RDA in Europe: or the implementation domino effect

I have already briefly discussed the RDA in Europe seminar I attended last month. However, since the presentations have now been made available online, I wanted to return to add a little bit more detail to that initial report. The seminar covered a huge amount of ground so I’m just going to point to a few of the things I found most interesting or useful and then provide links to the presentations themselves for anyone interested in the full shebang. The most useful links were the ones I gave in my first post, since they link to real examples of how records may look using RDA and comparing differences between AACR2 and RDA for those (like me) who like practical examples.

For those who would like an overview of the reasons behind, history and overall development of RDA, the introductory talk by Alan Danskin (from the British Library chair of the Joint Steering Committee, JSC) is a useful starting point. One of the most interesting points he made was that RDA should be viewed as a floor rather than a ceiling – that cataloguers would be able to add to a record, provide more than is called for in RDA, as long as the record fulfils the basic requirements of RDA.

Providing a kind of bookend talk to Alan’s was Caroline Brazier, who spoke about the need for change in the governance structure that lies behind AACR2 and now RDA. Her presentation gave some helpful diagrams to explain the rather convoluted structure currently in place but this was all created when AACR2 were truly “Anglo-American” and the high level of interest demonstrated by the European countries attending the event show that there will need to be some more to become more inclusive of other countries and constituencies in future.

There is a huge amount of information about the various plans/discussions/activities going on in all the European countries with regard to RDA implementation/investigation/translation. For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the various country talks was learning what cataloguing codes, authority files and encoding systems were used in each country at the moment. The level of enthusiasm for RDA and, perhaps more significantly, for a move away from the national and towards the truly international adoption of standards was very heartening. Whatever may happen with the implementation (or otherwise) of RDA, there is a real appetite now for people to create records that are interoperable, accessible, standardised. It makes me appreciate how far we’ve already moved in this direction in the 12 years since I first started cataloguing – it’s easy to lose sight of that but it is true.

The French cataloguers seem quite sceptical about aspects of the new code and explicitly stated that they feel it is still too anglo-centric. They were particularly unhappy with what they feel is “loose, limited reference to” ISBD. Germany seems to have made the most progress towards a translation of the text of RDA (a major issue for all the European countries as well as Canada) as well as in their move towards possible implementation.

For those who mainly catalogue items in English, then the most useful talks were undoubtedly the ones about implementation in the various English-speaking countries and the overview of the US testing process.

Barbara Tillett of LC spoke about the plans of the various English-speaking countries: Australia (the only country to officialy state they will be adopting RDA), Canada (which requires a full French translation before they would be in a position to implement RDA) and the UK. I learned something new in the discussion of the UK: there had been some general beta testing planned in various UK libraries but now the BL is setting up its own test and will be making the results of this public. Barbara stated that the response in the UK to RDA has been “muted” and that the decision about implementation will not be taken on a national level but rather on an institutional level. Essentially, the BL is waiting to see what happens at LC and then everyone else in the UK is waiting to see what happens at the BL.

Beacher Wiggins presentation on the US RDA testing process is well worth reading if you have any interest in RDA. Not least because LC have created a vast amount of training material, examples, test files and documentation (linked to on my earlier post) which is publicly available and extremely useful when thinking about the practicalities of RDA. The test starts in October until the end of December. Then the test results will be analysed in the period January-March 2011, with the aim that the US national libraries will make a final decision about implementation in the period April-June 2011 – in time to announce it at the ALA Annual conference.

