Monday, June 13, 2011

My Continued Intellectual Wrestling Match with RDA

When I first read through the drafts of RDA, I didn't think it felt very different from AACRII, and I seem to remember telling someone that at the time. It set them at ease, which was nice I suppose. It made me very uneasy. Because there are only two paths from there: either I am an idiot incapable of understanding how fundamentally this is changing everything (terrifying), or there's not that much change yet an extra 500 pages of material (unlikely?). I really hoped that it was the former.

Then someone posted in the comments a few days ago that they didn't think that RDA changed much in the way that we catalog, day-to-day (they were apparently part of a testing site). I don't like that, because if it doesn't, does that mean we didn't need RDA in the first place, but rather a reinterpretation of the rules of AACRII? Or does it mean that once we get something more flexible and attuned to RDA than MARC, the whole game will change again and we'll need to reinterpret RDA again? Either way that comment made me uncomfortable because it just reinforced what I already felt.

I really want RDA to be different. I want it to do all the things that the visionaries want it to do. But I also have this feeling that we're all so entrenched in the traditions of cataloging that we're almost incapable of making fundamental changes to our rules. Maybe we should start an Ender's Game-esque school for kids, where they do whatever they want, without foreknowledge of the rules, and teach us all a lot about military strategy cataloging.


Jennifer Parsons said...

It looks like Dartmouth College and tiltfactor have already started in on that games thing:

Abigail said...

I absolutely agree with your thoughts on RDA. Another issue is that there are sections that aren't even finished yet. So, how are the testers testing something that isn't even completed?!

I want real changes for cataloging, not just a bunch of "new" rules that sound an awful lot like the old ones.

arkham said...

While day-to-day cataloging with RDA does not HAVE to change what we do (and for most, won't for some time), it has the potential to do so.
In particular, the entity-relationship model on which RDA is based has the potential to allow data linking in ways we can't do with current tools.
One key in moving in that direction is, imo, moving beyond MARC, and it looks like LC is finally looking at doing just that.
While we work in MARC and legacy ILS environments, not much will change - but the potential for change is there - we just need an environment that takes advantage of that potential.

"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.