Archive for the ‘RDA’ Category

Green, green grass

April 11, 2012 1 comment

When I was quite young and in training for something that has benefited me my entire life, Mom tells me I used bring my “special chair” out of the training room and into the living room so I wouldn’t miss anything.  This has not changed. Oh wait, no I do not bring my “special chair” into the living room but I do hate to miss anything.

For me, the grass is always green. I don’t mean greener but just green – different shades of green, all very appealing.  I love what I have but I also want to experience that stuff over there and OH! Look over there! How cool! I want to do that too! Wait a minute, what’s that? Oh yes please, can I do that too?

I’ve been struggling to learn patience – to enjoy the bird in my hand and not also envy the other birds.  I cannot be everywhere at once. I cannot do everything. I have to pick and choose. And I love what I choose (generally).  I tend to find the joy or happiness in whatever it is – at least, I try to find it (sometimes it can be difficult). At the same time, however, I want to go do X Y or Z as well.

What I am saying is – there are lots of very cool things happening in our world. To RDA or not to RDA, to MARC or not to MARC, to Cloud or not to Cloud and the development of each of these (and their accessories – FRBR, FRAD,etc.). I want to know it all and do it all!  Instead I am watching and listening (sometimes from afar) and trying to keep up with all the cool stuff.  I am so happy to know there are such great people involved in all of these things – and that they patiently share their expeditions and forays into the uncharted world.

Keep it up guys. It may seem at times that you are swimming upstream and in a deep abyss but there are lots of us out here. Watching. Listening. Eagerly learning from you.

Categories: cataloging, frbr, marc, RDA Tags: , ,

Aha at ALA MW

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I had an “Aha” moment at ALA MW. There I was, sitting and listening to the Big Heads of Technical Services (no, really, that’s what it is called), when suddenly my brain began to function. Let’s see it if works in essay form.

I believe I have seen the future – the bigger picture – the reason for the seemingly meaningless changes. We are moving completely away from the traditional ILS (or the more hip acronym LMS), Discovery models, ERM, etc.  That, we are hoping to merge all these different systems all built for specific purposes into one system (with modules, scalability, etc. etc.). This makes perfect sense.

Copy cataloging began as a way to share so each library did not have to “reinvent the wheel“. We developed ILS to manage all (at the time) known aspects of the library: Cataloging, Acquisitions, Circulation, and the good ol’OPAC. This made life oh so much easier as we hooked all the areas together.

Along came CD-ROM and, eventually, online databases. Vendors have completely separate systems we learn to manage. Perhaps we added the acquisitions portion to our traditional ILS and maybe, just maybe, some added aspects to their catalog but in general, these are considered separate from ILS. We have separate Admin, separate search, separate statistics, etc. Oh yes, we piddled around with something called “federated search” to enable a user to search across all databases. It didn’t work too well and many felt burned by the experience (thus we now call the same concept “Discovery”).

As we began collecting more e-resources, we needed an easy way to provide access. It quickly became apparent the traditional ILS catalog would not suit – too much information too fast and rapidly changing. Thus began the, oh how to say without using proprietary product names? A product that allows a long alphabetic listing of e-resource specific titles. This product allows the user to click on a specific title to see the contents and read/print/email particular articles from the list of contents. This is yet another system to manage in the library.

As e-journals and packages began Big Deals, we added ERM to our arsenal of management tools. We needed somewhere to store things like license agreements, ILL information, title lists, etc.

Are you counting? We’re up to at least four different systems to use.  I may have skipped a few steps in our evolution – this is a blog, not a scholarly paper, I’m allowed.

Back to my aha moment…why are we fooling around with things like RDA and a new MARC (or, as Beecher Wiggins termed in the Big Heads meeting, Bibliographic Framework Transition) or the newly coined Web Scale Management? Well to merge all these varying systems together  – to have one place to put our acquisitions information and it share along appropriately. For one place to search, and it searches all appropriate areas. For one ‘catalog’ in which everything collected (physical or ephemeral) by the library is noted.



July 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I have the greatest of intentions. 

