To all Catalogers/Librarians:

Frank Newton recently posted to OCLC-CAT (see his complete email below),
neatly summarizing many people's concerns with RDA and its treatment of the
authority file. He wrote: "剷The possibility for compromises exists, but
only if the people who oppose the version of RDA which we have as of today
can unite first on a handful of principles for modifying the RDA status
quo, and second on a set of particular wordings for those principles which,
like the original Bill of Rights, will command respect, and be shortly
codified into a revised RDA, or so officially enacted that they prevent
people from interpreting RDA without reference to its amendments.ぉ"

I believe that time is running out for any organized opposition to RDA,
from those who either want it altered or abolished; certainly, by April of
next year, if not earlier, it will be a fait accompli. So I am now
proposing that the opposition organize, and influence RDA while we possibly
still can. Here are some things that I believe we might need:

1. A listserv for discussion/goal setting
2. A wiki for publicly hosting and editing documents/principles
3. Some form of informal governance (so that we won't debate forever and
pass our deadline for action--simple majority rules, perhaps?)
4. A method of commanding respect from the powers that be (ALA, LC, etc.)
so that our comments will be taken seriously

Perhaps someone more tech-savvy than I could set up the first two, and then
interested parties could organize (on or off-list) and get started on
principles/goals--first being, I suppose, whether to try to modify RDA (on
authorities, or more broadly), or undermine it completely and demand a
moratorium on its adoption. And anyone who might be an "insider", or know
an "insider", with the powers that be could give us some insight into how
to make them listen: form committees under their auspices? Conduct user
research that challenges the underpinnings of RDA/FRBR? Write papers? Host
symposia? Twitter about it?

Never having done this thing before, I'm hoping for lots of grassroots
ideas and support, particularly from the libraries that would be
disenfranchised should RDA be accepted (small libraries, libraries with
vanishing budgets, etc.). Shall we play David to the RDA Goliath? I'll be
curious to see if we can muster a critical mass of support for change.

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
[log in to unmask]

Disclaimer: Alas, my ideas are merely my own, and not indicative of New
York Public Library policy.
----- Forwarded by Deborah Tomaras/MHT/Nypl on 12/03/2010 10:16 AM -----
  From:       Frank Newton <[log in to unmask]>                                                           
  To:         [log in to unmask]                                                                                 
  Date:       12/02/2010 12:53 PM                                                                               
  Subject:    Re: [OCLC-CAT] Status of the US RDA Test                                                          
  Sent by:    OCLC-Cataloging <[log in to unmask]>                                                               

1. Issues

Wojciech Siemaszkewicz of New York Public wrote:

> We do not object to new authority records being created, just to the
> ignoring/alteration of existing ones.

That's my main objection to what I see happening in the RDA test.

Various contributors to the OCLC-CAT listserv have made clear what I
believe are three issues:

1. Wildcat RDA testers may be contributing RDA bib. records to OCLC
WorldCat while ignoring the carefully worked out parameters of the US RDA
2. OCLC WorldCat is international.  The US RDA Test is not international.
Catalogers from outside the US are not bound in any way, shape, or form by
the provisions of the US RDA Test.
3. RDA exhibits an inefficient, counterproductive, and costly skepticism
towards existing authority records in duly constituted authority files
until now deemed authoritative.

I cannot rule out the possibility that issue #1 is actually issue #2 in
disguise.  For the sake of focusing on core issues, I'm willing to concede
that the category of wildcat RDA testers which has been posited to exist
may be a small part of the problem.
Also, I have omitted the adjective "unprecedented" under issue #3 because
it's unclear to me whether the AACR2 revolution in the 70's and 80's was
any kinder to existing authority records than RDA promises to be.

2. The Debate We Need to Have

If I was going to compare the current RDA moment to something in American
history, I would say it's like the Constitution has been written and now
the writers of the Constitution are trying to persuade the thirteen states
that the Constitution is better than the Articles of Confederation.  (I
guess that was ratification, but I don't hear the word "ratification" being
used in the RDA debate -- our word seems to be adoption.)

