Archive for the ‘rda’ Tag

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.

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.

Informal RDA discussion for RLUK members: what I got out of it

As I mentioned in my previous post, yesterday was the informal discussion about RDA that Helen Williams and I organised for RLUK members. Helen and I were really gratified to see so many people turn up and felt the discussion went well. I personally found it very useful and got a lot out of it, I hope the other participants did too. We held the discussion under the Chatham House Rule, to facilitate open and free conversation. At the start of the meeting, I did mention that I’d be blogging about the discussion but would not identify any individuals or institutions that took part or say anything that could identify them. Everyone is of course free to report back to their institutions about what was discussed, indeed I hope they found enough of interest that they do want to report back, but again without identifying/attributing comments to individuals or institutions. Although this all might seem a bit unnecessarily like a John le Carré novel (and let’s face it, there are few enough opportunities for that in my daily life), I firmly believe that offering that kind of confidentiality really helped everyone feel able to talk openly and made the discussions more useful.

This blog post is a report of the main points of discussion during an extremely full two hours of conversation, but is obviously slightly affected by that confidentiality. It obviously reflects my own personal impressions and the things that struck me as most interesting. I could never hope to cover everything discussed in those two hours. Doubtless other attendees would have taken home a slightly different impression and may, indeed, decide to blog about it themselves or add to the comments here to offer a rounder picture.

For me, the best thing about the morning was just having a rare opportunity to talk openly and freely to UK colleagues in a similar situation, colleagues who are thinking about RDA implementation, planning or worrying about training needs and figuring out how to tackle the same hurdles. I now have a network of people I have met personally who are dealing with these issues in other institutions which will be extremely valuable over the next few months. People did air some unresolved issues about RDA itself: the timing of implementation, the content of the RDA rules/guidelines, the problem of not having had easy access to the Toolkit to make a full assessment, the value of RDA while still in a MARC environment. None of these issues will be new to people who’ve been following RDA over the last few years and many of them I feel are extremely valid concerns. However, putting those aside, I think there is a general acceptance now that RDA is coming (finally!), it really is happening and we simply need to prepare for it now that we know the Library of Congress and the British Library are moving to RDA on March 31st 2013. I’d sum this up by saying that we’re now in a “when not if” world and that represents a change of mindset.

Having said that, the “when” is not a straightforward question to answer and only a couple of institutions represented at the meeting had made a firm commitment to move to RDA on Day 1, along with LC and the BL. Some were waiting for a new library system (or necessary upgrades to an existing one) or a new discovery layer. However, in general, the majority were preparing to accept RDA records from Day 1 and a smaller number of people expected to be also creating RDA records. The general sense was that this wouldn’t be a “big bang” switch to RDA, but a more gradual process possibly over the course of the whole of 2013. Again, while there was a variety of experience round the table, very few people had actively begun RDA training for their cataloguing staff or had written RDA documentation or even created RDA catalogue records. However, there is a real sense of movement with this and those institutions with some idea of a timetable were certainly looking at training within the next year.

An interesting aside, more institutions than I expected (from an admittedly small and interested sample) had access to the RDA Toolkit and few more were actively planning to get a subscription in the coming year. However, there seems to be some concern about how much use of the Toolkit can be assumed for the majority of staff, especially paraprofessional staff, copy cataloguers or those who do cataloguing as part of a much broader job description. Several participants plan to create documentation separate from the Toolkit that will work as a “cheat sheet” set of instructions to walk someone through the steps need to edit or create an RDA record (or update an AACR2 record to RDA) without requiring any access to the RDA Toolkit. This matches current practice for many, where staff are not expected to look things up in AACR2.

At one point, when speaking about the need to make senior library management aware of the implications and costs (in productivity terms but also for the RDA Toolkit, etc) of RDA implementation, I realised that the seemingly constant delays to the arrival of RDA may have made those of us talking about it seem like the boy who cried wolf. And it’s only finally this year that we’ve been able to say “it really is coming this time, we have a date, honest!”. Getting RDA into annual appraisals and objectives for managers (and sometimes also for staff) or into the annual plan for the department seemed to be a common way of getting the message out to senior management about the changes coming.

Someone asked whether we have any actual measures, for example from the US National Test libraries, of the drop in productivity when training staff in RDA, either of how great this drop is or how long it lasts before productivity begins to pick up again. I have to say I haven’t seen any hard measures of this, though I remember being surprised by reports from test libraries that the productivity picked up more quickly than they expected. That’s something I’d be interested in following up, though, as we’re all very conscious of the need to maintain productivity and hit rates in our ongoing work even during this transition.

