While finishing the book, I’m preparing classes for the cataloguing component of Advanced Cataloguing and Classification and the presentation on the education of cataloguers at the RDA Briefing.
All this takes me to Troy Linker’s presentation on the RDA Toolkit which, combined with my experience writing a cataloguing book based only on the pdf drafts, leads me to the conclusion that we’re not going to be able to teach RDA without the technology of the toolkit.
You may well be surprised by my shocked italics – I’ve been an advocate of Web 2.0 since the internet opened itself up to us non-techies and I use multi-media in my teaching. Our class on 1 March will include part of Linker’s webinar, a whizz through my online timeline of cataloguing codes as well as lots of real-world discussion and examples.
What’s the difference here? Cataloger’s Desktop and WebDewey have been around for years. And I am in the camp of those pushing for a print version of RDA for smaller libraries, am I not?
Thing is, all of these other products have been created with an analog mentality and then translated to online and given a few more bells and whistles. RDA has been conceived and will be born digital.
It’s not just a book with a few HTML links. There are:
- AACR2 rule numbers embedded as metadata within RDA, facilitating search by the rules we already know to discover the rules we don’t know yet
- RDA Element Set and other glossaries one-click away from the RDA rules that use them
- Mapping tables embedded and cataloguers can create further maps and embed them too
- Workflows, where institutions can keep their own local policies and integrate them with the wider code
- Library Management Systems linking in from the input screens cataloguers actually use, day-to-day (TBC)
What does this mean for teaching? Well, notwithstanding my position that we need a cheap-access (print) version of RDA for those who can’t afford the toolkit, it’s obvious that students will need practice using the software before hitting any realworld cataloguing department.
More importantly, the toolkit offers opportunities for students to:
- Get under the bonnet of the code and its development
- Translate existing AACR2 knowledge to RDA
- Relate RDA to MARC21 and / or other codes and standards
- Create their own cataloguing policies (which they do for assessment in Cataloguing and Classification) and link them into the bigger picture, embedding RDA within
- Use mapping tables in a dynamic way to gain a deeper understanding
And, most importantly of all:
- The non-analog structure means that they can create their own understanding of RDA in their own order, while the integrity of RDA is maintained.
In short, if RDA works out (and we await the results of the national trials), this could be the technological teaching advance I’ve been waiting for, so that while I teach mainly about books, cataloguing students post-AACR2 will cease this (false) expectation:
[Disclaimer: this post expresses solely my opinion, and does not represent my department, teaching programme, publisher or any other associate]