Archive for the ‘ALA’ Category

What I learned at ALA: final round-up

This is the third, much-belated, blog post reporting on ALA Annual at Anaheim. There is more RDA-related information from ALA in my first post on the international aspects and second post on the RDA Toolkit.

This post has taken a long time to finish, largely because of the sheer volume of information I’m trying to encompass. Over five days at ALA, I attended RDA-related sessions almost without interruption from 8am until 5pm and I filled pages and pages with useful notes. I have used things that I learned during the conference almost every working day since I got back at the end of June. However, trying to distil all of into the most useful information to share was a big task.

When I wrote my application for the John Campbell Trust conference travel bursary, I explained how what I wanted to learn from attending ALA and also how I intended to share this with the wider UK cataloguing community. Writing the blog posts has been a big part of that but I also planned to speak at the 2012 Cataloguing & Indexing Group (CIG) conference on September 10th-11th in Sheffield. I saw this as a way of reaching as wide an audience as possible both at the conference itself, through the reports of attendees to their colleague or in their own blog posts, as well as reaching a broader audience on Twitter and by making my presentation available on the CIG website afterwards. My presentation formed part of an RDA forum. The end product of all that distillation to acquire the essence of “RDA@ALA” is the CIG presentation and handout, which I hope has been useful to people. I have tried to group the information together thematically and to assume very little prior knowledge of RDA developments, though there is a lot of further information available from the various links on the handout.

One update since I prepared the handout, the talk about the Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative given by Eric Miller at ALA was later repeated for Library of Congress staff and a recording of this LC talk is now available from the LC website.

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).

Getting the international view of RDA at ALA

This is the first of my blog posts reporting on my attendance at ALA Annual in Anaheim in June. I came home with a huge amount of notes, links to follow and new information. Since I got back, I’ve been to RDA meetings, given a FRBR workshop, met with the RDA group in my workplace, started work on our local training needs and had many conversations in real life and online about RDA training and implementation. My experiences at ALA have informed all of this activity. However, a big part of what I wanted to achieve by attending ALA (thanks to the John Campbell Trust conference bursary) was to share what I learned with as many people as possible, so I’m going to do this through a series of blog posts here.

I’ve grouped my notes thematically rather than writing up each session as I attended pretty much everything I could on RDA (and even then there were scheduling clashes which meant I couldn’t get to everything) and there was a certain amount of overlap. I’m also including links to handouts and further information wherever available.

I’m going to start not at the beginning but rather with the ALCTS program RDA Worldwide, because it seems an apt place to start. At ALA, I was an ‘international’ attendee, with a special registration desk, a special orientation and an international reception. It’s rare I get to feel exotic and foreign, so this was all good. In terms of RDA developments – particularly to do with training and general discussion – it can feel that much more is happening in the US than it is in the UK (or in many other parts of the world) and yet RDA is intended to operate in an international arena. This program demonstrated this and provided a welcome look beyond the American or Anglo-American cataloguing world.

Christine Frodl’s talk on the work done in German cataloguing over the last few years to move from national to international standards was quite impressive. In 2009, German cataloguing moved to using MARC21 and they see RDA as part of this internationalisation of their cataloguing practices. From the EURIG meeting in 2010, I knew that Germany was following RDA developments very closely, commenting on proposals and working on a translation. Since then, Moodle training modules have been developed in FRBR, FRAD and basic RDA cataloguing. The German translation will be one of the first non-English language versions loaded into the RDA Toolkit. The German National Library plans to implement RDA in March 2013 along with the Library of Congress and the British Library. The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek is now a JSC member, with Christine their representative, a fact which I managed to miss during her talk but which is a great move given all the work the German cataloguing community have done to contribution to the development of RDA.

Christine also spoke about the work of EURIG, the European RDA Interest Group, which held its inaugural meeting in December 2011 and plan for annual meetings. There is full information of their meetings, technical meetings, recent European survey and membership on their website. EURIG now has 30 members, including the British Library and the National Library of Scotland among the European national libraries and they are making proposals to the JSC. As RDA develops and expands internationally, it strikes me that it will be useful that the UK has representatives in this European forum as well as on the JSC.

Having seen a European perspective, we also heard from Ageo Garcia about RDA in Central and South America. Ageo is working on the crucial Spanish translation of RDA, to be called Recursos, Description, Accés to preserve the acronym. He spoke about the regular meetings and greater cooperation among Latin American countries. Despite the unity of language, the number of countries makes this a similar situation to what is happening in Europe with EURIG where the need for a formalized regular forum for discussion of international cataloguing standards becomes apparent.

Similarly, the situation in China is surprisingly fragmented, as Li Kai of the National Capital Library (and about to start library school at Syracuse University) outlined in his talk about RDA in China. There is a complete division between cataloguers working on Chinese-language material and those working on Western-language material, the books are shelved separately, catalogued according to different rules by different staff. A survey carried out this year shows a fairly low level of awareness of RDA and there are specific problems (Chinese cataloguing rules have no concept of main entry or authorized access at the moment), but there is apparently some interest in linked data, the semantic web. Work on a translation of RDA began in May, though Li Kai had some doubts about the likelihood of RDA being adopted in Chinese cataloguing.

I found the situation of New Zealand, described by Chris Todd, particularly interesting as there are some parallels with the UK situation as I see it. They are not JSC members but have always heavily relied on US and Australian cataloguing in particular, so their national practice is affected by decisions taken abroad. There is a very useful New Zealand Cataloguers’ Wiki which includes a whole section on RDA with their current activity: they are looking at the RDA proposals and commenting on them, looking at the LCPS and the various options/alternatives within RDA to decide what national policy should be. Chris stated that they have held local seminars, workshops and also have a New Zealand email list to keep cataloguers up to date with developments. There is a lack of local trainers for any future RDA training (though Barbara Tillett is planning to visit) but the National Library is committed to supporting training throughout the country.

At the recent RDA Toolkit Virtual User Group webinar, it was mentioned that other sets of “policy statements” will evetually be made available in the Toolkit as the LCPS (soon to be PCC/LC Policy statements) currently are. Given the levels of international interest in and activity on RDA demonstrated at the RDA Worldwide session, this will be extremely useful as national policy statements can be made available, fully integrated with the relevant rule (I know they’re not “rules” but it’s the most straightforward word to use).

Like most people, I imagine, I spend a lot of time thinking about RDA at the micro level: how will it affect our procedures, what decisions will we make on my library about options/alternatives. RDA Worldwide offered a chance to step back from those considerations and get a view of RDA at e macro level, which was very refreshing.

To read another write-up of this session, see Cheryl Tarsala’s blog post. The slides for all the talks (except Ageo Garcia’s) are available online too.

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