Another quote I came away with was the notion of “accommodating RDA versus creating RDA”. That the process of implementation might be in several stages, the first one of which we are currently in as we see RDA records arriving from external sources. Training could take place in stages: train cataloguers to recognise RDA, deal with copy, before moving on to creating RDA records. “Accommodating RDA” also points to wider issues around derived records, batch-loaded records, vendor records (for shelf ready, e-journals, etc) and various workflows where decisions will have to be made about what kind of records are acceptable. Even once cataloguing fully in RDA, there will be many situations where AACR2 records are still being downloaded into the catalogue for one reason or another and it is unrealistic for most libraries to attempt to convert these to RDA. The notion of hybridity in the catalogue proves quite a relief, then, as we can accept the plurality of records.

There was a huge amount of enthusiasm during the discussion for pooling resources and sharing training materials. There was interest in training events, perhaps even a train the trainer model where possibly the British Library, CIG or even RLUK might provide something centrally. However, there is a real shortage of experienced RDA cataloguers in the UK (outside of the British Library certainly). There’s obvious concern about everyone being self-taught – someone queried where the quality control would come from if everyone simply interpreted the guidelines for themselves. I mentioned something someone had said to me at ALA last month and which I found extremely reassuring: a colleague from one of the US test libraries said that during training she was only ever half a step ahead of the people she was training. This is a very different situation from the one we are used to as experienced cataloguing trainers and needs some different approaches. The best ideas discussed yesterday included:

  • Sharing training material and documentation, ideally by making it public
  • Making workflows within the RDA Toolkit public (the BL has said it will be doing this shortly but possibly other libraries should do it too)
  • The possibility of a forum or other space where people could discuss issues, ask questions (I had some hesitation about this as it feels like that may be reinventing the wheel but I also agree that the main mailing lists are not always the most helpful venues for advice or answers at the moment)
  • Building in ongoing support after the initial training, things such as “open clinic” or regular meetings where staff can come together and look at records they have been working on to discuss questions or where decisions might have been difficult
  • Developing some kind of “application profile” – almost a subset of the LC/PCC Policy Statements – to help with the options and alternatives in RDA as cataloguer’s judgement is not always a helpful concept

We also shared resources we have found useful. My personal favourites, which I’m going to come back to in my write up of ALA too, include:

  • the ALCTS webinars which are extremely reasonably priced anyway but which also become freely available (audio & slides online) after a 6 month period and where there is already a huge amount of great RDA stuff
  • the entire training schedule and documentation from the Library of Congress and all the new links being added to Cataloguers’ Learning Workshop
  • finally I mentioned a great idea from Lauren Bradley (@BibliosaurusRex on Twitter) who I spoke to at ALA. She has created a training checklist in a Google doc, pointing people to various online training resources but suggesting an order and making a selection of what she feels is useful. I think this is a fantastic idea and think I’ll be adopting a similar approach. Lauren very generously made her checklist available as a Google doc and she was asking for comments, so please do have a look and let her know what you think. If I do develop one then I’d like to make it publicly accessible too. Obviously each institution will have its own requirements but the basic skeleton is a very useful way to navigate around the huge amount of RDA training material available online

I’ve only skimmed over our discussion but my conclusions are that this format of open, confidential discussion in a small enough group to enable everyone to participate (we had 12 people) worked very well. Much as Helen & I would love to spend our time travelling round the UK talking about RDA with people (seriously, we would, especially if you offer us biscuits), that’s not really going to be possible. However, we are reporting back to the CIG committee the outcomes of this first discussion and the fact that we feel there’s a lot of interest in this in other parts of the country and from a broader audience than just the RLUK membership. If you think a similar discussion might be useful for you then do let us know and we can pass that on to CIG, who might be able to help facilitate other meetings. We were very grateful to RLUK for covering the cost of tea, coffee and biscuits (the things which allow a discussion of RDA to be civilised and enjoyable). Mike Mertens is reporting back to RLUK on the discussion to see how they can further support their members and the users of the Copac database.

Finally, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who came along and particularly to Helen Williams at LSE for following up on my initial “wouldn’t it be great if we could get everyone involved in planning for RDA implementation in a room” tweet, for offering us a room at LSE and for basically making this happen.

