shawne Miksa
  • Planning training and continuing education
  • Look for a preconference and a program at ALA Annual in Chicago
  • Coordination with regional service providers, regional and state library associations
  • Train the trainer and “road show” speakers
selected resources
Selected resources

what should i be doing right now
What should I be doing right now?
  • Get familiar with FRBR and RDA terminology
  • Explore the RDA website and other resources—official and unofficial
  • Watch discussion lists and blogs for discussions and updates
  • Ask questions, talk with colleagues, participate in the online discussions
  • Submit comments to JSC
  • Keep an open mind
  • Be prepared for change, even if RDA dies
  • And, most importantly…
  • Diane Hillmann
  • Heidi Hoerman
  • Shawne Miksa
  • Tami Morse McGill
  • Nanette Naught/Chris Oliver
  • Glenn Patton
  • Barbara Tillett
  • Bloggers: Christine Schwartz, Karen Coyle, William Denton, Karen G. Schneider


Thanks for attending!

Contact me at or 307-766-2433