Resource Description and Access

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Resource Description and Access (RDA) is a standard for cataloguing that provides instructions and guidelines on formulating data for resource description and discovery. Intended for use by libraries and other cultural organizations such as museums and archives, RDA is the successor to the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Second Edition (AACR2), the current cataloging standard set for English language libraries. RDA was initially released in June 2010.[1] In March 2012, the Library of Congress announced it will have fully implemented RDA cataloging by March 31, 2013. Several other national libraries including the British Library, Library and Archives Canada, National Library of Australia, and Deutsche Nationalbibliothek also planned to implement RDA in 2013.[2]


RDA emerged from the International Conference on the Principles & Future Development of AACR held in Toronto in 1997.[3] It was quickly realised[by whom?] that substantial revision of AACR2 was required, which encouraged the adoption of a new title for what had been envisaged as a third edition of AACR.

The primary distinction between RDA and AACR is structural. RDA is organised based on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR). These principles identify both the 'user tasks' which a library catalog should make possible and a hierarchy of relationships in bibliographic data.[4] Descriptions produced using the instructions of RDA are intended to be compatible with any coding schema, including the data environments used for existing records created under the AACR2 rules.[4]

RDA is published jointly by the American Library Association, the Canadian Library Association, and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in the UK. RDA instructions and guidelines are available through RDA Toolkit, an online subscription site, and in a print format. Maintenance of RDA is the responsibility of the Joint Steering Committee for the Development of RDA (JSC). The JSC is composed of representatives from the American Library Association, the Australian Committee on Cataloguing, the British Library, the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, CILIP, Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, and the Library of Congress.[5]


In the U.S., the cataloguing community expressed reservations about the new standard in regard to both the business case for RDA in a depressed economy and the value of the standard's stated goals.[6] Michael Gorman, one of the authors of AACR2, was particularly vocal in expression of his opposition to the new guidelines, claiming that RDA was poorly written and organized, and that the plan for RDA unnecessarily abandoned established cataloging practices.[7] In response to these concerns, the three United States national libraries (Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, and the National Agricultural Library) organized a nation-wide test of the new standard.

U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee report[edit]

On 13 June 2011, the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, and the National Library of Medicine released the results of their testing.[8] The test found that RDA to some degree met most of the goals that the JSC put forth for the new code and failed to meet a few of those goals. The Coordinating Committee admitted that they "wrestled with articulating a business case for implementing RDA", nevertheless the report recommended that RDA be adopted by the three national libraries, contingent on several improvements being made.[8] The earliest possible date for implementation was given as January 2013, as the consensus emerging from the analysis of the test data showed that while there were discernible benefits to implementing RDA, these benefits would not be realized without further changes to current cataloging practices, including developing a successor to the MARC format.[8][9]

International reception[edit]

RDA was developed to be an international standard and is in step with the Statement of International Cataloguing Principles published by IFLA in 2009. RDA is also in step with established international display and encoding standards.[4] The emergence of the European RDA Interest Group (EURIG) and the addition of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek as a member of the JSC [10] signaled interest in RDA beyond the English-speaking library community.

RDA Vocabularies[edit]

The first set of RDA Vocabularies was published on the Open Metadata Registry in August 2011. The creation and publication of stable forms of RDA elements and controlled vocabularies/concepts makes RDA-created data accessible as open linked data for builders of applications. Alan Danskin, Chair of the Joint Steering Committee in 2011, noted, "The RDA vocabularies are a fundamental component of RDA, promoting consistent description and discovery of bibliographic resources. The Committee is committed to publishing and maintaining the content of the RDA vocabularies, synchronized with the text of RDA, in order to support their use by the resource description community and by developers of Semantic Web applications." [11]

RDA Blog[edit]

The standard has an associated blog, , [12][13] The blog is an attempt to bring together at one place the information, rules, references, news, and links on Resource Description and Access, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD), FRSAD, MARC standards, AACR2, Bibliographic Framework Initiative[14] and other items related to current developments and trends in library cataloging practice. RDA blog includes links to RDA training resources.[15]

The blog  has a collection of short posts on best practice LC-PCC guidelines.[16] The blog  became more active after the Library of Congress announced RDA implementation date to be March 31, 2013 and started Long-Range RDA Training Plan.[17][18] By August 2013, it had over 41,000 page views since its creation in August 2011. It has appeared consistently in the first page(s) of the search results of GoogleBing, and Yandex.[19] It is archived at Wayback Machine.[20] There is a Google+ Community for RDA Cataloging having more than 300 members, which discusses the posts of the RDA blog.[21][22] As of August 7, 2013, the blog had a Technorati rank of 72177[23] and according to PRLOG website it had Alexa rank of 27245754.[24]


  1. ^ Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. "RDA: Resource Description and Access - Background". Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  2. ^ Library of Congress. "Library of Congress Announces Its Long-Range RDA Training Plan". March 2, 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  3. ^ Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. International Conference on the Principles & Future Development of AACR.
  4. ^ a b c Oliver, Chris (2010). Introducing RDA: a guide to the basics. ALA Editions. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-8389-3594-1. 
  5. ^ Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. "Overview". Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  6. ^ Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. "Testing Resource Description and Access (RDA)". Retrieved 31 January 2011. 
  7. ^ Gorman, Michael. "RDA: The coming cataloguing debacle". Retrieved 31 January 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c "Report and Recommendations of the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee on the implementation of RDA—Resource Description & Access". Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Library of Congress. "A Bibliographic Framework for the Digital Age". 31 October 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  10. ^ Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. "Outcomes of the Meeting of the Joint Steering Committee Held in Glasgow, Scotland, 1-4 November 2011". Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  11. ^ Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. "First RDA Vocabularies Published." 1 August 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  12. ^ Cunycataloging. "RDA powerpoints and other resources. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  13. ^ Library Professionals. "Cataloging related blog". Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  14. ^ Library of Congress. "Bibliographic Framework Initiative". Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  15. ^ Jackson State Community College. [1]. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  16. ^ Library Resources & Access. "RDA Blog: LC-PCC Best Practices Guidelines". Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  17. ^ Library of Congress. "Library of Congress Announces Its Long-Range RDA Training Plan. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  18. ^ Library of Congress. "Library of Congress,RDA Training Plan for 2012 - March 30, 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  19. ^ MetaCrawler. [2]. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  20. ^ Wayback Machine. "Resource Description & Access (RDA)". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  21. ^ Catalogablog. "RDA Cataloging on Google+". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  22. ^ RDA Cataloging. "RDA Cataloging on Google+". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  23. ^ Technorati. "Technorati Blog Directory". Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  24. ^ PRLOG. "Site Highlights for Resource Description & Access (RDA)". Retrieved 7 August 2013.

External links[edit]