RDA Toolkit, updates from ALA and beyond
This is the second blog post reporting on ALA Annual at Anaheim, with some information from webinars attended since I returned. The first post is here.
I’ve been writing up all my notes from ALA to compile these blog posts and sorting them thematically. However, the RDA Toolkit seemed to want to have a post all to itself, especially since I’ve attended two RDA Toolkit Essentials webinars since the conference and felt I wanted to combine everything I’d learned.
In 2011, I spoke at the CILIP Executive Briefing on RDA and co-moderated the CIG e-forum on RDA and from both of these events I know that my place of work was one of very few UK libraries with a subscription to the RDA Toolkit at that time. However, at the informal discussion with a handful of RLUK members last month, there seemed to be more people with a subscription or planning to get one in the next year. So this might be a useful time in the UK at least to round up some information on the RDA Toolkit. Also, if your institution is planning to get a subscription soon, the BOGOF double user offer is still in place until August 31st, if you can make use of it.
Lest this start to sound like an advert for the Toolkit, I am aware that the existence of the RDA Toolkit is itself one of the big controversies of RDA, the argument is extremely well made elsewhere (for example, by @orangeaurochs) so I won’t repeat them here. I have to say I am in agreement about RDA being a closed standard and the implications of the cost of the Toolkit for smaller libraries. It is what it is though, and isn’t going to change. The Toolkit also came in for criticism from cataloguers who took part in the US National Test which led to a number of recommendations for improvements in the final report.
The business model was in place long before the people working on the Toolkit (the online tool rather than the content of the RDA text) started that work and I wanted to give them credit for what they’ve done since the US National Test to address the issues and to reach out to the cataloguing community as much as possible. If you haven’t had the chance to look at the Toolkit since the first trial access, then you might notice quite a lot of new features.
All of the recommendations from the US Test for improvements and enhancements to the RDA Toolkit have already been implemented. There has also been a lot of work on developing and promoting mechanisms for input and involvement from users. There is a mailing list, a blog, a Twitter account but I’m more impressed by all the ways they try to enable interaction and communication which came across in the talks Troy Linker gave at ALA but also in the webinars.
For newcomers to the Toolkit, the RDA Toolkit Essentials webinars (held every other month) are extremely useful and they are also developing some video training. I’d recommend the Essentials webinar, it’s only an hour and they are archived so you can watch at a time convenient to you if you prefer. I attended again in July to refresh my memory and see all the new developments and it was worthwhile. I also attended the Virtual User Group, which gives online previews of enhancements and aims to create two-way dialogue with attendees by dealing with questions and polling for opinion. These webinars are held 3-4 times a year but there’s also a Development blog to continue seeking input and encouraging dialogue. The Virtual User Group webinars are also archived if you want to find out more about recent enhancements such as the update history, improved metadata for the workflows, the logout button (FINALLY!) and the incredibly useful full RDA record examples (currently in MARC but with non-MARC also coming). You also learn about what they are working on: French, German and Spanish translations, improved integration with the RDA Registry, locally shareable bookmarks, mobile version.
The rewording of RDA for clarity and consistency (another recommendation fromt he US Test) is well underway and the first five reworded chapters (2, 6, 9-11) will be available in the Toolkit by December 2012, with the remaining reworded chapters released as available. The intention is that all the reworded chapters will be in the Toolkit by mid-2013. The print version of RDA will be updated no later than December 2012 with the April 2012 RDA update and the first batch of reworded chapters, a whole new edition will be issued as the majority of the pages of the looseleaf would have needed replacement.
For those lucky enough to work in institutions who will be able to subscribe to the RDA Toolkit, I hope the information here proves helpful.
Also useful: The LC Training modules include Using the RDA Toolkit (PDF) (see the Training section on the right-hand side of the page).