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RDA: Resource, description and access

RDA: Resource, description and access is the new standard of cataloging that replaces the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd edition. RDA goes beyond earlier cataloging codes, because it provides guidelines on cataloging digital resources, and it is thinking to satisfy user needs and help them to find, identify, select and obtain the information they want. 

Responsible for developing RDA

RDA is a development by the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) for Development of RDA, together with representatives of the American Library Association, the Australian Committee on Cataloguing, the British Library, the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, del Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and the Library of Congress. The Committee of Principals (CoP) supervises the project. However, institutions from other countries are also encouraged to provide their comments. RDA is being developed with an understanding that it needs to be adaptable at international level, enabling other countries to translate it and adjust instructions to their local needs.

Avantages of using RDA

RDA provides immediate improvements and also the foundation for future enhancements. There are short-term advantages, especially on cataloguing process, and some others that will not be revealed until the software is able of fully exploiting the efficiency of data created under RDA. In conclusion, RDA is one of the key elements for the future of catalogues in the semantic web.

The current online catalogues are electronic versions of card catalogues, because their linear display is similar to textual information. They are based on the MARC format, a format that is not appropriate in the environment of the semantic web, because as much of the information is not enough identified in order to be syntactically analysed and manipulated by machine. The main role that library catalogues have had until now in the information world can be marginal in front of the new communications services on the web environment.

RDA positions the libraries into the linked data scene with the goal of sharing descriptive and authority data through the web with other communities that produce and manage information, reducing in this way cataloguing costs and enhancing user service.

RDA features:

  • RDA is based in the strengths of the AACR2 but it has been specially designed to facilitate the user tasks of finding, identified, selecting and acquiring the materials they need.
  • RDA provides a flexible framework for the description content of digital resources and it also fulfils the libraries needs to manage traditional resources.
  • RDA helps libraries to progress toward digital environment because it provides guidelines to produce accurate and interconnected metadata for cataloguing digital resources as well as for the traditional ones. In addition, it promotes the exchange of metadata among communities that use different schemes.
  • RDA offers a better adaptation to emerging technologies databases that will add efficiency in the harvesting and retrieving of stored data.

Acces to RDA 

RDA is an online resource subscribed through RDA Toolkit. It allows to navigate, annotate online, print out any of the content, bookmark specific instructions, search at several levels, store and share workflows and access other related cataloguing tools.

Every year, an English print version is also published, which replaces the previous one. More information available at: RDA print.

Translations available

Currently there are several translations of RDA:  Spanish, French, German, etc., available at RDA Toolkit, and there is a print version in Chinese.

Catalan translation

The Catalan version translated by Assumpció Estivill Rius has been available in PDF format on the website of the Library of Catalonia from January 2016 until April 2017. From April is available online through the RDA Toolkit, under subscription.