Going to London, where the streets are paved with acronyms…

Tomorrow I am going to London for a very full day of RDA and FRBR. In the morning, it is the informal RDA discussion for RLUK libraries which I’ve organised with Helen Williams. I cannot say how much I’m looking forward to it – born from a little casual remark on Twitter (as are all the best things I find). I’m hoping it will be a really useful opportunity to talk to other people thinking about RDA implementation in RLUK libraries, talk about what we’re planning, what we’re worrying about, what we’ve yet to decide. I’ve been doing a huge amount of preparation for RDA training/implementation since I returned from ALA so it will be great to chat to other people and see how my ideas and plans fit in with those of other people.

In the afternoon (must remember to have lunch in between), Helen and I are giving the FRBR for the terrified workshop for CIG in collaboration with CILIP in London. I have spent the day finalising my preparation. The workshop was fully booked within about 24 hours and we already have a waiting list so I think Helen and I are just really aware that we want to do a great job for all the participants and do justice to the fantastic workshop designed by Esther Arens. I think I’m going to dream about entities tonight.

I’m still writing up all my RDA-related notes from my fantastic trip to ALA in Anaheim last month. I promised to post it all here and I will, sorry it’s taking a while but I hope this post demonstrates that I am still very much actively thinking about all these issues. I hope to bring a lot of what I learned at ALA from colleagues in the US to my discussions tomorrow, with colleagues in the UK. Which is what it was all about.

#catbkchat – Section 1 of Twitter book club

This is going to be an unusual blog post as I’m going to use it to just post some thoughts for the Twitter book club, a bit like liveblogging (so expect a lack of full sentences, poor grammar and spelling, half-finished arguments, etc).

We’re about to start on Twitter and I’m not sure how busy it will be so I might have time to tweet a lot of these thoughts anyway. We’re talking about Conversations with catalogers in the 21st century and this part of the chat is focusing on the introduction, foreword (by Michael Gorman) and the 3 articles in Section I , AACR2 and RDA.

Starting with Section I because, let’s face, that seemed logical plus it wasn’t too long as to be daunting. The great upside was that the longest of the 3 articles (RDA, AACR2 and you by Elaine R. Sanchez) was available online in her institutional repository (hurray for repositories) so people can join this section even without a copy of the book.

The downside – for me at least – is that this is one of hte least interesting sections of the book for me. In fact, it made me feel quite depressed as a starting point because it was all so very negative (even the foreword is a bit negative about future developments in general and RDA in particular). In a normal book club, this would be a spoiler, but let me just say that this isn’t really representative of the whole book. The rest of the book has really interesting, thought-provoking and varied things to say. It’s not all anti-RDA polemic (which is kind of how this first section felt to me). And the book itself is aware of this slight bias – it gets mentioned later on but I wish in a way they had acknowledged it in the intro up front as it nearly put me off. I hope other people didn’t feel the same.

On balance, I realised there have been a lot of extremely pro-RDA publications too so there’s nothing wrong with something to balance that out and provide the alternative view, especially as there are a lot of people with very real reservations. I just would have liked a warning that this book would adopt a particular slant if that makes sense.

Very fast typing as I’m about to switch over to Twitter now and post this as first liveblogging entry.

2011 – the year of…

Well, it’s been a while since I blogged. Not because there is nothing to blog about, rather because there’s a little bit too much going on at the moment. So here’s a little summary of what I would like to be blogging about when I can find the time.

The year of cataloguing conversations

I’ve just ordered a copy of Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st century, which will hopefully reach me in a couple of weeks. I bought it after reading about it from Christine Schwartz (who has contributed a chapter). She talked about 2010 being the “year of catalog(u)ing conversations” but I feel I got to that one a bit late, so I’m very much aiming to see 2011 be another Year of Cataloguing Conversations. We are expecting the outcome of the US RDA Test by Easter and a decision on implementation by June. Given the level of conversation (and angst, worry, stress, conflict) already caused by RDA within the cataloguing world, I can only imagine that this will definitely get us all talking. Venessa and I are also planning to keep talking about High Visibility Cataloguing and have lots of ideas to get other people involved in that conversation too, so I’m hoping it will be a year of positive advocacy and visible cataloguers getting into the limelight and shouting about what they do and how they contribute. We already have guest posts lined up for the blog there.

I tend to end up talking about cataloguing if people stand still long enough to listen so I will keep doing that and hope it is more of a dialogue than a monologue. I am also on the committee of CILIP’s Cataloguing & Indexing Group, which is a great way to have more cataloguing conversations with colleagues from all over the country so I’m looking forward to that.

