Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st Century

By Elaine R. Sanchez | Go to book overview

2    AACR AND RDA: ONE CATALOGUER’S
REACTION

Helen Buhler


A NEW CODE WAS NEEDED

AACR 19671 was replaced by AACR22 in 1988, and that has undergone a series of revisions and updates since. New media have created new cataloguing situations, and the days when what crossed our desks was a book, a serial, or perhaps a microform, are long gone. Cataloguing is now mainly shared. The days are far behind us when the main outside sources of cataloguing were the Library of Congress printed cards or BNB (British National Biography) cards for the British, and perhaps membership in OCLC or BLCMP (Birmingham Libraries Mechanisation Project) for British libraries. Cataloguing is now international. Libraries take records from the source that has good-quality records, often from abroad if the book comes from another country. Our world has changed, and a new cataloguing code that is supposed to handle this change better than AACR2 is being tested as I write—RDA (Resource Description and Access).3 Cataloguers outside the Anglophone area expect RDA to be more responsive to their needs, and less Anglocentric in a multi-language and multi-script environment.

Since 2004, working cataloguers have been reading and commenting on successive drafts of each chapter of RDA. Online discussion lists have enabled us to be notified of the arrival of new chapters, and have encouraged us to comment on, criticise, and discuss this internationally. We know (more or less, barring major last-minute changes) what we’re going to get, although there is still a list of matters to be considered.

This is in complete contrast to earlier codes. I started cataloguing in October 1966 as Student Assistant (a pre-library school post) at Queen Mary College, University of London. The first version of AACR was almost due when my post ended, and I can remember much head-scratching about how we would file

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