Work on the RDA data model

By Patrick Hogan |

While munching on a sandwich, I asked Jon Phipps some questions about the Metadata Registry, while Diane Hillmann, Karen Coyle, and Nannette Naught (colored pencils in hand) pored over RDA's Entity Relationship (ER) diagram on 3 x 4 foot sheets. During my first week of the new year, I spent a couple days observing discussions on RDA as a data model.

ALA Publishing is working with Metadata Management Associates and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Metadata Registry project in the development of the software for RDA. The Metadata Registry has already developed key modules of software that ALA will need and has more in the works. With element lists and vocabularies for the new standard likely to change, the Metadata Registry can create a central, stable space for maintenance. The software can also generate schemas, which will be available for free download from the RDA website.

The collaboration with the Metadata Registry has its roots with the DCMI/RDA task group formed in in spring of 2007. Last spring, RDA vocabularies were posted on the NSDL Metadata Registry.

In June 2008, in the course of writing functional specs for the RDA software, Nannette Naught of IMT, the document manager for the RDA project and ALA's technical lead, developed an Entity Relationship (ER) diagram for RDA and included FRBR entities. She touched base with Diane, Jon, and Karen along the way and shared information about the RDA content needed by the Registry. At this critical juncture in the project, with functional specs finalized and software developments soon to be underway, ALA Publishing arranged a meeting with Nannette, Diane, Jon, and Karen.

The Registry enables online registration of data elements (e.g. "title) and controlled lists (e.g. "RDA carrier"), presented in a format readable to machines and humans. URIs will provide a persistent location, and tools of the Registry allow for maintenance and change management.

Schema, generated by Registry's Application Profile technology, will be based on the JSC's core element list and full element list, but also support extensibility by the community. As tools for implementation, ALA Publishing will offer a subscription-based schematic dictionary as well as a couple derivative schemas available for free download. Application Profiles will enable the creation of schemas by specialized cataloging communities, using RDA elements along with others.

ALA Publishing's goal is implementation of RDA. The principle is that getting RDA's data model out into the workspaces of the cataloging and metadata community will get the ball rolling. A draft version of the ER diagram is now posted on with a better, revised version coming in February.