I changed jobs a wee bit back and am no longer in daily contact with cataloging. However, cataloging is still close to my heart and I am trying to keep up – along with learning the new job, getting new routines in place, etc.

I read the June 14, 2011 notice on AutoCat about the RDA decision by the National Libraries and I intended to blog about it. I saw the posting of the final report and intended to read it in full. I saw the dust bunnies under the coffee table and intended to vacuum.

I have the greatest of intentions.

However, I have discovered that the plate is overfull. I can either do my best by the new employer and read about my beloved cataloging in my own time OR fail at everything (half-work, half-read, half-dust…ok, I’ll probably still half-dust).

Since Grandpa taught me a job half-done is not well done, this blog will be updated when I can devote the time to doing it right. I will try to post but sporadic will be the best I can do and still function in the rest of my life.

Having said that…

I’m excited by the implied new format, to quote the notice on AutoCat  “…but there are many others that must be dealt with simultaneously. We especially note the need to address the question of the MARC standard, suggested by many of the participants in the RDA test.”  This suggests to me that the limitations of MARC are being seen – indeed I’d think that the limitations would glow neon when trying to catalog with RDA. I still love MARC but it has reached end of life and it is time to rework. Think of a Ford Mustang.  Sure, a 1965 Mustang is a beautiful automobile and, if cared for, could still work quite well.  However, I’d like to have the modern safety features as well as things like MP3 port, cruise control, and yes, air conditioning. Can you retro-fit the 1965 with these features? Sure but it would be awkward and ugly and expensive. I’d rather preserve the ’65 and spend my money on something new that will accommodate my needs of today and the near future.

Categories: RDA Tags:

tick tock, RDA clock

June 3, 2011 2 comments

It’s June 2011, and you know what that means – time for the USA National Libraries to make their decision on RDA. Yep, any minute now… sometime before commencement of ALA on June 23, 2011, The Decision Will Be Announced.

Will it be YES?

Will it be NO?

Or will it be the fairly new “Yes – but…”, that is Conditional.

I’m leaning towards Conditional. Why? Because it was developed as a response only within the last few months. Prior to that it was either Yes or No.  Conditional being “Yes, but we would like to see X changes by X date”.


  1. It will not be instantaneous. I think the change will be gradual, over a period of some years (guessing the number 5). 
  2. Fewer libraries will purchase the RDA Toolkit than ever purchased AACR2
  3. Many will rely on short cut books, Mac’s lovely cheat sheets, and the old standard ‘copy what you see others doing’.
  4. Many mixed records will appear, many mistakes will be made, much gnashing of teeth will occur but fewer will take retirement over implementation.
  5. The ‘new’ MARC 21 will be greatly anticipated, more than RDA ever was.
  6. ILS vendors will make few changes to their systems based on RDA, as they will be anticipating the ‘new’ MARC 21 (just like many waited on FRBR because of RDA).
  7. Tons of training opportunities will spring up – some free, some not, some online, some in person.
  8. As always, much ranting will occur by the usual suspects in the usual venues (Twitter, AutoCat, NGC4LIB, etc. etc.).

If I’m right, I’m buying a lottery ticket.

What do you think?

Categories: RDA Tags: ,

RDA – draft and cost

March 21, 2011 6 comments

RDA-L has a lovely discussion on what is a “draft” of RDA and what is “actual” RDA. I do love stimulating list serv ‘discussions’.

The “draft” messages actually start with a post by Adam L. Schiff (a response to a post by J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, all covered in Adam’s post):

It is incorrect to refer to the “present draft” of RDA. It’s not a draft, it’s a published work. Granted changes and refinements will be made, but it is as much a final work as the first edition of AACR2 was, which one would not also refer to as a draft.

Comments on that comment were many – how do we refer to the current iteration of RDA? Since it is designed to change and evolve, each moment the text has the possibility of change so how do we refer to right now in RDA? Oh yes, of course, one assumes that before changes are made announcements go out allowing the text will change at X time on Y date. But I haven’t read of any schedule or time frame specifying “Each Tuesday at 3:00 AM Lost City of Atlantis Time, we will change the wording of section 3.4.5 subparagraph 6”. So, it is logical to assume changes can occur at any time without prior notice. Thus creating this conundrum – how do we refer to the current iteration? “At 6:03 and 23 7/10 seconds AM Utopian Time, section 5.3 sub-subparagraph 23 stated [blank]”.

