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Report from SLA Toronto Solo Group Fall Session: RDA – Future of Cataloguing

“RDA (Resource, Description and Access) Cataloguing Rules and Their Potential Impact on a Special Library” – what a mouthful! This was the official name of a very timely and informative presentation organized by the SLA Toronto Solos on October 19, 2011. The interesting topic attracted quite a large audience (25 participants is a record high number for a solo session).

We were thrilled to have Mark Rose (Information Services Manager at the Intergovernmental Committee on Urban and Regional Research) present. Mark is an extremely busy solo librarian with a remarkable passion for cataloguing and technology, among other things. He is one of few Toronto librarians who tested converting his library catalogue records to conform with RDA. I would like to express my big thanks for all the efforts, sleepless nights and countless corrections Mark built into this session.

Mark first gave us some background information on AACR2’s demise and how RDA came about. He reviewed the core concepts, principles and elements of RDA – a standard designed for digital world. RDA is based on two models: FRBR (Functional requirements for Bibliographic Records) and FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data). A number of examples of how the new rules deviate from AACR2 included a long list; I’ll name just a few here: vocabulary changes; entity-relationship database model; enter as found; and, removal of abbreviations. Various FRBR types of “entities” as well as different content, media and carrier types were also covered.

The lessons learned following Mark’s “uncompleted” catalogue conversion project, offered some really valuable observations:

  • Library system vendors don’t provide much support for the conversion and a few are only starting to look   into it (you will need lots of time and money to set aside for conversion)
  • Benefits of new rules for the end users are difficult to assess/measure
  • Return on investment for making the conversion is still unclear
  • Bibliographic records will be longer (space may be an issue for fields and database size)
  • The standard seems to work well in theory, but in practice remains to be seen
  • Must think how the OPAC could be modified to make use of the new fields and relationships

The time and space limitations didn’t allow for showing record examples side by side (the presentation could easily hit over 50 slides), so our speaker recommended the best RDA training modules and comparison presentations (to which an addendum was made via email).

For anyone planning an RDA conversion, the summary of required changes (slides 29-30) provides a great starting point. That is where you get an idea about a potential impact on your library. Don’t forget the RDA toolkit and regular free workshops: RDA Essentials. Add to that the selection of RDA resources and you are good to go. If you are just starting to catalogue your collection from a scratch, you should be exploring the RDA rules to ensure standards compliance in the future.

Mark’s presentation (Google docs) is posted on the Toronto Solos’ wiki (login required) and LinkedIn group discussion. Brenda Wong blogged about the workshop at:

The recent Library of Congress announcements show how RDA issues could be evolving for a very long time. Stay tuned.

Amra Porobic, M.L.S., is Manager of Library Services for the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). Prior to taking on the position of the Chair of the Toronto Chapter Solo Subgroup in May 2008, Amra co-chaired the group with Jasmina Landekic from 2000-2001. Amra has been a solo librarian since the onset of her IBC career in 1998. A member of TALL, AIIM, and ARMA, she can be reached at, or via LinkedIn where she manages the Solo group discussions.

IBC has been sponsoring Solo events since 2008.

Posted in V49-N1-Fall 2011, Volume 49Comments (0)

RDA Cataloguing Presentation

SLA Toronto Solo Group invites you to a presentation about the RDA (Resource, Description and Access) cataloguing rules and their potential impact on a special library. The presentation will review the core concepts of RDA, showcase examples of how the new rules deviate from AACR2, highlight a number of issues for libraries with non-MARC systems, and consider the benefits and drawbacks of RDA for a small library. The presenter will touch upon issues encountered in a recent test conversion project (15,000 records).

About the presenter:
Mark Phillip Rose has been with the Intergovernmental Committee on Urban and Regional Research for over ten years. His latest title is Information Services Manager. Aside from singularly managing all of the library’s functions, Mark is responsible for looking after the organization’s two websites, and acts as the first line of support for the computer systems. During his tenure, Mark assisted with the launch of three websites, brought the catalogue manual closer to compliance with AACR2, revised the ICURR subject thesaurus, edited the ICURR newsletter, and launched a knowledge management WIKI. His interests include computers and technology, library processes and innovations, and cooking.

Date: Oct 19, 2011
Time: 12:30-1:30 pm

Location: Insurance Bureau of Canada
777 Bay Street, Suite 2400
Presidents’ Boardroom
Toronto, ON, Canada
M5G 2C8


Conference call options are available, but limited. Contact Amra if you want to participate by phone.  

Refreshments will be served. Bring your own lunch if you wish.

Contact information:

Amra Porobic –
416-362-2031 ext. 4350

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