It is with considerable temerity that I embark on a dispute with a much more experienced colleague (and a teacher of cataloguing to boot) but there are two statements in this with which I simply do not agree.

The first is, that RDA should follow MARC and order the rules according to the tag order of MARC fields. Yes, in practical cataloguing we fill in electronic worksheets which prompt for fields in MARC order - but before we ever begin to fill in the form we should first have examined the item in hand and decided for ourselves which are the significant data elements for inclusion and which cataloguing rules apply. Cataloguing rules and principles must come first; MARC is only the framework into which we fit them. Part of my selection process for cataloguers is to ask them, as part of the interview, to talk me through how they would catalogue two or three pre-selected items. What I am looking for is the ability to find the chief source of information and to identify those pieces of information which AACR would require in the catalogue record. This demonstrates to me that the candidate has a proper understanding of the rules. As long as they have that, they can learn MARC relatively easily (indeed, I do not regard knowledge of MARC as a pre-requisite). The candidates who make me squirm and who fail are those who cannot catalogue without prompting from an electronic form - who have learnt the MARC structure first and then try to cram into it the information that they find in or on the item in hand. This leads to all sorts of error - the most obvious one being, that since the 1xx field comes first, it is the most important and there must be something to put in it. Understanding the rules and principles also means that they are transferable and can be applied to a variety of materials - in the New Year we are to begin cataloguing a toy library - and heaven help anyone who starts from a MARC form alone when faced with a Roboraptor. Please let us regard MARC as a servant (a very useful one) to AACR/RDA - and not AACR/RDA as a manual to MARC. 

The second is, that [s.l.] and [s.n.] should be retained. Having just argued in favour of transferability, I acknowledge the benefits of sharing records and the desirability of doing so with as little local editing as possible. However, only the old (amongst whom I count myself) are likely to have any knowledge of Latin and I dislike anything in the catalogue which smacks of exclusivity. Library users should not be faced with language they do not understand or be expected to learn special terms. A universal standard wherever possible - but not one which is universally incomprehensible.

With much of the rest I agree and would add a general "Hurrah!" for RDA, even if it is going to take a bit of getting used to.

Best wishes to all for 2006!

Heather Jardine
City of London Libraries.

-----Original Message-----
From: MARC [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of J. McRee Elrod
Sent: 28 December 2005 17:10
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: RDA and MARC

With the posting of the RDA draft at:

one can't help wondering reading it just what the impact upon MARC w development might be.  In teaching cataloguing, I follow the order of MARC fields in teaching AACR2, since that is the order the students as novice cataloguers will deal with the data.  RDA follows neither ISBD nor MARC in order.

Un terms of the goal of being written in understandable language, the authors and editors have done a suburb job.  Only occasionally did I have to stop and wonder what something meant, e.g, standard numbers being called "resource identifiers"; isn't the whole bibliographic record a resource identifier?

When cataloguing, we tend to do so using a MARC electronic worksheet which has MARC21 fields in tag order.  When I say I prefer ISBD order to the new RDA order. what I really mean is that, as I said above, I prefer rules in the order in which the elements are encountered on an electronic worksheet.  I'm not convinced there is good reason to depart from ISBD order (which MARC21 order pretty well follows from 245-5XX).  In particular, I find having traced titles and notes mixed in with descriptive elements difficult.  There will be a lot of scrolling up and down (if one follows RDA), or flipping back and forth (if one uses print RDA following a MARC21 worksheet).

I assume Chapter 3 will cover GMD, SMD, and collation, which are not covered in Chapter 2, where they would occur in MARC21, i.e., after title proper, and after date of publication.

In terms of punctuation in examples (using MARC21 shorthand), only one hyphen is used in 362 and 502, making what should be a dash appear confusing to me.  I would prefer two hyphens for a dash when closed up on both sides.

One of the basic objectives of the ISBDs is that an item may be catalogued once in the country of publication, and then that description used internationally.  The RDA substitution of English phrases, e.g., "[publisher unknown]" or "[Publisher unknown]" (this phrase is inconsistently given), with the phrases in other languages introduced in other language libraries, strikes at the heart of that basic purpose.  In our case, we would have to go through the labour intensive task of establishing those phrases in a variety of languages, as well as having unwanted duplicates of the record in our files with the phrases in those various languages.  This is an RDA practice we will *not* substitute for the AACR2 more universal Latin abbreviations.  What language would we use for WHO, a library in a bilingual country serving an international patronage?  Latin abbreviations are a useful compromise in a multilingual situation.

Bilingual catalogues use 040$b to determine the language used for display constants, e.g., a record with 040$bfre would have French phrases used for the 246 2nd indicators.  This allows us to have one record serving libraries with English, French, or bilingual catalogues.

There is also the matter of the relative length of "et al". vs. "and others", "s.n." vs. "publisher unknown", in terms of what appears in a one line display or printed new titles list.

It is good that in 0.1.9 we are told that examples will use ISBD punctuation.  It frees examples from supplied "[by]" and the like, as was done before ISBD's "/".

The introduction (1.1.1) is very well written.

In most cases experienced cataloguers will know what MARC21 tag applies to which element of RDA description.  But sometimes it is not so clear.  For example for, 1.2.3 multilevel description, in which the description of the whole and the description of the parts are in a single record, even with the example at D.1.4, it is not clear to me what elements will be coded how.  Without UKMARC's 248, it's hard to picture what the coded record will look like.  Why was 248 rejected with other elements of UK and CAN MARC were added to MARC21?

