At one point in the process of developing PCC SCS comments on part 1 of RDA, I was having trouble communicating my thoughts/feelings/vision on the big picture aspects of RDA to other committee members. I developed the analogy below as a way for me to clarify my thoughts and to communicate them more clearly and at a deeper level. I'm sending this out more broadly in case it might be helpful for, possibly even resonate with, some of you.

Let's view cataloging codes as technical/engineering plans. AACR1 produced wagons that for the first time could really be mass-produced in the state of Libraria, and it allowed drivers to switch from one wagon to another without significant retraining. AACR2 was an improvement--it standardized even more pieces, so drivers switching wagons needed just a little retraining, but clearly showed where differences were appropriate and how to deal with them. AACR2 wagons were bright and shiny in their day, but their age is showing. AACR2 wagons don't work as well on newfangled paved roads, they look old-fashioned, people have gotten used to comfy furniture and don't like the hard seats, and some of our sister states have been developing their own modes of transportation. AACR3 required our manufacturing plants to vastly retool even though it would have produced wagons that looked and worked much the same as before, although in some cases less well. This draft of RDA is a more cohesive, thought-out plan, which would produce generally well-designed wagons, with all of their different parts working even better together, that would be easier to train new drivers on. RDA wagons would probably work better than AACR2 wagons in the state of Libraria.
However, the intention is that RDA is designed so that people in other states will use it to design and build wagons very similarly to ours, so that wherever people go in the country of Informationland, the wagons will be compatible (interchangeable parts, no retraining needed for drivers, etc.) and usable (comfortable, fast, going where people want to go). Libraria used to be seen as the Swiss watchmaker of wagons throughout Informationland and beyond, but no longer. Some of our newer sister states don't really know much about us at all, let alone about our wagons. Even the ones who are familiar with our wagons don't see them as relevant to their states. Many of our sister states have been busy. In the past several years they have been frantically designing, building, and selling many other modes of transportation. Wagons have become only one of many modes, they are slow and expensive to produce, and they take a long time to ship to the people who need transportation. Wagons are just not that efficient or effective any more, and are becoming increasingly unpopular as people migrate to other modes of transportation. Citizens of most countries throughout the Union of Users will ignore RDA and will come to view its wagons as cute, but archaic, and will rarely want to use one. Libraria's reputation will suffer, and other states and countries won't look to us for leadership, not just in transportation, but in all of our areas of expertise. Which is a shame, because Librarians really do know a lot that can help others achieve their Information goals.
We need to change RDA to be a broader, integrated plan encompassing cars, airplanes, trains, ships, etc., and yes, even wagons. As we articulate and live up to our objectives and principles, and send emissaries to the other states, others will see how their modes of transportation can successfully integrate with other modes to achieve a cohesive and harmonious transportation system. Our neighboring states of Museumdom and Archivia will find the RDA model useful to them, and design their modes to interconnect with ours. There is a much better chance that states in the Digitalia region, such as DublinCore, the Republic of LOM, the GIS Kingdom, and new states that we may not even have heard of, will take notice of RDA and use it to meet some of their needs. We will likely produce fewer wagons, but we will trade modes with other states, and all of our states will flourish.
As the various states in Informationland work together to build this wondrous system, citizens from other countries will look forward to spending time in our country, knowing that they can get from one state to another easily and quickly. Peoples of the world will come to know Libraria anew, and no longer will some of them think of Libraria as a historical landmark, but as a thriving, useful, fun hotspot.
Onward Libraria!
Chair, PCC SCS

Paul J. Weiss
Catalog Librarian and NACO Coordinator
Metadata Services Department
UCSD Libraries
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