RDA Too Young for DCRMApril 13, 2012
It’s been a week of big announcements in the cataloguing world: firstly the first release of major updates to RDA and now, today (13 April), the Rare Books and Manuscripts of the Association of College and Research Libraries of the American Library Association released a statement from their Bibliographic Standards Committee that, for the main, and until RDA’s impact is clearer, rare book cataloguers should use Descriptive Cataloguing for RareMaterials (DCRM) in preference to RDA:
The Bibliographic Standards Committee of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section advises catalogers using Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (DCRM) for books and serials—DCRM(B) and DCRM(S)—to continue for the time being to follow the rules, options, and alternatives as written. Do not attempt to incorporate elements or practices based on Resource Description and Access (RDA) into descriptions based on DCRM. This instruction does not apply to the choice or form of headings in the bibliographic record, which are outside the scope of DCRM. Bibliographic records with the description conforming to DCRM, regardless of whether the headings are AACR2 or RDA, should still be coded ‘a’ in LDR/18, and ‘dcrmb’ or ‘dcrms’ in 040 ‡e. (DCRM-RDA Task Force webpage)
John Overholt probably spoke for many of us when he tweeted “Rare book catalogers advised to ignore RDA for now, thousands cheer” in his link to the announcement. Certainly the special collections community has been holding its breath since RDA was first mooted during the preparation of DCRM(B):
DCRM(B) was already well underway when work on RDA: Resource Description and Access (then called AACR3) was announced. The DCRM(B) editors briefly considered, then rejected, postponing further work until after RDA’s publication. We agreed it would be unwise to delay, given the progress already made on DCRM(B) and the considerable investment to date of time, labor and money. (DCRM(B): 7).
Although DCRM(B) takes cognisance of other standards, it is really based on AACR2, Library of Congress Rule Interpretations, and, of course, ISBD. So the structural changes between AACR2 and RDA are potentially problematic at a fundamental level. John Attig and Robert Maxwell produced a very useful overview for the RBMS in 2010, entitled Reconsidering DCRM in the light of RDA: a discussion paper.
Following discussion of this paper at the RBMS Midwinter 2011, a task force was established to consider the impact of RDA on DCRM. It was charged to:
1. Submit a report containing an expanded, more in-depth analysis of the issues and options presented in the Attig/Maxwell discussion paper, along with recommendations for next steps by BSC.
2. Assist BSC in coordinating decisions on particular DCRM/RDA issues which would affect DCRM modules currently being developed; and, using those decisions as a guide, create a single set of implementation decisions for all DCRM modules, including those already published.
3. Coordinate with moderators of BSC-sponsored discussion session on DCRM and RDA at 2012 Preconference in San Diego to insure consistent presentation of issues and recommendations.
4. As necessary and appropriate, suggest rewording to JSC of problematic areas of RDA related to rare materials cataloging. (Bibliographic Standards Committee Task Force on DCRM and RDA: 2).
This week’s announcement is both a strong and a pragmatic position. The Task Force will continue to monitor the development of RDA, not only for the benefit of those of us using current DCRM standards (Books and Serials) but for their colleagues developing other DCRM modules. The Task Force’s webpage will continue to be a major source of information for those of us interested both in special collections cataloguing and in the development of RDA.
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