[The joint statement of LC, NLM and NAL was inadvertently left off the earlier email with the letter from Deanna Marcum. We apologize for the inconvenience. - FLICC]
Joint Statement of the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, and the National Agricultural Library on Resource Description and Access
May 1, 2008
Leaders of the Library of Congress (LC), the National Library of Medicine (NLM), and the National Agricultural Library (NAL) met on March 10, 2008 to discuss the recommendation from On the Record: the Report of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control to suspend work on RDA.
The group agreed that the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA's work on Resource Description and Access (RDA) is an important international initiative that has been underway for several years and is one that requires continued collaboration with our international partners who have joined with the United States in a global initiative
to update bibliographic practices to make the library resources more accessible and useful to users. The participants also agreed that their decisions whether or not to implement this new standard must be made jointly. Further, participants agreed that LC, NLM, and NAL have collective leadership responsibilities to assist the U.S. library and
information community to remain relevant and vital in an increasingly digital future. Key to this role is providing a broad assessment and commitment to RDA if they believe this standard will further national strategic goals for improved bibliographic control and access.
Colleagues from NLM and NAL are most concerned that a systematic review of RDA has not yet been possible and, given the potential magnitude and broad impact of the changes, such a review is essential. While draft chapters of RDA have been available, a clear, concise, and cohesive understanding of the overall impact of the entire standard is needed. Until the completion of the rules and the availability of the RDA online tool, reviewers will not be able fully to assess their impact on:
--Description, access, and navigation practices for a broad array of users and types of materials
--Current and future electronic carriers and information management systems to support RDA goals
--Estimated costs for implementation and maintenance during a time of flat, even reduced, budgets
The three national libraries agreed on the following approach: First, we jointly commit to further development and completion of RDA. Second, following its completion, a decision to implement the rules will be based upon the positive evaluation of RDA's utility within the library and information environment, and criteria reflecting the technical,
operational, and financial implications of the new code. This will include an articulation of the business case for RDA, including benefits to libraries and end users and cost analyses for retraining staff and re-engineering cataloging processes.
Together, we will:
--Jointly develop milestones for evaluating how we will implement RDA
--Conduct tests of RDA that determine if each milestone has been reached; paying particular attention to the benefits and costs of implementation
--Widely distribute analyses of benefits and costs for review by the U.S. library community
--Consult with the vendor and bibliographic utility communities to address their concerns about RDA
Included among the tests that will be developed to assist in formulating implementation decisions:
--Usability testing with cataloging staff, i.e. librarians and technicians, experienced and newer staff from the three national libraries in consultation with representatives from the U.S. library community (including OCLC and library vendors) about its participation
in the process
--Testing of records for a broad array of materials created during usability studies to determine compatibility with existing record sets and ensuring records are usable and understandable for our end users
--Testing the feasibility of integrating this new cataloging standard into all relevant technology systems
The three institutions agreed that these steps will be followed and, if there is a decision to implement RDA, that the implementation would not occur before the end of 2009.
The collective resolve is to complete the development of RDA, to conduct appropriate tests that will inform and involve the broader U.S. library community as to the utility of the code, and to ensure a product that is useful, usable, and cost effective. The Library of Congress will continue to work with its international colleagues on the Joint Steering
Committee for Development of RDA and the Committee of Principals and keep them apprised of the evaluation progress and outcomes as the three national libraries, representing their constituents, undertake the tests outlined above.