The year of the (lib)TeachMeet

Last year’s inaugural Cambridge Librarian TeachMeet went really well. We’ve been talking since then about where to go next – members of the organising team are giving talks at conferences during the year ahead so we can tell people about our experiences and the feedback we received.  This week we announced that the next one will take place on March 29th. We have launched our spangly new website and twitter account too, as we were looking to create ways for lots of people to get involved in discussing, talking about, planning and participating in the (lib)TeachMeet. There is also another librarian TeachMeet planned in Huddersfield on February 9th and version for museums – TeachMeet Museums – planned for February 4th so this might turn out to be the year that the non-teacher TeachMeet really took off.

The year of professional conversations

2011 started off with a bang, as I attended the libraries@cambridge conference. Other people have written fantastic summaries of the day which I can offer until I have time to write it up properly. Apart from being a much larger and swishy affair than when I last attended in 2007, it was the perfect mix of inspiring, intriguing and interesting presentations and a rare opportunity to socialise and chat to lots of old friends, former colleagues and new acquaintances (the first time I’ve had people who have only ever “spoken” to me online in some way come up to me and say “oh are you Celine?” or, in the case of Ned Potter, “oh you’re Kuh-juh-klib”). I hope this is the sign of the year to come. At the moment, I’m using the huge network of cataloguers and librarians on Twitter to follow what’s happening at ALA Midwinter in San Diego. Even though my year at work will finish in April, I think the professional conversations will carry on – I might be a bit quieter than usual but I’ll still be keeping in touch with Twitter.

Here’s to 2011 – finally a year which is going to let me talk as much as I want!

RDA at CIG: some rough notes

I seem to have let *cough* several weeks pass since I promised to write up more of my notes from the CIG conference in Exeter. Shame on me, I’ve been short of computer time and short of time at work to post this kind of thing. To start keeping my promises, here are some fairly rough notes on all things to do with RDA that came up during the conference. Be warned, there are a lot of acronyms coming in this post! A lot of the RDA stuff came up in discussions or questions so will not be reflected in the presentations on the conference website.

First there was a fairly informal talk from Alan Poulter, the new CILIP representative on JSC. He stated that, as an academic, he is very independent and happy to raise any issues, concerns or questions that people may have. He is keen to act as a real rep by gathering questions, comments and contributions. He is aiming to set up a website, maybe a wiki, to allow people to do this more interactively. He has had very little comment so far.

The questions discussed what will happen if some libraries adopt RDA and others don’t. Alan Poulter said this was something the library community has experienced before.

There was a question “If FRBR is the question, to what extent is RDA the answer?”, which Alan Danskin (CIG Chair and BL rep on JSC) answered basically saying it’s a move in the right direction. There was a chicken-egg situation where the cataloguing rules and the encoding (MARC) need to reflect FRBR, so the decision was taken to start with the rules which will allow the rest of the necessary changes to take place. He was at pains to say that moving to RDA will not be as big a shift (in the first instance) as the shift from AACR to AACR2. Very few headings will change. In future library systems, more work can be done at the expression level  and a FRBRised future is more attainable if this effort is shared. Someone else asked why we still didn’t have separation of description/display/coding in RDA but Alan Danskin felt that RDA did manage this separation (despite the fact that we’ll initially be implementing it in MARC) and that there is mapping to MODS as well as ISBD, etc.

Alan Danskin reported on the results of CIG’s RDA in the UK survey [Powerpoint presentation available online]. 78 responses, primarily academic libraries but a mix of other types. CIG feel the survey showed a generally low level of understanding about RDA, there is quite a lot of basic work to do on awareness and understanding. Feedback from BL staff also confirms that there is a big issues understanding the FRBR model, work-expression-manifestation-item, etc. Alan said that quite a few respondents to the survey were unclear what was meant by the questions on “percentage of materials catalogued in-house” and on authority creation.

 The survey also reveals a high level of concern about how non-professional cataloguers are going to handle RDA, it needs to be made straightforward.

CIG is planning to contact those respondents who offered help with training (venues, trainers, etc). They are currently looking at LC’s training materials and tailoring them to the UK audience. They aim to encourage discussion on the CIG website, invite new members to join the RDA Task & Finish Group, which aims to plan modules, delivery options and prepare training materials. CIG is aiming to make training available at as reasonable a price as possible. They are investigating free access, not charging for content at all just venue, catering, etc. They are investigating the Open University’s Moodle online course software with a view to developing something online which would be more accessible and reduce costs.

