Posting to Various Lists
Bernhard Eversberg mentioned somewhere along the way that RDA means “Resource Description and Access”, but on the email lists, we have seen lots and lots of discussion among catalogers about the “D” (Description) but relatively little about “A” (Access). The public however, is and has always been, far more concerned about Access over Description. Even the RDA changes for the headings, e.g. “Dept.” to “Department”, or “fl.” to “active” or getting rid of O.T./N.T. for individual books of the Bible, are not actually increasing or decreasing access over what people had previously, the only change is how the headings display. To me, the “D” in RDA is the same as “old wine in new bottles” or in other words, it only seems to be new and different but in essence, it is the same old thing.
The only changes to access that I have noticed are: the elimination of the rule of three in favor of the rule of one, which will lead–in some wondrous way I am waiting to see–to the release of pent-up cataloger “energy” that has been contained over the centuries, so that there will be an increase in the number of access points. 🙂 There is also the addition of the relator codes to the headings, which is supposed to lead to a different search experience from the traditional one, since people will be able to search by the activities of the individuals: as director vs. actor, editor vs. author, stereotyper, transcriber, or any of the roles in the long list at http://www.loc.gov/marc/relators/relaterm.html. (As an aside, I have wondered that if someone were to catalog the result of a Google search, would it be correct to use: 110/710 2_ Google,$ecensor) There are also the newly-expressed FRBR relationships among works/expressions etc.
And yet, for the relator codes to increase access, it will clearly demand updating the earlier records to include the relator codes on those headings, just as with the recent RDA-mandated updates to the authority files. The level of complexity to do the same for the relator codes however, must increase several times and will make the recent updates look incredibly easy in comparison (and those are already beyond the resources of many libraries). Therefore, it is only reasonable to assume that any increased access arising from relator codes will have to wait for the far, far future, if ever. (Refer to my podcast http://blog.jweinheimer.net/2012/09/cataloging-matters-no-16-catalogs-consistency-and-the-future.html for more thorough discussion)
And yet novel means of access is what is driving much of the web: through keyword, through references, through increased “metadata” on you, your friends, your friends’ friends, and those with a similar “profile” as yours, and so on.
So I think that Bernhard is exactly right and that “A” as in “Access” is the more important part for the public.
Finally, (in my round-about way) I come to my question: what about new methods of access using the data we already have? What do people think? Are there ideas percolating in people’s minds out there?