Posting to RDA-L
Harden, Jean wrote:
My experience leads me to the opposite conclusion. For people who don’t already know how to catalog, much of RDA *is* simpler, more transparent, and so forth than AACR2. It’s only those of us who have been using AACR2 for years that have so much trouble grasping the new rules.
In my job I teach a steady stream of young catalogers, and I was also in the RDA test. Teaching AACR2 while testing RDA gave me a daily side-by-side comparison. I have found that new catalogers very often stumble into doing descriptive cataloging “right” according to RDA when they come to the end of their AACR2 knowledge.
In formal classes, I have taught FRBR for at least a couple of years now. I find that people without previous cataloging experience understand the basics of FRBR within about half an hour. Then we do a couple more hours of exercises to cement the concepts (take books, scores, recordings, videos, etc. from the collection and make cards for the work, expression, manifestation, item, related works, responsible persons, and whatever else suits the particular group of students, putting these cards on the relevant spot on a labeled table or even floor). I haven’t yet had a student fail to get a firm grasp on these basic ideas within one graduate-length class session.
I have no doubt that experienced catalogers can learn RDA. After all, the final product is not all that different from what we do now. The problem for experienced catalogers is to master a new set of tools that are very expensive in comparison to what we had before. Catalogers can learn to deal with all of this, of course. The question is: are the (so-called) advantages worth the disadvantages? Is the final product worth the cost, especially in these exceedingly difficult economic times?
We can each have our own opinions (I haven’t made my own much of a secret) but when it comes down to it, there is going to have to be an answer: is it worth the cost? And the answer will be very simple: either Yes or No. How many of our CFOs will say yes? No matter what some may think, RDA is not unstoppable and can be checked at many points along the way, as I am sure it will be. As a result, one of the unavoidable consequences of RDA, whether people like it or not, will be a split in the library metadata community.
We have seen promises and presentations with incredible graphics that have made me gasp for breath, but I have found it all very short on specifics. For example: where is the money supposed to come from for this training? What are libraries supposed to give up? Or, are libraries expected to get additional funding for all of it? (Ha!) Also, more than anything else, I think it’s clear that catalogers need help: substantial help, Is there any hard evidence (other than anecdotal) that anybody outside of libraries (and especially Anglo-American libraries) are going to switch over to RDA when they never did with AACR2?