Alan Danskin confirmed that the BL are planning to make a decision about implementation next year. Interestingly, he said the BL has money in its budget for training and that it has been discussed with management how this will affect key performance indicators, though there were comments from the audience that this certainly will not be the case in other institutions (neither budget nor flexibility in KPIs).

 If the BL decide to implement RDA, they will have local policies to deal with RDA’s options and alternative rules, etc. They will probably follow most of the LCPS but not all, so there will be BL policies which will be added to the RDA Toolkit in time (with a link icon appearing next to the relevant RDA rule).

Also on a related note, during the Standards Forum Alan Danskin was talking about various MARBI proposals and said something in what he described as an “incautious moment” about MARC being at the end of its useful life. He said some of the recent changes highlight this as you find yourself working around the format to achieve what you need to achieve. When pressed on this, he said any predictions of the death of MARC should be taken with a degree of caution but that as long as we’re using MARC then we’re not talking the same language as everyone else. We need a schema based on a set of data elements (eg ISBD or RDA elements) that could be turned into XML. When linked data was mentioned, he pointed out that there was still a lot of stuff that had no URI to enable it to become linked data. The whole issue of MARC/encoding generally was a recurrent feature of tea break discussions and general chat, in fact.

Terry Willan from Talis commented that the information supply chain with all its interdependencies is a real problem, so many libraries buy in most of their cataloguing and the international infrastructure for bibliographic information is the real nut to crack. Maybe the only way to move away from MARC is a bottom up approach, starting small scale and gradually gaining traction. However, MARC is a very severe restriction on RDA.

Alan agreed that one of the difficulties everyone has with RDA is that it needs to be backwards compatible, so for example chapters 6, 9-11 have lots of elements to describe attributes of an entity (title of work, date of birth of person) but that this information then has to also be put into a string for a heading.

Someone asked whether there might be libraries which go for a “partial” implementation of RDA. Alan actually mentioned the example of what France was describing at the EURIG seminar (a “French profile” which only adopted certain “acceptable” parts of RDA) and said that if a library is not using the core set of RDA elements, then it is not RDA. It’s not good for the re-use of records. He also alluded to the issue of hybrid records, where they have been updated to RDA to some extent so that they are neither AACR2 nor RDA. He raised the question of a heading changing to RDA, what then becomes of the AACR2 records in the database which use that heading?

In a general discussion on the final morning, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm when the question was asked how many people had looked at RDA Toolkit for more than 30 minutes. It is perhaps confirmation of what Barbara Tillett described as a “muted response” in the UK that only Cambridge University and the British Library had taken out a subscription to the RDA Toolkit for this year. Not really surprising given the cost and uncertainty about implementation/implications during 2010-11. LSE reported that they had explored the Toolkit quite extensively during the open access period and used the opportunity to create some sample records.

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 ( 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.


Recommended Daily Allowance: RDA

Please forgive the post title, there are not many puns to be had in cataloguing acronyms. This is a non-23 Things post, and so should possibly come with a health warning for anyone reading who is not a cataloguer!

This weekend I attended the seminar on RDA in Europe: making it happen! (note the chirpy exclamation mark, which pretty much sums up the atmosphere of the whole event). The seminar was organised by JSC, the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA and EURIG, the European RDA Interest Group, a body that does not yet officially exist but which elicits a huge amount of interest in Europe and beyond, as evidenced by attendance at Sunday’s event. I’ve been thinking a lot about RDA since the launch of RDA Toolkit and it was a good opportunity to spend some time with other people who are also thinking about it.

Most of the people speaking and attending were moving on the IFLA 2010 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Yes, that’s a note of envy you can detect. For this reason, it might take a while for the slides of the various presentations to appear online (though this has been promised) and so I’m going to wait to write up a proper summary of the event until I can link to slides.

I did want to say that it was a very interesting overview of general interest in and attitudes towards RDA in many different countries in Europe. There was also an extremely useful, detailed summary of the US national libraries’ testing of RDA which begins in October 2010 as well as another chance to look at RDA Toolkit, which has inspired me to go back in with my open-access subscription and play about with it some more.

There is a growing body of training material, example records and other RDA-related documentation online so I’ll link to some of it in lieu of any further summary from me. I’m finding this very helpful in understanding exactly what RDA may mean for our cataloguing practices and workflows.

I did promise you cake

One of the things I’ve learned during 23 Things is how much you can discover using Twitter.

For example:

Yumster #rda #cataloging on Twitpic

Something I already knew is that where there are cataloguers, cake is never far away.

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