In the ‘actual’ RDA thread a post, Mike Tribby stated (go to the post itself to read the entire message):

…if RDA is to be a success, it is not and never has been the intent of the co-publishers to make RDA available for free or anything like free. In fact I daresay it has been understood from the beginning of this process that RDA was intended to pay for itself. It’s not a secret, though it’s also not the first thing the RDA crowd mentions when touting RDA.

Should cost of access and the possibility of universal access have been concerns? I think they should have been– but they were not. To perhaps put it crassly: theoretical purity was a higher concern than access. It’s hard to blame the co-publishers very much since none of them are exactly rolling in
extra money, and this process has been expensive, but some of us have been complaining about the assumed cost of subscriptions to RDA for some time now.

I’d like to emphasis this point.  RDA is not free – neither the creation nor the ongoing evolution are ‘free’.  The pricing does put it out of the reach of many libraries, we are not a rich profession and technical services is usually on the short-end of the budgeting. The reality is if RDA is implemented as The Rules, many libraries will use things like Mac’s cheat sheets or an RDA For Dummies book or simply copy another record and make guesses (what many do now in their own catalogs – copy and guess).

The cost of change is many – we have the actual cost of the product, we have the cost of training/learning, we have the cost of on-going purchase and training/learning … and we have the cost of not  changing. That is, as we move forward without change, we become less and less relevant in the world of today and perhaps, tomorrow. Which cost do we choose?

Categories: RDA Tags: ,

Replacing MARC

March 7, 2011 11 comments

Recently conversation erupted on RDA-L that was initiated with a question about a subjective statement in a MARC Bibliographic tag 300 field (specifically the subfield b). Basically someone had input “illustrations (some coloured, all beautiful), maps ;”  in said subfield. The subjective bit is the “all beautiful” and the question was regarding if RDA allowed for subjective comments such as this within the MARC record. A side discussion arose regarding the spelling of color/colour. Much back and forth occurred and you can read about it yourself on RDA-L, OCLC-Cat, AutoCat, etc.

Jonathan Rochkind of Bibliographic Wilderness made a statement that no one else seemed to focus on. He said:

Which is why in an ideal world, if we care about whether the illustrations are colored or not (and I suspect the time is LONG gone when our patrons or we actually DO), there would be a data element in the record which marked, in a machine interpretable way, whether there are illustrations (checkmark HERE), and whether they are colored/coloured (checkmark THERE). Which could then be translated to the appropriate spelling or even language for the given audience.  [more to read in the original post]

Exactly! The data element should be in a machine interpretable way! The programming should be able to output as we required. This is what Karen Coyle and others have been saying for some time now. The majority of cataloging should be data entry-like.

WHAT????  I am saying the basics should be basic data entry. It will still require knowledge to input the data as well as determining call numbers, subject headings, etc. But the basics should be check here, type an arabic number there, etc – you know, like filling out a form online.  This would be part of parsing out all the data into different fields or subfields or data areas or whatever-you-wish-to-call-it.

Why do this? It promotes consistency. It promotes easier sharing. It promotes tons of options for searching the data.

One of the reasons for RDA is to separate AACR2 from MARC Bibliographic. It is said to move ahead in the semantic web world, we need to separate the rules from the format or input mode. Yes, we do. AACR2 and MARC were ‘married’ in the 1970s. It is time for the D-I-V-O-R-C-E. I do wish we’d moved away from MARC first before killing AACR2 or, ideally, done it at the same time. Yes, I think we’d still have tons of issues and discussion and perhaps arguments but trying to force RDA into MARC Bibliographic is like trying to play baseball with a badminton racket.

Categories: aacr2, marc, RDA Tags: , ,

I get it [RDA]

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s been, oh, about 4 years since I first heard of RDA. I read, I reviewed, I tried to comprehend.  The ideas of FRBR came naturally to me, learning the terminology took a bit longer but I understood the concepts.  RDA, not so much.

