Tema broja

Tomica Vrbanc
RDA – a cataloguing standard for the digital world

RDA (Resource Description and Access) may briefly be described as a new cataloguing standard developed by the Anglo-American library community and created as a result of the development of AACR (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules) and as its successor. Perhaps we should therefore first analyse the differences between these two standards, which are discernible from their very titles. Namely, it is easy to notice that nothing remained of the predecessor’s title and this in itself points to some significant differences between the two standards. Not identifying the new standard as “Anglo-American” indicates that the intention with RDA is to make it capable of adaptation in countries outside the Anglo- American area. As a matter of fact, the AACR already had a far-reaching influence and was applied outside the community in which it originated. It is also well-known that the Committee for Library Standards of the German National Library launched the initiative aimed at the replacement of the national cataloguing rules (Regeln für die alfabetische Katalogisierung - RAK) by AACR as early as 2001 and that since 2004 it has been actively involved in the development of RDA. This only gives us a brief glimpse at the international aspect of RDA, which will be discussed in greater detail later.
The other, more significant feature is the absence of the term “cataloguing rules” and the introduction of “resource description and access” in the new title. “Cataloguing“ as a concept has been replaced by two terms denoting the integral elements of the cataloguing process used in the traditional terminology – cataloguing description and the selection and formation of headings. The grounds for the changes in the title and the entire strategy for the development of the new standard may be found in the 2005 statement of purpose by the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA (JSC), a body responsible for the standard’s development and maintenance. According to this statement, the changes in title reflect the change in the form and scope of the new standard, which is “designed for the digital world”. In its 2005-2009 Strategic Plan the Committee stated providing “a consistent, flexible and extensible framework for both the technical and content description of all types of resources and all types of content” to be one of its principal long-term goals in the development of RDA. The introduction of the term resource has made the new standard open to new, digital forms of publishing of various contents, while the omission of the term cataloguing enabled its spreading and implementation outside the library community.


Full article available in the print edition.