Possibly the most practical and useful session was the overview of the RDA Toolkit, presented by Troy Linker with Barbara Tillett of LC giving a hands-on demonstration of various features. This talk isn’t available online, sadly. For anyone who has taken out a subscription to the RDA Toolkit for this year (are there many who have? we have one here in Cambridge), here are some of the interesting features:

  • Bookmarks can be added and can be made visible in the main text of RDA (or hidden from view). They are working on sharing bookmarks (either globally or across an institutional subscription) but this is still under development.
  • There is a print function which will allow printing of whole sections of RDA if required
  • The saved search function allows the user to set up a sophisticated set of search parameters in the Advanced Search window (selecting which documents to search, including/excluding examples, searching only certain work/issuance/media/content types or specific RDA instruction numbers) and then name this as a saved search to be retrieved on another occasion (it appears in My Profile).
  • Workflows are worth investigating (Tools>Workflows). These are step-by-step processes for creating records using RDA. Users can create their own (copying and modifying an existing one to edit it if necessary) which can be shared either globally or with all users from the same institution. Good examples are the CONSER standard record workflow and all the workflows submitted by LC staff – extremely useful working documents and something I am thinking about adapting/building on as part of our local training if we end up adopting RDA in my library.
  • As well as the ability to create workflows with links to AACR2 and RDA, there is also the facility to embed links to RDA from Word documents or intranet documentation. Troy admits that the copy & paste function is not very good and makes it difficult to paste chunks of RDA into Word so the “embedding” function is meant to replace that (make of that what you will…).
  • On the RDA Toolkit home page, there is a section on Teaching & Training (http://www.rdatoolkit.org/training) which includes links to webinars and also has a training calendar where everyone is encouraged to their own training events. More information will be added to this training area over time.

Overall it was a really enjoyable one-day seminar, in the beautiful Black Diamond (as the Royal Library building is known) and one of the best things was the opportunity to talk about cataloguing with people from all over Europe. I’m such a geek.



7 comments so far

  1. Orangeaurochs on

    “that cataloguers would be able to add to a record, provide more than is called for in RDA, as long as the record fulfils the basic requirements of RDA.”

    That certainly is an interesting point. I sometimes wonder if my brain is not thinking conceptually about cataloguing in the right way any more, especially given the continued provision of options and alternatives. I would have thought the need for consistent sharable computer processable records would not encourage such creativity.

    Thank you for the summary. I also like the line “Essentially, the BL is waiting to see what happens at LC and then everyone else in the UK is waiting to see what happens at the BL.”

    BTW, we’re in the process of subscribing to the Toolkit although how much we actually implement it is very much dependent on the waiting and seeing you mention.

  2. Céline on

    Yes, that’s implementation dominos for you! Everyone is waiting for someone else to fall first. And if LC go, then I think the BL will go, which means we will probably go…. and so on.

    Yes, I think there is more cataloguer’s judgement than ever before. They explicitly said that the reduction in the number of LCRIs from nearly 500 to fewer than 200 LCPSeseses was because of a move towards more cataloguer’s judgement. And agreed, that has implications of its own.

    We’re subscribed to Toolkit but also just playing the wait and see game for at least this year.

  3. carolslib on

    We’re all waiting. Some are chaffing at the bit, some are dragging their feet, but all are waiting. It is an interesting time to be here in cataloging. Thank you for a good overview of what is happening in Europe (or not happening or waiting to happen). Wonder if the domino will be pushed?

  4. Céline on

    Thank you for your comment.

    I find it hard to imagine that the domino won’t be pushed somewhere – I’ll be genuinely surprised if LC/the US national libraries decide against implementation but I could be proved wrong. It’s an interesting but very odd time.

    It’s only now that we fully appreciate how interdependent the whole cataloguing system is. It’s very difficult for anyone to move independently, as so few people do mostly original in-house cataloguing.

  5. Enrico F on

    I love when you say:

    “The level of enthusiasm for RDA and, perhaps more significantly, for a move away from the national and towards the truly international
    adoption of standards was very heartening”

    Yes, that’s the core point. Information is worldwide, so information science cannot be bound to local habits anymore. Common efforts must be made. I long for this to happen!

    Good post, and yes, you’re a geek, but ain’t that lovely when you have fun and excitement doing your job? 🙂

    All the best

  6. Anna Martin on

    This is very interesting indeed. I suggest that you do indeed keep on bloging please as you know things that are useful to us to learn eg the state of RDA discussions etc.

  7. […] AutoCat members speak about waiting to see what the USA will be doing.  Céline noted on Thing Blogging that Europe as a whole is looking, waiting, and watching.  Another international concern is the […]

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