I disremember what I read initially but it has taken me four years to really understand. The idea of RDA is really to change the vocabulary and the way we think of cataloging. That is, instead of looking at it from an item perspective and starting with format as we do with AACR2, with RDA we look at the individual bits of data (name, title, etc.) and link them together. It is sort of cataloging by reverse engineering. I wish I could have seen more clearly 4 years ago but it took hearing from Shana (comments on Why RDA then in why RDA, revisited) as well as recent discussion on RDA-L, NGC4LIB, etc. which explicitly stated this – thanks everyone!

So, I understand RDA – at least, I think I do. The actual changes (such as rule of three, GMD, etc.) are not tremendous and truly, as things are, will not make a huge impact (other than work load perhaps).  However, the idea is the future – when MARC21 is gone and we use a new input;  when the ILS begin to program to the new rules/ideals; when other industries might also pick up RDA and use it as a standard – this is when the real change occurs.

The very difficult thing right now is trying to force new concepts into the old molds. Pushing and shoving RDA into MARC21. Trying to get the ILS to change, drastically change, the way they program their cataloging modules. Having other communities (Publishers, Museums, etc.) adopt and understand the RDA rules.

It seems to me, to make this whole thing work – EVERYONE has to buy in and make the change. The format too – MARC21 has to go. Will that happen? I don’t know. The world’s largest bibliographic database is wedded to MARC21 – can that be changed? How much will it cost? How much will it cost us all?

Categories: aacr2, cataloging, frbr, marc, RDA Tags: , ,

RDA blog posts, comments and informal testing

January 10, 2011 1 comment

Two blogs posts I read today, plus a comment on one of my posts made me think again. Oh, and the CRCC RDA informal test results – they also peaked my interest.

So – let’s start with Diane Hillmann’s Irresistible Apology of the day. This is part of Diane’s report from her attendance at ALA Mid-Winter this past week. I quote:

I still think that it’s hard to justify the time and expense of the testing that has just concluded, which tests RDA only as used in a MARC environment, not RDA itself.

OK, what? I thought there were test records made using other ‘containers’ than just MARC. So I checked at the Library of Congress RDA test records site, and find the test records are indeed almost all of MARC. Hmm. This changes my opinion. I had thought the test was also testing in other ‘containers’ as the formats have been termed. If RDA is meant to separate the rules from the format … should not the test incorporate as many of these formats as possible? Otherwise what is the point? How is that a valid test for the intent of RDA? Can anyone give me more examples than the 11 MODS records on the Library of Congress RDA test records site? Was a similar test done in Dublin Core? How about RDA work with EADS? What about MARC in XML? Or ONIX?  I have to agree with Diane’s statement:

The result of this from the point of the community has been useful insofar as it has provided an avenue for some initial training and participation, but not so useful from the point of view of really providing any understanding of RDA implementation.

Now look at What’s the point’s RDA and OPACs. Again, I quote:

I think RDA is looking into the future and predicting what we will all want and trying to make provisions for it. We (some of us, including me) criticise RDA because it neither sticks with the standards we’ve already got, nor offers anything our present OPACs can make use of in any kind of a helpful way.

I have to agree again, currently RDA is not being used by any Integrated Library System out there – not to my knowledge. From everything I read and see, the vendors are waiting to see what we want. The latest cataloging modules I’ve seen are all still written so that the cataloger (or clerk or whatever) has to have an intimate knowledge of MARC, not AACR2 and not RDA but MARC. I have the same question as What’s the point”:

What do we want, really really want – something that used to work, something that works now or something that might work in the future?

Finally, James Weinheimer commented on my post Why RDA, revisited.

I still maintain that the RDA folks must demonstrate the business model that will show precisely how things will change for the better: what will libraries get from the changes? I haven’t seen anything at all convincing yet and after all, we’ll still be stuck in the “horse-and-buggy days” of transferring MARC records in ISO2709 format! Why not change that first?

