Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Ball State University Libraries: Implementing RDA for Digital Libraries: (A Collaboration between Cataloging and Metadata Librarians)

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Ball State University Libraries: Implementing RDA for Digital Libraries: (A Collaboration between Cataloging and Metadata Librarians)

Article excerpt

Both users and librarians dream of a world in which all of their materials can be effortlessly and simultaneously searched. Someday, clicking on a single authorized access point or personal name will seamlessly lead a user to all of the relevant books, archival resources, and digital collections. However, for that hope to become a reality, librarians will need to make sure that their resources are integrating properly. Ideally, all of these materials would be described in a consistent manner, based on the same rules and with the same controlled vocabularies. That level of resource integration will require not only intervention by individual human librarians, but also collaboration between library departments.

The primary force changing how cataloging librarians describe their materials is Resource Description and Access (RDA). RDA is a cataloging standard that provides instructions and guidelines on formulating data for resource description and discovery, succeeding AARC2 (1978-2010, with its last major revision in 2002). RDA is organized based on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), which requires catalogers to describe materials in terms of Work, Expression, Manifestation, and Item. This has also led to major changes in how MARC records are made. New fields have been created, new subfields have been added to pre-existing fields, and the recommended wording for some fields has changed. RDA has caused major changes to authority records, thousands of which have been revised by the Library of Congress (LC).

Cataloging librarians have generally done an excellent job in navigating the transition to RDA. Many librarians who work in special collections, digital libraries, or IT are less aware of RDA, though. Many of them did not attend their institutions' RDA training, have not read about RDA in the professional literature, and are not regularly communicating with cataloging librarians about their local implementation of RDA. Since RDA affects multiple library departments, each library department should make good-faith efforts to determine if it is in compliance with RDA.

Background of the Project

In summer 2013, Ball State University Libraries (BSU Libraries) began a project to bring its Digital Media Repository (DMR) into closer compliance with RDA. The DMR is a digital library created and managed by BSU Libraries. It currently contains more than 200 collections, totaling 200,000-plus items, in various formats. There are several RDA experts at BSU Libraries, most notably the members of cataloging and metadata services (CAMS). But there were no RDA experts in metadata and digital initiatives (MADI), which is the department directly responsible for the creation and maintenance of the DMR. Everyone knew that the DMR was not in full compliance with RDA, but no one knew exactly how far out of compliance it was.

The benefits for greater RDA compliance are numerous. The website for the RDA Toolkit confirms that RDA is "[d]esigned for the digital world and an expanding universe of metadata users...." Its primary usage may still be "the new, unified cataloging standard," but RDA also provides guidance to non-catalogers on description, authority control, and word choice, etc. Greater RDA compliance would help the DMR to better integrate with other information resources, both within BSU Libraries (i.e., the OneSearch federated searching utility) and in the world at large (for instance, Google). RDA compliance is in line with the core values of the DMR, which include consistency, specificity, and standardization.

Thankfully, CAMS and MADI already had a lengthy history of successful collaborations. Prior to the creation of MADI, all metadata for digital collections was created in CAMS. As the DMR grew, it became clear that more specialized staff and a separate department were needed. However, CAMS and MADI still collaborate on some collections, especially large or difficult ones. …

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