We recall that this process in U.S. history (1787-1791 if I read Wikipedia
aright) resulted in a compromise in which the Constitution was approved by
securing the support of key opponents whose support was conditional on
adding to the Constitution a Bill of Rights.  Nowadays, we have dozens of
miniature "Bills of Rights" in circulation on every conceivable subject and
sometimes obscuring our view of the Sequoia trees of the original Bill of
Rights ; so -- Resource Description and Access doesn't need a Bill of
Rights -- but it does need some amendments which would play the exact same
role that the original Bill of Rights played in the adoption of the U.S.
Constitution.  One of those amendments should be to limit the ability of
the new cataloging code to compel or even allow people to consider useless
changes to existing authorized and established name headings such as the
heading for Elvis Presley.

The possibility for compromises exists, but only if the people who oppose
the version of RDA which we have as of today can unite first on a handful
of principles for modifying the RDA status quo, and second on a set of
particular wordings for those principles which, like the original Bill of
Rights, will command respect, and be shortly codified into a revised RDA,
or so officially enacted that they prevent people from interpreting RDA
without reference to its amendments.

3. National Libraries as Bulwarks Against Needless Internationalization

To this I would add that I see nothing at all esthetically satisfying or
compelling in any way about the dream of having the same cataloging code
for all the countries of the world.  If the United States wants to end up
with a different version of RDA from all the other nations that is just
fine with me and I hope you don't have a problem with that either.  That is
what we have the Library of Congress for, so we can have authority files
and cataloging rules that are efficient for our nation.  LC is a darned
good thing, and we should be giving thanks every day for the leadership
which our Library of Congress provides for us.

4. Appendix (from a status report on RDA which I wrote to my supervisors)

I have concerns about the financial burden of changing large numbers of
headings.  One example which has been thrown around on the OCLC-CAT
listserv . . . is Elvis Presley.  His heading now is:
     Presley, Elvis, 1935-1977.
A number of people on the listserv are saying RDA will force his heading to
change to:
     Presley, Elvis (Elvis Aron), 1935-1977.

This is obviously a stupid change, but the debate doesn't seem to turn on
whether or not it's a stupid change -- the debate seems to be a
disagreement about whether the rules of RDA would require Elvis's heading
to change like that.

(The authority record for Elvis (n 78079487 [its LC ID] = ARN 214821 [its
OCLC ID]) currently includes the note "full name generally recorded as
Elvis Aron Presley, however gravestone reads Elvis Aaron Presley."  If
Elvis and his family were inconsistent on how to spell his middle name, and
the rest of us have never been in the habit of using it, wouldn't it be
better for library catalogs to continue leaving it out of his heading as
we've been doing?)

Frank Newton
Catalog Librarian
Dover Memorial Library
Gardner-Webb University
P.O. Box 836
Boiling Springs, N.C.  28017-0836

To consult the OCLC-CAT archives visit:

-----Original Message-----
From: OCLC-Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Wojciech
Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2010 8:40 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [OCLC-CAT] Status of the US RDA Test

I have waited several days after the US RDA Test Coordinating Committee
issued their statement to see what comments will be made after catalogers
digest its meaning.
I have to admit that I am disappointed that the Committee has disregarded
all the demands of the November Memorandum Against RDA Test, which has been
signed by 298 catalogers from around the world as of December 1, 2010. I am
also disappointed that OCLC has relegated its responsibility for its
bibliographical utility maintenance to the Committee.

The very premises of the RDA test conducted in a live environment are
contradictory to the OCLC rules and procedures that it requires from its
library members. The rules about following AACR2 rules and not creating
duplicate records are the obvious violations. Coding RDA records as full
bibliographical records therefore adequate for its library members is
another violation. Coding RDA records as acceptable PCC records is yet
another violation. All these points were raised in discussions before the
Committee’s statement. The same points are again raised by catalogers in
their discussion of the statement.

The violations of authority control rules established by NACO and SACO are
probably the most astonishing in my opinion.

