As many of you in the library community know,  RDA is the new cataloging rules, which replace AACR2. RDA works within the FRBR and FRAD framework (for those who don’t know what those terms mean, they are essentially semantic web and linked data friendly schemas for library metadata for library materials, like books.)

One of the key parts of the semantic web is to be able to support multiple schemas, as long as the schema is referenced (linked to), the schema is available on the web to search engines, bots, spiders, etc. and the data can be parsed and crosswalked into multiple platforms. Sounds easy enough except library metadata has been traditionally silo-ed;  unlike some communities on the web, our data is not only very unique, but virtually invisible to the world wide web.

Right now there are discussions about whether to implement RDA and if so, how? Overall, I think RDA is a step in the right direction though I really do think it’s just an interim step until our systems and softwares catch up with the rest of the web world.  There are some things that seem rather silly in RDA  to me (getting rid of most abbreviations for one… I realize templates can be created to reduce manual data entry, but why can’t ALL of our systems be flexible enough to map to WHATEVER we want (I’m looking at you, library catalog software)… Our systems should be smart enough to map ill. (illustrations) to display HOWEVER we want. Of course, then standard terminologies in library metadata should not have to be coded anyhow. Our systems should be able to generate it, or at least provide a selection list that we can add to (dropdowns, tags, whatever…)

Anyhow, I digress…

A discussion paper has recently been released from the Program for Cooperative Cataloging  (essentially, a collaborative group that helps coordinate metadata creation within libraries):

At the November 2010 meeting of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) Policy Committee (PoCo), a task group (Beth Picknally Camden, Phil Schreur, Kate Harcourt, Judith Cannan) was charged to write a discussion paper making recommendations on PCC RDA implementation alternatives. Rather than wait for the decision of the US National Libraries (LC, NLM, NAL), PoCo wished to consider the options available for the PCC membership regarding RDA.

An email from the US RDA Test Coordinating Committee (“Status of the US RDA Test” 11/30/10) stated that there were four possible decisions as a result of the test:

  • Do not implement RDA
  • Postpone implementation until certain changes are made
  • Implement RDA
  • Implement RDA with specific recommended changes or policy decisions for US libraries

 If we examine each of these possible decisions, considering the implications for the PCC, under each decision there are at least two paths for the PCC: 

  • PCC follows US national libraries 
  • PCC does not follow US national libraries

In any scenario, PCC must adapt to a hybrid environment.

The paper in full is located here