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 I hope that I am not alone in finding the US RDA Test Coordinating
Committee's statement of clarification wholly inadequate, and evading the
issue set before it by myself and others.

Our complaint was and is that RDA testers are not using existing authority
records that are PERFECTLY ADEQUATE AND COMPATIBLE WITH RDA, and are
instead creating variant forms of names, and undermining the authority
file. Some recent examples we've come across at my institution are Elvis
Presley (changed to Elvis Aron, despite lack of usage), and even more
problematically Richard Wagner (changed to Wilhelm Richard, which might
cause people to doubt he is who he is). Neither of these headings--nor many
altered in 7xxs by RDA catalogers--needed any alterations to either be
unique personal identifiers, or to be compatible with RDA rules. However,
these headings, and many others, are being undermined daily in the RDA
test, either in bibliographic record headings (1xx/6xx/7xx) or in authority
7xxs.

The Coordinating Committee's statement states that: "Existing authority
records (based on AACR2 or earlier rules) may be temporarily augmented with
a 7XX for the corresponding RDA form of the authorized access point ...
After the implementation decision, authority records with 7XX field will be
updated as needed. Institutions may need to adjust local procedures to
account for RDA bibliographic and authority records your staff may
encounter during the testing period." [all emphases mine]

We do not object to new authority records being created, just to the
ignoring/alteration of existing ones. The testing rules mentioned in the
paragraph I've quoted above
(http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/RDAtest/admindoc.1.doc) include the
provision--not addressed in the Coordinating Committee statement--that is
causing the problems to begin with: "1.  When the entity represented by the
AACR2 form in the 1XX in the authority record is needed in the new
bibliographic record, take the following actions: b. New RDA bibliographic
record: i. Use the RDA form in the authorized access point. ii. Code the
bibliographic record as an RDA record. iii. Note: The access point will not
match the existing authority record. This may be an issue for some systems
using validation [once again, all emphases are mine]."

These testing rules make it clear that RDA testers/catalogers may ignore
existing authority records in favor of RDA forms of names. It does not
acknowledge that many of these AACR2-created names are compatible with RDA
rules, thus would not be problematic to include in new RDA records. It does
not mandate that these should be used when existent, and only ignored if
clearly incompatible with the new rule set. Instead, the test provision
allows people to reinvent the wheel, remaking headings with often simply
cosmetic/platonic changes. And although the rules openly state that this
"may be an issue", it does nothing to try to avoid the authority problems
that it causes. Instead, in the rules AND the above statement of
clarification, the burden is placed on non-test sites to correct authority
errors locally.

The 7xxs created in many cases by RDA testers (such as Elvis and Wagner,
and even the comparatively unknown Antoni Gasiorowski) will result in
massive heading updates if and when RDA is adopted in this country (i.e.,
"updated as needed" as mentioned in the statement above), and often for NO
GOOD REASON. Local catalogs will be inundated with changes which they will
have to implement, if they have the resources. If they don't, they will
have to accept authority problems. During the testing period local catalogs
must either accept RDA headings in bibliographic records, or change them
locally to existent authority headings--only to perhaps have to change them
AGAIN when RDA is accepted. And nothing in this statement addresses the
manifold uncontrolled 1xx/6xx/7xx headings in BIBLIOGRAPHIC records, which
cannot be automatically changed, and therefore will cause repeated name
headaches.

Since the RDA Test Coordinating Committee refuses to address this important
issue, I will borrow the language of my colleague and suggest that we
DEMAND that they MANDATE using existing authority records when there is no
conflict between the heading and RDA rules. Adding extra information
(middle names/dates/etc.) just because it is in a 670 note--when it is not
needed for differentiation or rule adjustment--shows a reckless disregard
for the vital role the authority file plays in library catalogs and user
recall. I am appalled that it is being encouraged, condoned and continued
by RDA testers and those responsible for them.

Deborah Tomaras, NACO Coordinator
Librarian II
Western European Languages Team
New York Public Library
Library Services Center
31-11 Thomson Ave.
Long Island City, N.Y. 11101
(917) 229-9561
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