Tuesday, December 8, 2009

FW: [RDA-L] www.rdaonline.org

Christoph Schmidt-Supprian wrote:
A very interesting project - and one I've told all my colleagues to watch. But as long as there are no detailed AACR2-type rules (so far only the various rule interpretations seem to be available), this is not a replacement for AACR2 or RDA. It strikes me that, at least so far, this site is rather an alternative to Cataloger's Desktop than to RDA. In other words, it's an aggregator of rule sets, not a replacement of any one set of rules.

The Cooperative Cataloging Rules initiative is not designed as a replacement for anything. There are two separate parts to it.
First, it is a continuation of what we have been doing and second, a common meeting-ground with other metadata communities for discussion of bibliographical concepts.

1) The sections at: http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/library-of-congress-rule-interpretations and http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/isbd-areas
To use this site correctly, catalogers need to retain their copies of AACR2. Then, the rule interpretations from the Library of Congress, which your library, and any library, follows every time anyone accepts a record with 040 $aDLC$cDLC or from any other library that follows LC cataloging. These rule interpretations are now more widely available, and you can interact with them, through the CCR. AACR2 is under copyright. Therefore, you need to keep your copy of AACR2, while the supplementing rules (in many cases, rules that are far more readable, more understandable, and more useful) are available online for everyone.

The ISBD is available on the web to everyone and it serves as the basis for AACR2. Therefore, there are links into the ISBD because we can't put AACR2 online.

The CCR can provide new resources for catalogers, e.g. a page made by Becky Yoose on cataloging kits at: http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/kits. Even though it is still a work in progress, it is useful already, and for others in the Wiki, it can be built cooperatively.

RDA is intended to replace AACR2 and the LC Rule Interpretations and this will involve costs of retooling and retraining, plus subscription costs. The reason for the CCR initiative is that many libraries simply cannot do this since we are going through the terrible budget cuts, and my library is one of those. There can be no discussion about this. In addition, I have brought up very serious theoretical questions as to the correctness of the RDA/FRBR model, and that it is highly probable that this model is obsolete. So, it is not wise to spend lots of money and resources to make a better horse & buggy which will be ignored in our modern information society, at a time when we need to provide something genuinely useful for our public. What our public needs from information and how they interact with it is highly unclear because we are in a transitional moment, although much research is going on right now.

Therefore, I feel that options are absolutely necessary for libraries today. Cataloging rules need to continue to develop when work on AACR2 and the LCRIs ceases, and now the CCR will be able to continue to follow and develop the rules we already use. In this way, libraries have the simplest option to *continue doing what we have done* until there is some kind of clarity on how we should best prepare ourselves for the future and how best to spend our resources. For instance, it is a no-brainer that MARC21/ISO2709 format absolutely must change, and I believe it is only after some real experiments have been made in sharing our records with the public, how they accept them and what they do with them, that we can begin to decide how we should continue.

If this is a revolution, it is probably one of the most conservative revolutions I can imagine. While I think we can all agree that we desperately need basic, fundamental changes, in my opinion, RDA provides only cosmetic changes. As I have written in other posts, RDA does not attempt to solve the fundamental problems faced by libraries, catalogs, cataloging, or our users. While I have great respect and admiration for those in this effort, someone must take a stand at this highly important juncture and proclaim: This is the wrong road to choose. And thus the Cooperative Cataloging Rules.

This leads me to the second part of the CCR.

2) The sections at: http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/conceptual-outline and http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/cataloging-ru
To help determine what needs to be done, the CCR also attempts to bring different rules and practices together. If we are to cooperate with other metadata communities as everyone says we must, it cannot be a case of: everyone else can change everything they do to follow our rules, and then we can cooperate. Cooperation means change from everyone concerned, and that can only come from a common understanding of what everyone means, and what everyone does. Therefore, we must begin to understand the rules and practices of others, and the CCR attempts to provide this common meeting ground in an open and cooperative fashion.

This dual purpose may not be very clear in the CCR as it is now. During the Christmas break, I will try to redesign the main page to make this clearer.


James L. Weinheimer
Director of Library and Information Services
The American University of Rome
Rome, Italy

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