AACR Move Over! Here Comes RDA!

Here is the companion article to “In Appreciation of Library Catalogers and Cataloging Standards” posted by me 7/23/09. At the end of that article I wrote that I had asked Joni Cassidy to consider writing an article for this blog that woud explore RDA in greater depth. Joni agreed, I am proud to present to you the article below prepared by Joni and two senior members of her staff at Cassidy Cataloging Services.

David Badertscher

AACR Move Over! Here Comes RDA!

By Joni L. Cassidy, Paula J. Perry, Donna Rosinski Kauz,
Cassidy Cataloguing Services, Inc.

First, our heartfelt thanks to David for defending the utility of catalogs and the work of catalogers. It is good to hear from an Administrator who understands and appreciates the value of controlled vocabularies and targeted access points, and doesn’t believe the myth that “keyword searching on the Internet” will solve all information needs.

Executive Summary –

RDA stands for “Resource Description and Access.”
It will replace the AACR2, “Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed.”, as The Cataloger’s Bible.
The draft version is available for review now, but adoption dates are uncertain.

The emphasis of this new cataloguing code is to help users find the information they seek, to somewhat simplify the descriptive cataloguing process, and to support the conceptual model known as FRBR, “Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Data.”

Unlike AACR2 which focuses first on the format of the item-in-hand to be cataloged, FRBR focuses first on the elements describing the work and its creator, followed by the format, then the description, and, finally, the item details such as copy number or barcodes. For the cataloger, it will be somewhat of a reversal of the intellectual process of creating a catalog record.

Perhaps the most important question is: “Will law libraries continue to require the services of Technical Services Librarians?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Whether we are called “Catalogers” or “Metadata Specialists” or “Technical Services Professionals”, our skill-set will be essential to the successful information-gathering of the end-user. Plans are well underway to re-educate the practitioners.

If you work in the Technical Services sector, you’ve probably been reading about the RDA, or Resource Description and Access, for quite some time. But, if you work in Administration or Public Services, you may be reading about it here for the first time. So, we will begin at the beginning: the RDA is, in essence, the AACR3 or Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 3rd edition. It is meant to be the “cataloguing standard for the 21st century”. It is a new code that is written to put a stronger emphasis on helping users “find, identify, select and obtain” the information they are looking for, chiefly through the use of clustering of bibliographic records.

Clustering is based on a new conceptual model developed by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) nicknamed FRBR. That stands for “Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Data” and it is pronounced FER-BER. A FRBR record shows the relationship between a work and its creator, as well as relationships with any translations, interpretations, adaptations, or physical formats of that same work. The four sections of the FRBR record are referred to as: “work”, “expression”, “manifestation” and “item”.

For example, in a FRBR-ized catalog, a search for Inherit the Wind, for example, might yield several clusters: book editions, film, stage plays, etc. and each cluster might have sub-clusters: book translations, or DVD and VHS editions. Although RDA focuses on the information describing a resource, and NOT how to display the information, the two are, of course, intertwined.

RDA emphasizes “taking what you see” on the resource, and making a number of cataloging choices based on the form found in the first resource received (cataloged). Catalogers will have the flexibility to create a devised title for a compilation that lacks a collective title.

RDA lifts the limitations set by AACR2 in many areas. Here is a partial list:
1) Transcribing the entire statement of responsibility, no matter how many persons or bodies it contains.
2) Including “other title” information.
3) The number of added entries for collections of works by different persons or bodies.
4) Added entries for all parties on each side of a Treaty.

There are a number of changes in RDA regarding “Headings for Persons,” or how to cite a person’s name. A few notables: Terms indicating relationship, such as “Jr.”, are treated as part of the name, if there are variant spellings of a person’s name, choose the form found in the first resource received (cataloged), for compound surnames, refer to IFLA’s “Names of persons…”

Abbreviations will be replaced by fully spelled out words and phrases:
v. (loose-leaf) becomes volumes (loose-leaf)
p. becomes pages ill. becomes illustrations cent. becomes century
ca. becomes approximately
Latin abbreviations will be abandoned in favor of natural-language phrases:
s.l. becomes place of publication not identified s.n. becomes publisher not identified
This means that each cataloging community will have to re-create records in their own language since standardization (sometimes in the form of Latin) will no longer apply.

“Some things will never change.” Up until now, that could be said of the standard ISBD punctuation originally designed to identify each data element on a catalog card and carried forward in time by the MARC formats. The RDA proposes to make ISBD punctuation optional, but has included information on presenting RDA-data in an ISBD display in Appendix D.

Moving away from the ISBD standard in electronic records allows libraries to have more flexibility in the record exchange formats that can be accepted by their library software systems. The MARC format could be reconfigured to work without the ISBD punctuation. Other record exchange formats, such as Dublin Core and ONIX, can already accept information that does not include the use of ISBD punctuation. Removing the expectation of a display that looks similar to a catalog card would allow software designers more latitude in the presentation of information.

