RDA Forum: 2016 Midwinter Meeting

The 2016 Midwinter Meeting RDA Forum took place on January 9. Gordon Dunsire, chair of the Resource Description and Access (RDA) Steering Committee (RSC), spoke first on “RDA Progress on Governance and Strategy.” Two major name changes took place in November 2015. The Committee of Principals became the RDA Board and the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) became the RDA Steering Committee (RSC). The website has been changed to reflect the new names (http://www.rda-rsc.org/).

The RSC is changing its membership. There will now be only one representative from each of the six United Nations regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, and Oceania. The groups from Europe and North America currently each have three representatives, so they will have to select only one representative each.

There are eleven Working Groups under the RSC. The Technical Working Group and the Translations Working Group will be standing groups; the other nine will be temporary groups that will disband when their work is completed. Two new groups are for Archives and Rare Materials, which will liaise with the DCRM (Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials) committees.

The RDA strategy focuses on three targets: international communities, cultural heritage communities (institutions beyond libraries, like museums), and linked data communities. The work will be in the context of the governance transition, which changes how RDA is managed and developed and provides for greater internationalization. Another influence on the RSC will be the new Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records Library Reference Model (FRBR-LRM), which will consolidate the requirements for bibliographic and authority data. Finally, the RDA Toolkit will undergo a review and reorganization.

Dunsire then discussed four specific activities of the RSC. The first is greater international integration of RDA. Translations of RDA terms in five languages (English, German, French, Spanish, and Chinese) are available under open license. RSC is also working on local refinement of elements and values. For example, the Library of Congress asked that “audio belt” be added as a carrier type. RDA was able to add this term to the vocabulary using the completely compatible RDA/ONIX (ONline Information eXchange) framework. In future, RSC might support communities that want to add their own terms. RSC is also examining its base ontologies. These ontologies, which are the basis for all RDA contents and carriers, are being considered in light of the new FRBR-LRM and also ontologies used by cultural heritage organizations and serials communities. Fourthly, RSC is looking at issues of provenance with terms. They have created an element set of “RDA meta-elements,” which is for data about metadata. Examples would be “has source consulted” or “has cataloger’s note.” These meta-elements will be expanded to all or most RDA elements.

Finally, the RSC is focused on engagement. Opportunities for librarian participation range from membership on RDA working groups, representation on the RDA Board and Steering Committee, activity on the electronic mailing list rda-l, and attendance at “Jane-athons” where catalogers engage with RDA.

The second part of the RDA Forum was presented by James Hennelly, managing editor of the RDA Toolkit, who talked about updates. There have been three releases since the 2015 ALA Annual conference. A new Toolkit release is scheduled for February 1, 2016. Updates were made to the German and Spanish versions and future updates include Finnish, Italian, Catalan, and Norwegian. The second edition of the DCRM2 is in progress and possibly will appear in 2017.

The Toolkit is becoming increasingly complex. There is richer content which needs to be presented in useful ways. Hennelly demonstrated how to customize the staff view in the Toolkit Settings, under the Manage Settings link.

A new print book called “RDA Essentials” by Thomas Brenndorfer will be available in April. There will be no print version of RDA available this year. Since sales of the print version have not been robust, new print editions will be published every other year, depending on RSC revisions.

As mentioned by Dunsire, there is a new RSC. However, the old JSC website will still re-direct visitors and maintain the archived content.

The Toolkit review and reorganization is in the pre-planning stage. There will be a call for user input, including how librarians use the current Toolkit and what changes are desired in interface or user experience. Work will begin in late 2016.

Reported by Shannon Tennant, Elon University