RDA UpdatesApril 12, 2012
With RDA Updates expected to be extensive in the build-up to implementation, we decided not to create a companion website for Practical Cataloguing (Facet, 2012), but I will cover major changes here on this blog.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the hardest decisions about our recent book was when there would be time in all the RDA changes to get Practical Cataloguing through the press before another set of major changes was released. I can confess now that I’ve been holding my breath since January, when the JSC announced that “major changes to the RDA content would appear twice a year (in 2012, in April and October releases of the Toolkit)” (JSC RDA Updating Process, 2012).
This week the April changes were announced. As described on the RDA Toolkit’s email to subscribers and blog
The release includes the addition of an RDA Update History section in the RDA browse tab. The RDA Update history includes tables summarizing the major changes included in the updates and archives of the past versions of the instructions. The table describes only changes that arose from formal JSC proposals, it does not include minor changes and corrections.
Update History icons appear in the RDA instruction display where major changes have occurred. The icons link to the appropriate location in the Instruction Archive.
Alongside a long list of minor amendments, the major change in content from the JSC has been amendments to the RDA Element Set. I’ll be honest, I’ve found this a bit hard to navigate on the Toolkit, so I’m glad that the JSC’s own website includes an amended table as a pdf, with the catchy title 6JSC/RDA/Element analysis table. This table (and the earlier version it replaces) is useful in working out when a piece of information we wish to record pertains to an item and when it pertains to a manifestation. For example, a note on acquisition clearly pertains to the item (because it’s about the specific copy we hold) while a note on the title most likely pertains to the manifestation (because it pertains to every copy of a particular imprint).
The new version of the table recognises that notes can be required at expression level too, and so has added in a section entitled “Note on expression” and changed a previous section called simply “Note” to the less snappy but more accurate “Note on manifestation or item.”
These changes are clearly important. However, from a pragmatic point of view, they are unlikely to disturb those of us who are not cataloguing using RDA yet. In fact, they’re part of the structural clarifications we’ve been seeking prior to implementation.
I look forward, as ever to reading discussion on RDA-L and AUTOCAT about the latest developments in the new standard, but I’m relieved that, in principle, RDA remains as it was, with the principles regarding Works, Expressions, Manifestations and Items (inherited largely from FRBR) still as described in Practical Cataloguing chapter 5 (pp. 83-104; top of p. 94 shown).