Re: [ACAT] RDA Implementation Date Set

Posting to Autocat

On 15/03/2012 22:44, Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:

Yes, the RDA MARC fields now exist, and are being populated in authority records. The German National Library has been using RDA-like elements for some time now. And a major point about the FRBR elements is that they derive from the desire for international co-operation — the new elements weren’t invented whole cloth, but reflect realities on the ground in different countries and are there to facilitate co-operation and integration of bibliographic data (and that’s DATA– independent of the different record formats that house that data, which may not interoperate in different systems).

And March 2013 is not that far away for us to get started as soon as possible on the rest.

Apart from finding a workaround for the GMD, most of the immediate RDA changes resemble just a bundled upgrade of routine MARC code changes (which most ILS’s have had time to incorporate at a basic level, at a minimum) and some long overdue AACR2 changes (which have been waiting ready to go for some time, and so catalogers have had ample time to learn them). Everything beyond that will be incremental and iterative, but the goal for co-operation and finding greater use for the data is still there.

As the Dr. Peter Chen video showed, there is a hunger in system developers to go to the next level. One part of the discussion was about the importance of good, robust, abstract data models to push the envelope in designing new tools to solve business problems. Many of the tools are there — what’s needed is the data built on a good model, and it sounds like there will be takers.

Well, I don’t want to go overboard on this small point of agreement we have reached. For instance, “populating” authority records should not mean that our catalogers will do anything more than they are now. Expecting more is a sure way to eventual oblivion. And, I still see zero reasons for adopting RDA. The changes should be achieved by cooperating through our *systems*, and not through changing cataloging rules that will have no impact on our public.

Certainly our rules will need changing, but as I have tried to point out many times, we don’t yet know how our rules need to change. Change our workflows. Change our formats. Change the definition of the “library’s collection.” Admit that our subject headings as they are now are a disaster and do something to get them to work again. Find a decent way to let people see the powers of the syndetic structures in our authority files. Fine. I am for all of those attempts. But absolutely no one–and I repeat *absolutely no one*–knows what the public needs or wants today, and what they will need and want in the future. So get into the Semantic Web. Great. Do it quick and dirty and cheaply. But don’t expect too much from it, no matter who claims it is any kind of a solution is completely wrong because they *do not know*. They cannot, unless we believe in crystal balls. If somebody turns out to be right, it will just be luck. And because everything is changing so quickly, “the future” includes only five years from now.

The rules we have now definitely work for the purposes of librarians, just as they always have. To make our records useful for the public will take a lot of research and do not justify the expense of changing our records to those forms now. The FRBR structures are based on a 19th-century view of the information universe, and it will take quite a bit of work to show that those same structures are needed in the 21st century. We may find out that all of that is true, or not. The proof remains to be seen.

Still, that doesn’t mean we need to stand still. See what can be done, and find out what are the opportunities through cooperation using the tools at our disposal today. Those possibilities are almost endless. Then, we can see what will be worthwhile to change. Certainly the changes proposed by RDA remain completely dubious as so many of the official reports maintain.