Revolutionizing cataloguing – implementing RDA!

There’s been a revolution in cataloguing! Since 2010, RDA (Resource Description and Access) has been the new international standard for description. It was developed over many years through the cooperation of institutions such as Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the Library of Congress, the British National Library, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, and other national and international committees (LAC employees sit on the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, for example). Implementation of RDA began at LAC in late 2012 and is still ongoing, involving the entire cataloguing section. This has included hundreds of hours of training sessions, meetings, individual research and reading, and informal team discussions and consultations as we have to rethink a lot of our policies and practices to adapt to the new philosophies and rules for description represented in RDA.

So, what’s so different about RDA?

There have always been standards and rules for description of course. But the rules we were using were developed before the advent of the multitude of formats that are now collected by and available in modern libraries. This has forced cataloguers to try to treat everything like a printed book. You can imagine how frustrating that was at times! On top of that, the old rules were designed to help cataloguers fit all the essential information on a 3” by 5” card that was filed in a card catalogue drawer. This meant abbreviating words, omitting non-essential information, and making decisions based on the placement of information on the physical card. Now with online catalogues, linked data, and international databases available with the click of a mouse, we need to rethink how we do things. Some of this involves physically changing how the information is presented in the catalogue record (for example, RDA eliminates abbreviations unless they appear on the item itself). Other changes focus on thinking differently about the relationships between the content, the physical item (what we call the “carrier”), and the people involved in creating both.

What hasn’t changed?

As always, our goal is to create a bibliographic record for an item that accurately and thoroughly describes both the physical item and the content it holds, and allows users of our catalogue the best possible access to the item and our collection. The employees in the cataloguing section are committed to creating useful, accurate, credible metadata that is used by libraries across the country, and in international databases. RDA may be changing the “how” of cataloguing, but not the “why!”

Useful links:

2 thoughts on “Revolutionizing cataloguing – implementing RDA!

  1. Great article, interesting, useful, and informative… Thanks…

    Check out RDA Blog (http://resourcedescriptionandaccess.blogspot.com).

    It may be included in the “Useful links” of this article.

    RDA Blog is a blog on Resource Description and Access (RDA), a new library cataloging standard that provides instructions and guidelines on formulating data for resource description and discovery, organized based on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), intended for use by libraries and other cultural organizations replacing Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR2). This blog lists description and links to resources on Resource Description & Access (RDA). It is an attempt to bring together at one place all the useful and important information, rules, references, news, and links on Resource Description and Access, FRBR, FRAD, FRSAD, MARC standards, AACR2, BIBFRAME, and other items related to current developments and trends in library cataloging practice.

    RDA Blog in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_Description_and_Access#RDA_blog

    An article on RDA Blog, published in Technical Services Quarterly, journal on library technical services published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Online) : http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07317131.2014.908641

    About RDA Blog: http://resourcedescriptionandaccess.blogspot.com/p/about-this-blog.html

    RDA Blog Testimonials: http://resourcedescriptionandaccess.blogspot.com/p/testimonials.html

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