I agree. I think replacing MARC  has real potential for proving a difference and demonstrating the benefits of change.  When we force MARC to try to do what RDA is intending … I think failure occurs. MARC requires quite a bit of handling to making the desired linking/FRBR-like concepts (that RDA is based upon) occur. And please note, I have been of the camp stating MARC is fine but I finally saw the light after a Karen Coyle talk.

After they demonstrate the real advantages of RDA in concrete terms that all can understand, everybody could begin to discuss it, do some research and ask the various groups: reference librarians, selectors, and yes: even the users themselves. Then we may be able to figure out if it is worth the expense and disruption during one of the most difficult moments in the history of libraries–that I can remember, anyway.

You’re right of course James. The actual physical benefit is not clear. I am now at least understanding RDA more – that it is a restructuring and re-wording of AARC2 to try to engage and communicate with Systems and others (that is, not just ‘catalogers’). That RDA is meant to be more flexible than AACR2 as new formats come around is clear. But what is not clear is the benefit to the libraries right now – and let’s be honest, now is what matters to budget.

The results from the CRCC informal test seem to support that view. There are positives but, perhaps it is my reading, it seems the negatives are stronger.  If nothing else, the idea seems to be RDA is not ready – not yet anyway.

Categories: aacr2, marc, RDA Tags: , ,

why RDA, revisited

January 6, 2011 3 comments

Shana (see comments on my why RDA post) wrote an erudite and thoughtful post on why we must move to RDA.  She said,

In a sentence: RDA is fundamentally different in it’s approach to describing materials/resources/things/[insert pithy term here].

then went on to explain what she meant. Basically, the big switch for RDA is to reformulate or restructure the rules into a format-neutral structure.  That is, instead of referring to “chapter X of AACR2” when you are dealing with a book or sound recording, you would deal instead with the actual elements involved in the description. Whaaaatttt?   RDA is looking more at the individual things that build up the record, such as looking up the title element or the author (main/added entry) element or whatever rather than each chapter devoted to a format such as Monograph or Sound Recording.

Shana and I continued this conversation via email, if I get this wrong please blame me.  I asked if my interpretation above was a fair description. She said it was and we discussed the idea that RDA is the description of what you put in the “container” (such as MARC or Dublin Core, etc.). The idea, Shana explained, is to separate out the rules from the container. That would be like [my example], a stop sign is a stop sign regardless of if you are driving a car, a motorcycle or a bicycle. It still means STOP.

Going back to RDA, we have some relatively minor changes such as the rule of three, abbrev. and such.  The big switch is to change the format and the language of cataloging. J. McRee (Mac) Elrod has written a fantastic guide, Major RDA Changes From AACR2 By MARC Field, about the specific changes. 

I also read Jonathan Rochkind’s post RE: Straight Jacket? on the RDA-L list serv. This makes sense to me. Jonathan addresses the way “MARC serves as our ‘data vocabulary’ and even our rules for entry in many cases come either from MARC itself or are formulated in terms of marc fields“.  Exactly.  Jonathan points out that the switch to RDA is an attempt to separate out the data vocabulary and entry guidelines.  Basically, pulling the two apart so we can restructure.

And, I listened to the ALCTS session “FRBR as a Foundation for RDA” by Robert Maxwell.  I do understand FRBR (or so I think) and this was a jolly good reminder of the ideals of FRBR.

OK, so I see that RDA is a re-structuring of AACR2 to incorporate the terminology of FRBR. This I have understood.  I see there are very minor (to me anyway) changes to the actual rules of AACR2 within RDA. 

I can understand the need for the new vocabulary. I can see Systems and Programmers and Catalogers all need to speak the same lingo (and have ranted on this before).

So.  We are restructuring the language of our rules (from AACR2 to RDA), but we are not significantly changing the rules – or so it said. Is this a fair statement? The rules themselves are not leaping away from what we know today but the language we use to describe the rules has jumped? That is, we are perhaps switching from using Mandarin to Swahili?

