RDA Toolkit Redesign Update & Preview

The Resource Description and Access (RDA) Toolkit Redesign Update and Preview took place at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting on Friday, February 9. The day-long event provided a behind-the-scenes look at the progress of the RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) project and a chance to interact and ask questions of various RDA Steering Committee (RSC) members and RSC working group members.

Screenshot of RDA Toolkit login page
A substantially redesigned RDA Toolkit will first be released in June 2018.

James Hennelly (director of ALA Digital Reference) delivered a presentation titled “RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign.” Hennelly outlined some goals of the 3R Project, including increasing accessibility and incorporating a responsive design and customizable views. The 3R Project is committed to a mid-June 2018 redesigned toolkit release date for the English language content. A follow-up release date of the redesigned toolkit in August or September 2018 will include multiple language versions of the toolkit and policy statements. The new features of the RDA Toolkit include a list of most recently viewed instructions, information on updated documents (i.e. policy statements), and the ability to subscribe to specific documents and their changes. The new RDA Toolkit’s instructions will be organized by entities and their elements. Each entity page will give a definition, user tasks, MARC mapping information, and recording methods. The presentation concluded with a live demo of the new RDA Toolkit website and its functionality.

Linda Barnhart and James Hennelly
Linda Barnhart (secretary of the RSC) and James Hennelly (director of ALA Digital Reference).

Ed Jones (member of the RSC Aggregates Working Group) delivered a presentation titled “The Modeling of Serials in IFLA LRM and RDA.” Jones began with a historical background on the evolution of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographical Records (FRBR) and the IFLA LRM (Library Reference Model) with respect to serials. With the adoption of the LRM and the development of the new RDA Toolkit, a great reordering of the traditional view of the bibliographic universe has taken place. Instead of monographs and continuing resources, the model now includes static works (works that do not change over time) and diachronic works (works that change over time). There are three additional ROF extension attributes for categorizing diachronic works with two possible values: extension mode (succession or integration), extension termination (indeterminate or determinate), and extension requirement (essential or inessential). Jones then gave examples of each of these attributes as catalogers encounter them in day-to-day work. Jones introduced the “WEM Lock” concept, serial clustering mechanisms, the import of publisher plan or intent of the publisher in RDA and LRM, and the basis of description for a diachronic work. Aptly put by Jones, the modeling of serials is the modeling of chaos.

Amanda Sprochi (chair of the RSC Fictitious Entities Working Group) delivered a presentation titled “RDA and Non-Human Personages.” Sprochi discussed the roles of agents in the LRM and challenges regarding the LRM’s definitions of persons and collective agents. Sprochi asks the question “What about non-humans?” as many works claim to be the product of non-human creators. Sprochi covers topics of non-human personages in an agent-like capacity, fictitious entities, the use of pseudonyms for non-humans, alternative and real identities, animal performers, gods, angels, and everything in-between—also Muppets! Sprochi concluded with recommendations of the Fictitious Entities Working Group.

Linda Barnhart (secretary of the RSC) delivered a presentation titled “RDA Data Recording Methods, Transcription, and Manifestation Statements.” The “four-fold path” is now called “recording methods.” The four ways to record data are unstructured description, structured description, identifier, and internationalized resource identifier (IRI). Each entity chapter in the new RDA Toolkit will have a section on data recording methods. Barnhart defined and gave examples of both basic (unmediated) transcription and normalized (mediated) transcription. Basic (unmediated) transcription is a new type of transcription used in conjunction with the manifestation statement, in addition to normalized (mediated) transcription, which catalogers are familiar with. The addition of basic (unmediated) transcription describes transcription by untrained workers or computer- or machine-generated transcription.

Kathy Glennan (ALA representative to the North American RDA Committee and chair-elect of the RSC) delivered a presentation titled “Recording Names and Access Points.” Glennan defined the terms name, Nomen, access point, AAP (Authorized Access Point), and VAP (Variant Access Point). The Nomen entity is applicable to three of the four recording methods. Glennan then gave examples of various Nomen recording methods. Preferred forms of Nomen are important for access point construction, but different cataloging communities will construct those access points differently. RDA does not intend to be prescriptive. Glennan summarized access point elements added to RDA. The new RDA Toolkit will distinguish between the name of the person and the access point of the person. RDA will not contain instructions for constructing manifestation or item access points.

Linda Barnhart presented on behalf of Kate James (editor of RDA Examples) a presentation titled “Elements, Attributes, and Relationships, Oh My!).” Barnhart defined the terms domain and range, element, attribute, and relationship. The definitions of “attribute” and “relationship” have changed in the LRM from their previous definitions in FRBR. Those definition changes were highlighted and current examples and future examples of attributes and relationships given. Of note, the words “attribute” and “relationship” were mentioned in RDA, but never explicitly defined. Barnhart concludes that relationships can be part of authorized access points and this changes the traditional way in which we think about AAPs.

Kathy Glennan presented on the behalf of Kate James a presentation titled “Representative Expressions.” The term “representative expression attribute” is defined, but LRM does not state which attributes are representative expression attributes. Common examples of representative expression are given. Three attributes moving from the work level to the expression level during the 3R Project are key, medium of performance, and intended audience. The new RDA Toolkit will contain a general guidance chapter on representative expression.

Kathy Glennan presented on the behalf of Gordon Dunsire (RSC chair) a presentation titled “Timespan.” The definition of the timespan entity is a temporal extent having a beginning, an end, and a duration. Examples include the date of publication and running time. Timespans have beginning and endings, which have timespans themselves. RDA will use standard timespans based on standards of time.

Seven of the eight presentation slide decks are available for download from the RSC website.A four-part digital recording of the event is also available from the RDA Toolkit website. Note that the Dropbox preview only contains the first 15 minutes of each recording, but the full-length download is available after logging into the Dropbox website.

Another preconference titled “A Practical Introduction to the New RDA Toolkit” will take place Friday, June 22, 2018, during the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. This day-long event will introduce the new RDA Toolkit.

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