I think it is important to distinguish among "codes," "coding" and "standards." MARC is the method we in the U.S. use for "coding" the cataloging record created according to a cataloging standard or code for use by (some) electronic databases (also called "catalogs"). Cataloging principles and standards existed before electronic databases were a gleam in their creators' eyes, and catalogs were created for literally millenia before electricity was harnessed for human use. While it is important today to understand "how "code" (not sure whether you mean MARC or standards such as AACR2 and RDA or computer software) fits into the framework of automated library software," that does not equate with understanding the general principles of definition, description, and organization on which cataloging is based.
As we work through AACR2, DDC, LCC, and LCSH, I attempt to give my students some understanding of the theoretical principles on which these various standards and systems are based so that they are are in a position to apply whatever specific standard they are called on to use. I try to teach them the process (the "why") as well as the procedure (the "what") of cataloging so that they have the foundation for using different procedures in the future. We also look at the socio-cultural, disciplinary, and cognitive bases for structuring knowledge and organizing information in particular ways, so that they understand that there is no single, right standard or code for organizing all information for everyone in every situation.
I don't understand how teaching RDA before AACR2 in any way addresses the difficulty of teaching two different cataloging codes or standards in one class. It also does not address the issues of teaching a standard before it has been released and accepted into widespread use.
Suzanne M. Stauffer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Louisiana State University
275 Coates Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Fax: (225)578-4581
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From: Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata education & training on behalf of Jennifer Parsons
Sent: Sun 1/11/2009 8:28 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [eduCAT] incorporating RDA into a Cataloging and Classification class

Thanks, Richard.  While it can be effective to teach code in detail, I'll
hazard a guess that it really only works with an approach where students can
see the effects of their code directly-- sort of the way I see things done
in programming classes.  The trouble is, that rarely happens in library
catalog land; a working OPAC simply can't be built in a timely fashion by a
single person.  The result of this is that you need catalogers and technical
services staff with a good abstract knowledge of how code fits into the
frame work of automated library software.
I really like Shawne and UNT's method of having students build the structure
in which the code is placed, in addition to detailed code.  Not only will
this give students a better idea of how a catalog works, it will help them
in working with vendors, since they're already aware of how database
applications interact with software and can be used to collate many tables
of records.

-Jennifer Parsons

On Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 12:18 AM, Richard Stewart <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Doesn't sound so crazy to me. It's been a few years since I taught as an
> adjunct at Dominican--I introduced a survey of the then-new FRBR in my last
> few terms--but even then I was coming to the conclusion that teaching the
> code in detail, or trying to, was impractical in Organization of Knowledge
> (the introductory core course). Comparing the two codes (with reference to
> FRBR) could be a good way of illuminating the underlying principles.
> Richard A. Stewart
> Senior Cataloger
> Indian Trails Public Library District
> 355 South Schoenbeck Road
> Wheeling, Illinois 60090-4499
> Tel: 847-279-2214
> Fax: 847-4760
> [log in to unmask]
> htpp://
> >>> Jennifer Parsons <[log in to unmask]> 01/10/09 9:31 AM >>>
> Well...I have a crazy idea, everyone.  Disclaimer: I'm a
> wet-behind-the-ears
> LIS school graduate; I have very little cataloging experience compared to
> everyone else on this board.
> Why not reverse the order when teaching coding to a Cataloging class-- that
> is, why not teach RDA, and then AACR2?  Or, better yet, why not start from
> a
> very general, basic concept of what coding is for, and then lead on into a
> comparison of the two?  If students can grasp why these two standards exist
> to begin with (i.e., to minimize differences between records and make them
> easier to find across platforms), it will be easier for them to grasp
> why changes
> had to be made from one standard to the other.  By pointing out the
> concepts
> behind the change and the function of both sets, the large, contrasting
> differences between RDA and AACR2 will help students learn how to display
> their cataloging information, rather than providing confusion.
> -Jennifer Parsons