Updated January 2012
RDA: Resource Description and Access is the descriptive cataloguing standard designed to replace AACR2. It was published in 2010.
RDA has many of the strengths of AACR2 but its new features will make it more useful for description in the digital environment.
RDA was developed by two international bodies: the Joint Steering Committee for RDA (JSC) and the Committee of Principals (CoP).
The JSC (www.rda-jsc.org/index.html) is responsible for the development of RDA and for consulting with stakeholder groups. Membership of the JSC is drawn from the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing (CCC), the American Library Association (ALA), the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), the Australian Committee on Cataloguing (ACOC), the British Library and the Library of Congress.
CCC, the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing (www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/cataloguing-standards/040006-3000-e.html) represents the interests of Canadian libraries on the JSC. The Canadian Committee on Cataloguing is represented on the JSC by Library and Archives Canada.
The JSC reports to the CoP, which is responsible for broad policy, budget and management issues. The CoP comprises representatives from the Canadian Library Association, American Library Association, CILIP, the Library of Congress, Library and Archives Canada, the British Library, and the National Library of Australia.
The co-publishers of RDA are the American Library Association, the Canadian Library Association and in the U.K., the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). The RDA Toolkit has been produced under contract with ALA.
Library and Archives Canada will implement RDA no sooner than early 2013. LAC will coordinate implementation of RDA with the British Library, the Library of Congress and the National Library of Australia.
Information on the RDA Toolkit is available at www.rdatoolkit.org
A subscription model has been developed by the co-publishers: American Library Association, Canadian Library Association and the Chartered Institute of Library and information Professionals (U.K.). Pricing details are available at www.rdatoolkit.org/pricing.
The Association pour l'avancement des sciences et des techniques de la documentation (ASTED) is coordinating the translation activity and working with LAC, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) and other partners to develop the French translation.
Each library will need to decide when they will implement RDA. RDA implementation will typically include training of staff, and potentially a review of existing cataloguing workflows and policy decisions.
Conversion of existing records will generally not be necessary, as records created using RDA are intended to integrate with AACR2 records in existing databases. Global updating of headings will be required in a few cases. For example, there will be changes to the structure of Bible uniform titles, and the abbreviated word "Dept". will be spelled out in full. The JSC has kept these changes to a minimum.
Changes to MARC21 have been made to accommodate new RDA data elements. Libraries will need to consult with their library system vendor about the vendor's plans to accommodate RDA changes.
Library systems will need to support the creation and exchange of RDA data. Systems vendors are aware of this impending change, chiefly requiring the accommodation of MARC21 changes. These MARC changes will need to be incorporated by vendors into the cataloguing modules of library systems to enable the import and/or export of bibliographic and authority records. Changes will also be required to indexes in library systems to allow for the search and display of new data elements.
Conversion of existing records will generally not be necessary as records created using RDA are intended to integrate with AACR2 records in existing databases. However, global updating of headings will be required in a few cases, for example the headings for "Bible" will change in RDA and also headings for corporate names that include the abbreviation "Dept."
It is hoped that eventually library systems and Online Public Access Catalogs (OPAC) will evolve to take full advantage of the data created using RDA, with its underlying Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) structure of work, expression, manifestation and item. These changes will improve the ease and effectiveness with which users are able to find, identify and obtain the resources they need. For example, resources in a variety of formats such as print, online, microform, sound recording might be grouped for display purposes to show they belong to a particular work or expression, allowing users to view and navigate between related works much more easily. However, realistically, given the time required for system developments, these changes might not be a reality for several years.
Decisions on which RDA options and alternatives LAC will follow will be made in conjunction with the other anglo-american national libraries and BAnQ to minimize differences in practice. Similarly, LAC will work with the national libraries on decisions regarding retrospective changes in legacy headings, with the aim of keeping these to a minimum.
LAC will incorporate MARC21 changes in its library system, AMICUS.
More information on LAC implementation plans will be posted as it becomes available.
Records created using RDA are intended to integrate with AACR2 records in existing databases. Once RDA has been implemented, the Union Catalogue will be able to receive MARC records from Canadian libraries reflecting both AACR and RDA cataloguing rules.
The JSC Website (www.rda-jsc.org/rdapresentations.html) has links to a number of useful presentations made on RDA.
There are several things Canadian libraries can do to prepare for RDA.
Like other libraries, LAC's implementation of RDA will include training of its staff as well as a review of cataloguing workflows and policy decisions. LAC will not deliver training to libraries across Canada but will make any documentation that is developed available on the LAC website. LAC is working with the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing and the Canadian Library Association's Technical Services Network.