The distinction between major title changes (1.3) and minor (as listed in b) does not include as minor a single issue change as recently discussed on Autocat, and covered by CONSER but not AACR2.  
Perhaps this deserves inclusion, as well as allowing the reopening of a record when a serial reverts to an earlier title, as opposed to having two records with the same 245 for the same publication as now.  
We've never had a customer which will accept the three records for Atlanic/Atlaning monthy for example, another minor change which should be added, with perhaps 247 allowed for more than integrating resources.

The list of mandatory elements (1.4) includes Extent 300 (even though not covered in this draft), but does not include place of publication 260$a .  The latter is a major oversight from my point of view.  Our law firm library customers consider jurisdiction of publication far more important than name of publisher - some of whom are international.

The option to provide controlled access points rather than transcribed elements is one which I hope can be removed.  I do *not* want to return to missing statements of responsibility in 245$c when it is the same as the prime entry in 1XX.  As we all know, the form of the personal or corporate prime entry can change, e.g., when the author marries.  It's no substitute for the statement as transcribed from the item.  It seems to me this option should be limited to 440, 780, and 785.

It's good to see in such capitalizations as "e-Commerce", and "www. ..." allowed at the beginning of title transcription.

We are told (in 1.6.7) to transcribe jurisdictions when present (as opposed to when needed as in AACR2), and we are told to use prescribed abbreviations, *substituting one abbreviation for another*.  Now I hope they provide an example of "MA" being transcribed as "Mass."  I also hope they take the next step and have jurisdiction supplied when lacking.

We are (according to 1.6.8) to transcribe inaccuracies as is without "[sic]", but we are at least allowed to correct inaccuracies in items issued in successive parts.  We simply won't be able to adopt this.  
Too many records would be returned by customers for "correction".  We will have to continue the use of this Latin term along with the Latin abbreviations in imprint.

The LCRI turning AACR2 on its head for reproductions fortunately (from my point of view) did not make it into RDA.  So if following RDA, we would have 534 as opposed to the 533 used in following the LCRI. In 2.2.2 (choice of prime source), (title), (edition statement), (series),, and 4.10..2 we are told to choose the facsimile in hand, over the item reproduced, for transcription.

The instruction in 2.2.4 to use [ ] only for information supplied from outside the resource makes great sense.  Our customers never understood why we bracket something they could plainly see on the item.

The rule of three is now optional (2.3) for statements of responsibility.  Presumably if the option is not adopted, the number of 700's will greatly increase, as well as the length of 245$c.

The inclusion of variant title transcription (2.3.4) following title transcription might make sense for MARC21 246 and even 247.  But wouldn't those earlier and former titles ( be in 780/785?
Recording earlier and later title information ( still only applies to continuaing resources (even though the category is not expressed).  These titles are defined as applying to serials and integrating resources only.  Mongraphs also have earlier and later titles in successive editions, but these relationships are not coverend in this section, so one assumes 247 and 780/785 will not be extended to monographs.  The 780/785 way of relating earlier and later editions would seem to me a simple way of meeting FRBR objectives.

In, as mentioned earlier, jurisdiction for place of publication is to be transcribed if present (in contrast to the rarely observed AACR2 provision), but lacking jurisdictions are not supplied.  
This is something we have to do for our international customer base.  
We can't expect an European or Asian patron to know the jurisdiction of North American cities.  Also, if we have "London, Ont." it seems to me we should have "London [England]".

Some changes in for date of publication seem wise: "[1800s?]" seems clearer than the present "[18--?]".  But why not "[late 1800s or early 1900s]" as opposed to "[date unknown]", if that is the case?  
Certainly the cataloguer with item in hand is better able to determine that than the patron at the catalogue.
The instruction in 2.3.5 to omit introductory words at the beginning of titles (first allowed for motion pictures) is very welcome.  One of the great advantages of RDA integrating all types of resources in one set of rules is that they are much more consistent.  The exceptions and additional provisions for particular genres are clearly stated.

Unfortunately still defines alternate title as being part of title proper.  If so, why does it begin with an upper case letter?  
That first portion of the title should be followed by a 245$hGMD, and the alternate title should be coded 245$b, as happens with all the other titles other than first title proper, whether parallel title, or a later title in an item without a collective title (the latter being a rule change).

It's good to see in that medium and key for music are to be transcribed as part of 245 title area.

D.1.2.0 continues the mistake of AACR2 in describing the period at the end of an element as of it is to "precede" the following element.  We all key that full stop at the end of the relevant MARC field, and think of it as ending that element.  I suspect that silly way of saying it is why 246 lacks a full stop, creating notes lacking a full stop.  It is also silly to continue calling for "--".  I know of no system which now has us key those in the MARC record (if used they are system supplied), and back when we did key them in on Catss, they were at the end of MARC fields, not at the beginning.

It's certainly worthwhile reading through the draft.  With the exception of the difficulty of coordinating the elements to be transcribed with the appropriate MARC21 field, it should be a useful teaching aid.  I can see a lot of annotating of the printed version with MARC21 field tag numbers.  Wouldn't an appendix doing that be helpful?

It would be much more useful if the order of rules corresponded with the order in which most of us key the the elements, i.e., ISBD or MARC21.

   __       __   J. McRee (Mac) Elrod ([log in to unmask])
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