Posting to RDA-L.
If I may make an observation on this topic, which I have followed very carefully.
This discussion has shown me that the determination of attribute vs. entity is a highly subtle one, loaded with lots of “booby-traps” and false paths along the way. Getting a competent understanding of this will require quite a bit of training and probably, a fair amount of consultation with colleagues to ensure everything is done correctly and accurately. Most probably, once it comes to everyday practice, we will find many other parts of RDA will be similar. While I have no doubt that library catalogers can eventually be trained to do this adequately, other library personnel will probably not be able to do it, and non-library metadata creators in general will have neither the time nor the patience to deal with such esoteric matters. Therefore, this will be for library use only. Perhaps other non-library project will be able to take our “records” (sorry for using such an outmoded term!), that is, if they would want to.
But what was the final result of the discussion about treaties? The same access as we have today. Certainly we can get rid of LCRI 21.35A2 “Treaties, etc., between four or more governments” (http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/21-35a2-treaties-etc-between-four-or-more-governments) and say that we can add all signatories–so long as the resulting record isn’t too terrifying, and a tool is made that lets me add them all quickly and not demand a couple of days to add every country!
But even more, it seems to me that we should consider the future catalog not as a separate entity from the rest of the web, but as an integral part of it (I hope as an important part of it as well). The library catalog should not be something that duplicates the work of others, and sometimes the work they do is much better. We should also recognize that there are many places people can go, and even should prefer, for the kind of information found in a catalog record about a treaty, e.g. not only the major collection at the U.N. http://treaties.un.org/Pages/Home.aspx?lang=en with a fabulous database where you can find and search specific signatories in all kinds of ways, but there are many other sites as well, linked to so nicely e.g. at http://www.justlawlinks.com/GLOBAL/international/citreaty.htm.
So, let me ask the terrible question which will most probably make some others angry: once somebody knows these sites, who will want to use our stuff, RDA or not RDA? These are the future directions of our users–they are going there; they *should* be going there, and libraries must follow or be left behind.
Libraries could help build and maintain these types of sites in order to link to and through them in a whole number of interesting and innovative ways to save our time, and increase access for all.
The catalog should no longer be seen as a separate entity but for efficiency’s sake to use the power of the web to really cooperate with all kinds of partners out there.