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RDA May 31, 2009

Posted by Mia in cataloguing, FRAD, FRBR, Resource Description and Access.

On Friday I attended the full day pre-conference session in Montreal on RDA with some FRBR and FRAD thrown in. I wanted to hear Tom Delsey before he exits as the editor of RDA, and he drew out some of the major differences between AACR and RDA.

Although the RDA online tool still is not yet ready for prime time, there was a tantalizing demo which no doubt created more questions than answers.  While it promises to be a sophisticated tool, the learning curve may be substantial, which will certainly be an unfortunate distraction. However, it appears that by the time the product makes its actual debut,  there may be some  prefab workflows that are plug-and-play — at least, I hope so.  The ability to customize things will be great, but of course, that can only come later — you first have to gain some familiarity with the product, and understand the nature of the exercise.

Cataloguers don’t start from total scratch, and a content standard is not a self-contained universe without any reference points in the real world. We progress through a series of fact-checking exercises which emanate from our cataloguing assumptions, and we carry out these exercises according to various norms and conventions.

When we have identified a creator of a work and postulate a name for said creator, our conjecture will be checked by a lookup against other sources — e.g., authority files or bibliographic databases – including the parent institution’s catalogue– to see if our assumptions can be validated against other existing known entities —  other publications, or characteristics that we associate with the creator (birthplace or other factual info, for example), etc.

We first try to find an anchor, something that we know, and build upon that. So the case studies that will help illuminate the process (and highlight some of the difficulties) should progress from a variety of straight-forward simple scenarios and increase in complexity (e.g., music).