The suggestions that were included in the November Memorandum Against RDA
Test sought to clarify these violations and clarify status of
bibliographical records that library members use in their daily work. If
the real purpose of the RDA test was to see how RDA records are created and
used by libraries around the world than they should be coded separately as
such. They should not to be confused with full level PCC and LC records.
The RDA records should not include RDA versions of authority names if they
already exist in NAF and SAF files, especially in records coded as PCC and
LC records. Definitely, the RDA testers should not be allowed to convert
already existing bibliographical records into RDA records as have been

All this indicate that OCLC has not followed its own rules and procedures
in this respect.

The notion stated in the Statement that “Duplicate records are a concern
for many OCLC members, and creating parallel AACR2 and RDA records for the
same title would only exacerbate the problem of duplicate records and would
be likely to be merged by OCLC’s Duplicate Detection and Resolution (DDR)
software” has been proven to be misstatement by catalogers in our
discussion. We all have encountered PCC bibliographical records being
duplicated by LC records and avalanche of vendor and foreign records for
the same titles.

The Memorandum suggested a simple solution of coding as different two
records created by RDA and AACR2 libraries following two very different
sets of cataloging rules. The RDA test would benefit from such a coding by
clearly seeing who is using the RDA records and who is not. At the present
time, libraries are forced to use the RDA records without any choice
leading them to disruptions of their workflows and authority controls.

These specific complaints were clearly stated in our discussions:

Our complaint was and is that RDA testers are not using existing authority
instead creating variant forms of names, and undermining the authority

We do not object to new authority records being created, just to the
ignoring/alteration of existing ones.

I agree with many of my colleagues that this practice in the RDA test is
appalling and that it is being encouraged, condoned and continued by RDA
testers and those responsible for them. What is even more appalling is that
the OCLC, PCC and LC would abandon their own rules and regulations for this

Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz
New York Public Library
Library Services Center
31-11 Thompson Ave.
Long Island City, N.Y. 11101
(917) 229-9603
e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Please note, any opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect those
of The New York Public Library.

         Status of the US RDA Test

         Kuhagen, Judith



05:32 PM
         Sent by:

               Program for Cooperative Cataloging
<[log in to unmask]>
        Please respond to Program for Cooperative Cataloging

[Forwarding this message on behalf of the US RDA Test Coordinating
Committee; please excuse duplication.].

= = = = = = =

                         Status of the US RDA Test

The record creation phase of the US RDA Implementation test has passed the
halfway point. The 26 participating institutions have completed over 55% of
the common set records and created more than 2,700 additional RDA
bibliographic records.

Beginning in January 2011, the US RDA Test Coordinating Committee will
analyze the test results and prepare a report with recommendations for
their respective senior managers at the Library of Congress (LC), the
National Agricultural Library (NAL), and the National Library of Medicine
(NLM). The goal is to complete the recommendation phase in March 2011. The
senior managers will issue a public report by June 2011.

Background on the RDA Implementation Test
What is being tested and why?
RDA: Resource Description and Access is the content standard for cataloging
superseding the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed.    In 2008, the
Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control
recommended to the Joint Steering Committee that further new developmental
work on RDA be suspended.

That did not occur and consequently LC, NAL, and NLM jointly determined
that testing based on objective facts was an essential prerequisite to a
decision about adopting RDA. LC, NAL, NLM, and 23 partnering institutions
are the formal, official test participants.  Further details are available
at (整

What questions are we answering?
The test has been designed to answer the following sorts of questions:
      ·         Does RDA meet its announced goals?
      ·         What is user reaction to the records?
      ·         What is the economic impact?
            o    What is the impact on library operations?
            o    What are the direct costs?
            o    What are the training impact and costs?

What are the possible decisions?
There are four possible outcomes:
      ·         Do not implement RDA
      ·         Postpone implementation until certain changes are made
      ·         Implement RDA
      ·         Implement RDA with specific recommended changes or policy
      decisions for US libraries

I’m not a formal participant how can I share my opinions and any RDA
records created?
The US RDA Test Coordinating Committee has developed an online survey to
gather information from informal testers and others who are not part of the
testing process.  It is available at: