Toward RDA Online

Summary of the RDA Meeting in Ottawa, Canada, April 16-20, 2007

Marjorie E. Bloss, RDA Project Manager

Project Administration

The CoP, the committee responsible for the overall RDA project, approved a change in the name of the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR. It will now be known as the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. This change becomes effective immediately and will be reflected on the JSC website and documentation.

The CoP is evaluating different configurations for possible international expansion of the CoP and the JSC. An invitation was extended to the National Library of Australia to join the CoP, thus paralleling the JSC where NLA is already represented through the Australian Committee on Cataloguing. This invitation has been accepted and is effective immediately. Any other expansion would become effective following the release of RDA Online in early 2009.

Content Development

John Attig is replacing Jennifer Bowen as the ALA representative to the JSC. John has attended many JSC meetings and is extremely familiar with RDA issues, so the transition will be a smooth one.

Currently, revised chapter 3 of RDA is available for comment. This chapter, entitled “Carrier,” focuses on the description of the carrier of the resource, such as its physical characteristics, the formatting and encoding of the information stored on the carrier, etc.

During its meeting, the JSC worked towards preparing revisions of RDA’s chapters 6 and 7 for constituency review. Drafts of these chapters will be available for review and comment from July- September 2007. As a result of constituency input, the order of these chapters has been reversed. The chapters are now chapter 6 “Persons, Families, and Corporate Bodies Associated with a Resource” and chapter 7, “Related Resources.” Chapter 6 provides a set of general guidelines and instructions on the use of access points representing persons, families, and corporate bodies associated with a resource and also reflects the association between them and the resource being described. Chapter 7 provides general guidelines and instructions on the use of identifiers, names, and descriptions referring to resources that are related to the resource being described.

The JSC continued its work on RDA part B, “Access Point Control,” in preparation for its distribution for constituency review and comment in December 2007. One issue, which the JSC discussed in depth, is whether RDA will contain any changes to AACR2 practice in terms of choice of main entry and form of access points. There was agreement that there would be no deviation without strong justification. This underscores the CoP’s and the JSC’s continued commitment to facilitating the adoption of RDA and ensuring its compatibility with AACR2 records. Find additional details on RDA content development online.

The JSC also evaluated the effect of RDA on MARC 21 elements, identifying MARC tags that would need modification in order to accommodate RDA. This information will be submitted to MARBI (the committee responsible for modifications to MARC 21) for ongoing discussions of modifications to MARC 21 in light of RDA’s release.

Product Development

The Co-Publishers (the American Library Association, the Canadian Library Association, and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) are in the final stages of developing an RFP for RDA Online. A draft of the RFP was reviewed during the meeting. The RFP was distributed to selected vendors at the end of April. Responses are due at the end of May and a vendor will be chosen in mid-July 2007. The RFP includes two online components for RDA. The first is an authoring/reviewing environment so that members of the JSC and its working groups can simultaneously work on RDA content. This component is scheduled for availability by mid-September 2007. The second component is RDA Online itself. RDA Online is scheduled for general release in early 2009.

There are three major sections in the RFP describing the RDA Online functionality. The first includes requirements for views of RDA content. The Full view displays RDA instructions in their entirety. The Concise view is an abridged view, displaying just those sections of the content tagged as “concise.” The Custom view permits users to identify only those instructions the user needs, for example, only instructions related to cartographic resources or serials.

The second major set of requirements describes the four navigational screens that will be available with RDA Online: Browse, Basic Search, Advanced Search, and Saved Search. The system will also provide a Help or FAQ function for commonly encountered problems.

The third major set of requirements in the RDA RFP focuses on providing users with access to content through two specialized, task-specific functionalities. The first, Step-by-Step, will prompt users to answer predefined search criteria to guide them through the cataloguing process. The second, Smart Sheet, will present users with worksheets used for specific record types linked to related rules.

RDA Adoption and Implementation

The CoP and the JSC are very much aware of constituency concerns about adopting and implementing RDA. To this end, the British Library, Library and Archives Canada, and the Library of Congress are beginning to coordinate plans for adopting RDA. They have already begun discussions on how their libraries might proceed and the various issues that must be considered in adopting and implementing RDA. Members of the CoP representing the national libraries will consult within their institutions as a first step in developing RDA adoption and implementation plans.


On April 30/May 1, a meeting of representatives from the RDA, Dublin Core, and IEEE-LOM (Learning Object Metadata) communities was held at the British Library. This meeting, supported by RDA, grew out of discussions held during last year’s Dublin Core meeting. The objectives of this meeting included comparing and contrasting the conceptual models or standards used by each group, and to related standards for data structure, content, format and exchange. Find more details about the meeting online. (Note: The following is a brief after-meeting update. The CoP and the JSC were very pleased with the success of the Data Modeling meeting in bringing representatives of RDA, Dublin Core, and IEEE-LOM together and identifying significant tangible outcomes which would come from future collaboration on an RDA Application Profile. They are presently exploring issues and options for taking this work forward, including securing the necessary funding.)

The JSC and the CoP considered the most appropriate mechanism for representing RDA at the upcoming Dublin Core meeting in Singapore, and will form their decision based on the outcomes of the Data Modeling meeting.

The JSC and the CoP discussed RDA activities planned for the 2008 IFLA Conference, which will be held in Québec City. In addition to rolling out a beta version of RDA Online at that conference, the JSC has submitted the appropriate forms to IFLA for a satellite meeting on RDA. This proposal has been approved by IFLA and work will now go forward with plans for the meeting.


The schedule for RDA’s first release (early 2009) as established by the CoP and the JSC is an extremely ambitious one. Yet with the incredibly hard work of those involved, most of whom work on RDA on a voluntary basis, we are seeing significant progress in RDA’s development on a number of fronts. Given the involvement of so many people coming from a variety of perspectives, the development of RDA is indeed a collaborative process.