Monday, December 15, 2014
Resource Description and Access for ZULC members
I had an opportunity to attend a presentation on Resource Description and Access (RDA) organized by the Zimbabwe University Libraries Consortium (ZULC) recently. The presenters; Charlie Molepo and Mandisa Lakheni, were from Universal knowledge Software (UKS) an innovative company providing sophisticated library and archival products. At this presentation I got an opportunity to meet Charlie, whom I had met at the 48th ZimLA Conference in Victoria Falls were he presented on the various libraries and archival software and training services they offer. Besides, he had an exquisite exhibition and distributed very attractive mugs. (I will always remember him for these ones.)
Anyway, RDA according to the Joint Steering Committee for the Development of RDA was developed to replace the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd Edition Revised, which were first published in 1978. The OCLC website reported that The Library of Congress announced full implementation of RDA in March 31, 2013. Initially, RDA was envisioned as a third edition of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, and was accordingly called AACR3, but in an effort to emphasize the break from the past it was renamed to RDA, according to Coyle and Hillmann (2007). Miksa (2009) maintains that “The principal goal of the new rules is to facilitate resource discovery through library catalogs in a more consistent and powerful way than is currently possible with AACR2.” According to Coyle and Hillmann (2007), RDA is being presented by the JSC as a change in practice that will position libraries for the electronic age.
Oliver (2007) cited in Miksa (2009) points out that “RDA is a content standard, not a display standard and not a metadata schema. RDA is a set of guidelines that indicates how to describe a resource, focusing on the pieces of information (or attributes) that a user is most likely to need to know. It also encourages the description of relationships between related resources and between resources and persons or bodies that contributed to creation of that resource.” An important component of RDA discussed as the conceptual model is FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) and FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data). To get a good understanding of FRBR and FRAD reading an article by Mark K. Ehlert titled RDA: Building Blocks would help.
The presentation by Charlie Molepo and Mandisa Lakheni was insightful in that it discussed the reasons to replace AACR2 which I found convincing. Among the reasons given by Charlie Molepo and Mandisa Lakheni are that the internet caused an exponential growth in resource format, we are no longer using card catalogues, we have more information carriers than before, technology is growing every day and the biggest of all, AACR2 was developed in the era of the card catalogue. In this regard, Coyle and Hillmann (2007) stated that “The early cataloging rules, dating back to the catalog of the British Museum in 1841, evolved primarily to handle textual, published resources.” It therefore means that as information sources change formats mainly caused by the digital environment and the internet.
Charlie Molepo and Mandisa Lakheni further discussed how RDA works in a real setting. They mentioned that RDA simplifies the process of transcription by taking what you see on the resource, and eliminating many of the AACR2 rules that instruct cataloguers to alter the data that they are transcribing to abbreviations. Basically, UKS presenters observed that the new elements being added to RDA solve problems with demonstrated in AACR2. Whilst explaining the simplicity of RDA over AACR2 Mandisa highlighted that cataloguers are expected to write every detail in full, in contrast to the use of abbreviations in AACR2; for instance Second edition and not 2nd ed.. The basic rule, as I understood it in RDA is writing everything in full. On the other hand the main difference I noticed is that RDA is designed for the web environment whilst AACR2 does not match the web environment.
A few disadvantages of RDA were highlighted by Mandisa which included the initial implementation is costly due to subscription and training; the RDA toolkit needs to be made available on all computers and all cataloguing records need to be converted from AACR2 to RDA, however this is not mandatory; library staff require training to acquire skills on how to use RDA and institutions must pay a subscription rate to use the RDA Toolkit online. There is a contention that RDA may also inherit short falls of AACR2 were it has its roots. Coyle and Hillmann (2007) stated that , “The challenges of this rapidly changing environment may be more than the developers of RDA can accommodate, given the firmness of their ties to AACR.”
Basically this is it. I could have gone on and on writing about RDA stuff I learnt but you can find out more on the Internet. A simple Google search for ‘Resource Description and Access’ can yield good hits which are all good reads. And visit the OCLC web site for training materials.
Coyle, K., and Hillmann, D. (2007). Resource Description and Access (RDA): Cataloging Rules for the 20th Century. D-Lib Magazine, 13(1/2). Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january07/coyle/01coyle.html
Miksa, S. D. (2009). Resource Description and Access (RDA) and New Research Potentials. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 35(5). Retrieved December 10, 2014, from https://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Jun-09/JunJul09_Miksa.pdf
Molepo, C., and Lakheni, M. (2014). RDA Information Session held in Harare. Harare, Zimbabwe.