Hmm. I guess I’m back to costs and access to the rule then.  If I agree (and I am still teetering on the fence folks) with the switch from AACR2 to RDA, I wonder about the costs involved.  I do not just mean the costs of the “toolkit”.  I do understand ALA’s need to recoup the costs of production and maintenance of this toolkit. I can’t imagine the gnashing of teeth that occurred to develop the pricing structure (whether  I agree with the final sum is moot, it is incredibly difficult to place a price on a brand new and controversial item). 

Costs include training and retraining. Conversion of old records. Conversion or change of ILS.  And more that I cannot fathom at the moment.

Conversion of old records? One of the things being stated is that AACR2 can co-exist with RDA.  That makes no sense to me. If they can co-exist and work fine, then why switch in the first place? Shouldn’t at least the major elements be converted to the new? How will the GMD ‘exist’ with the 336, 337, and 338? Wouldn’t the inconsistency drive the patron nuts – or just me? And wouldn’t the search results be greatly affected?

Conversion or change of ILS? Won’t there have to be changes made to the existing ILS to accommodate the needs of RDA? And will those be part of the current service plan or an update or cost the library $$$?

So – after all this, what do I think? I am now leaning on the RDA side a bit. I can see the need to change the vocabulary. The restructuring of the rules to take the format out of it makes good sense to me. Pain in the posterior to readjust how I look things up? Why yes!  I do still think that perhaps changing MARC first or in conjunction with the rules would have been more beneficial (and an even bigger pain in the posterior). I still worry about the costs involved. How can this be brought down to manageable for the majority, especially in the economy of today versus when AACR to AACR2 happened?

Oh – and what exactly are the ILS doing? I know VTLS has been on board since the beginning (and have very much enjoyed their presentations) but what of the others? And what about Systems people? Are they involved in the new vocabulary? Do they understand it better than the old? And how does this make the linking possible that is desired? Oh, that’s right, it’s the first step. What’s the second?

Categories: aacr2, marc, RDA Tags: , ,

why RDA

December 8, 2010 13 comments

Melissa over at Melissa in Stephensville has a grand new post, “You say you want a revolution“, regarding the current RDA rants and rages on the list servs. And I don’t just like it because of the Beatles reference … but that always helps!

I have been feeling quite dumb of late, not understanding the why of RDA.  It took me a while to understand why we needed to change MARC21 (see previous posts) so perhaps the fault is mine. I am not seeing the big picture but I have been trying. I understand FRBR (or so I think I do) and the new vocabulary. I understand linking. But I don’t understand why RDA is needed. I can see a need for a replacement to MARC21. I can see a need for ILS vendors and Systems people to work with catalogers to understand the vast extent of metadata available for exploitation.  Heck, I can see a need to expand AACR2.  I do not, however, see the why for RDA.

For me, knowing the bigger picture, understanding the why of something, is fairly essential. If I can fit the idea into my existing schema of knowledge, I can link the new information to other information and am able to do my best by it.  For example, knowing that most ILS look  to the fixed fields for dates when limiting a search by year (even though those very same dates are in the variable fields), helps me understand the importance of filling in that information correctly – it also helps me trouble shoot later.  Knowing  that most any liquid can be substituted for milk when making a basic bread helped tremendously when I discovered I was lactose intolerant.  If you tell me the new dress you got has a peter pan collar just like the red shirt you wore on Tuesday, I know exactly what it will look like even though I’d never heard of a “peter pan collar” before.  I guess this is why FRBR made so much sense to me – in my mind I automatically link things and always have.

I’ve attended classes, watched Webcasts, read blogs & list servs (like AutoCat, RDA, NGC4Lib, etc.). I’ve even gone in on the “open access” to examine it. I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried!  Here are the changes I see with RDA:

  1. No more abbrev. (I had to), that is, unless it is on the item and it is in a transcribed field
  2. No more 245 $h (GMD), instead use the 336, 337, and 338 (Content, Carrier, and Media)
  3. No more ‘rule of three’

uhm…what else?

I’ve heard it said that RDA is a building block, the first essential step.  Why is that? What is the next step? What is the final goal? How will RDA get us a solid base? What are the contingencies? What else is involved?  I am very happy to work on it  but I need to understand why.

Categories: RDA Tags: