RDA Happenings at ALA Annual 2019

Every ALA conference features lots of opportunities for the Resource Description and Access (RDA) community of practice to gather, and the 2019 ALA Annual Conference proved no exception.

Resource Description & Access (RDA)

The RDA Toolkit Redesign Workshop was a full-day preconference sponsored by ALA Publishing and held on Friday, June 21. Approximately 80 participants attended this hands-on event that provided an opportunity to work with the beta RDA Toolkit using the training and visualization software RIMMF4 (RDA in Many Metadata Formats). Deborah Fritz of the MARC of Quality (the developer of RIMMF) provided an introduction to the software, and nine tables of catalogers spent the majority of their time RIMMFing, i.e., applying elements and concepts in the beta Toolkit to various categories of resources.

The RDA Forum on the morning of Saturday, June 22 was the setting for reporting out from the North American RDA Committee (NARDAC). Around 100 attendees heard Dominique Bourassa (chair of NARDAC) provide a brief introduction and Stephen Hearn (ALA representative to NARDAC) describe what NARDAC has been up to since ALA Midwinter 2019. NARDAC did a formal review of the beta Toolkit to provide feedback to the RDA Steering Committee (RSC) and coordinated the feedback prepared by the 3R Task Force established by CC:DA (the Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access). NARDAC talks will be posted on the NARDAC presentations website. James Hennelly, ALA Digital Publishing, talked about the work ahead for the beta Toolkit. He predicts that the biggest challenges will be translations, policy statement development, and release notes. An August release of the beta Toolkit is expected. Hennelly described two series of summer webinars that will provide a “deeper dive” into specific RDA topics. Thomas Brenndorfer (NARDAC representative to the RSC) provided information about RSC activities since ALA Midwinter, which included an overview of appellation elements, as well as a synopsis of aggregates and shortcut relationships. Kathy Glennan (chair of RSC) concluded the session with a presentation “Stable but not unchanging” that focused on the new processes for changing RDA that are under development.

The late afternoon agenda at the Saturday, June 22 meeting of CC:DA focused on “RDA in English is stable: Now what?” presented by RSC members. James Hennelly talked about the challenges of translating RDA into seven languages and announced that two new translations — Arabic and Hungarian — would be added to the Toolkit when the 3R Project is completed. He also described the work that is facing policy statement writers as they prepare both to adapt old policy statements and create new ones for the beta Toolkit. Thurstan Young talked about policy statements from the perspective of the British Library. He noted that the British Library will form a small working group comprised of experts in various formats who will examine policy statements, workflows, and application profiles this summer. Young also talked about the new MARC-RDA Working Group that is in the process of being formed, which will consider all issues related to the beta Toolkit in MARC, including new entities, new elements, and new vocabularies. The working group will begin in September 2019 and expects to present discussion papers to the MARC Advisory Committee at ALA Midwinter 2020 and proposals the following summer. Gordon Dunsire’s talk about “Customizing RDA for local applications” was short-circuited by a technology glitch, but his slide set is available online. Kathy Glennan spoke and answered questions about proposal development and the future processes for changing RDA.

The RDA Linked Data Forum on Monday, June 24, featured speaker Gordon Dunsire. Over 120 people heard Dunsire’s talk on “RDA linked data stuff,” which began with information about GitHub releases from the RDA Registry. The current beta Toolkit uses Release 3.2.0. Dunsire went on to describe “shortcuts,” a concept made explicit in the beta Toolkit, demonstrating with chains of triples. He also talked about element hierarchies in RDA, data inheritance, and database implementation scenarios. A lively question and answer period concluded the session.

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