It’s not yet clear how (or how soon) the OPAC and ILS vendors will begin incorporating RDA and FRBR elements into their software and displays. Furthermore, it’s also not clear how soon the Library of Congress and OCLC will adopt the new standards. We do know that 26 testing partners have been selected to participate formally in the Library of Congress’ planned test of the content and functionality of RDA. The final report from this group is expected 9-12 months from now.

We’ve begun to see baby-steps of forward motion. There is a new Specific Material Designation of “online resource” to be used in the MARC 300 field. This is already in use in the recently approved “Provider-Neutral Record Guidelines.”

The development and use of RDA and FRBR hold promise for a more facile information discovery process, but system developers and software designers will need to implement the new standards and will need to design products that take full advantage of the information that will be available in records following the RDA standard and FRBR concepts.

There have been discussions on Autocat, the worldwide cataloger’s listserv, recently about results being retrieved using www.worldcat.org, OCLC’s free Internet version of its own bibliographical database, that show holdings for titles that libraries do not actually possess, and the problem seems to be related to a FRBR grouping of different editions and different carriers of information. The libraries might hold the item as a microform, but they are listed as holding the item as a book. Understandably, this leads to problems with ILL requests, among other issues.

From: An Academic Librarian Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 9:55 AM To: OCLC-CAT@OCLC.ORG [The OCLC Cataloger’s Listserv]
Subject: Discrepancies between actual holdings and displays
I’m just curious because this problem has come up twice within the last week. The first situation was someone finding a book in worldcat.org that said we had a copy, but there was nothing in our ILS. When I went into OCLC Connexion Client and searched by the OCLC number, there were no holdings attached to the record. I couldn’t find any other record for the book to which holdings were attached, either.

The second situation is similar, but the holdings were showing in the OCLC Resource Sharing product. I again searched through OCLC Connexion Client and didn’t find any instance of us having holdings attached. I also double checked this title in worldcat.org to see if there was a link between the two situations, but couldn’t find any records with our holdings attached.

From: A Rare Book Librarian To: OCLC-CAT@OCLC.ORG
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 1:18 PM Subject: Re: Discrepancies between actual holdings and displays
What you are experiencing is the “FRBRized” display in “OCLC WorldCat” which groups all editions and formats under one record as “holdings”. To “deFRBRize” you need to click on the very tiny link “Show libraries holding *just this edition*”. As a rare book library we find this feature incredibly frustrating and misleading. One of the rare book curators and I spent two hours trying to track down a rare Italian translation of a classical work that he thought we were matched to, though we had no copy in our OPAC. Turns out that our *microform* copy of the original LATIN text from a different year was what was showing up on the “OCLC WorldCat” display.

From: The Same Academic Librarian To: OCLC-CAT@OCLC.ORG
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 2:48 PM Subject: Re: Discrepancies between actual holdings and displays
Thank you to everyone who responded. It appears that the FRBR “feature” in Worldcat is the culprit, and I’ve informed our instruction librarian. I can’t imagine how challenging a situation this will be for us as more and more students start their research on Google and are directed to Worldcat.org (OCLC’s free Internet version). It seems to me like it should work the other way around: users click on a specific manifestation that they want and then have the option to search for all other manifestations. The way it works now is just misleading and frustrating for users who are actually sure exactly which manifestation they want.


Click here to see an example of an FRBR record taken from http://www.loc.gov/marc/marc-functional-analysis/frbr-mid.html, which is a Library of Congress site. FRBR will allow library OPAC displays to show the relationships among works and expressions with multiple manifestations, e.g.,

OCLC needs to refine their information-parsing in order to improve the searching results, which demonstrates the need for software developers to work proactively toward utilizing the promise of RDA and FRBR in terms of information retrieval. Libraries that are still using a card catalog will find the new standards not integrating easily with their current model, and may need to continue using AACR2 and ISBD punctuation as it currently exists, which may create a barrier to sharing resources and using cataloging copy records.

Meanwhile, plans are in motion for the national libraries in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia to take the lead in re-tooling catalogers and metadata specialists. Other training initiatives will come from the Program for Cooperative Cataloging Training Committee, the RDA Outreach Group, and the American Library Association’s RDA Implementation Task Force.

Bibliographic references:

Quotations in this article are from the brochure “RDA, Resource Description and Access: the cataloging standard for the 21st century” http://www.rda-jsc.org/docs/rdabrochure-eng.pdf and the Joint Steering Committee for the Development of RDA website http://www.rda-jsc.org/rda.html and the Joint Steering Committee FAQ website http://www.rda-jsc.org/rdafaq.html#4-5.

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