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To all Catalogers/Librarians:

The RDA Coordinating Committee has refused to address concerns about RDA
and the authority file.

They have not altered the current test policy "Scenario 1/1b" (view it at
http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/RDAtest/admindoc1.doc) which allows ignoring
of the authority file when constructing heading in bibliographic records,
in favor of creating new RDA forms of names--often when names have
perfectly acceptable AACR2 headings. Many individuals have expressed
outrage over this policy, and the havoc that it plays in international
authority control. Even the PCC Policy Committee, in its Nov. 4-5 annual
meeting, shows concern over this policy, as expressed in its second action
item: "2. After the test period ends in Dec. 2010, PCC members may continue
to use the RDA testing guidelines from Jan. 2 until further notice, with
the exception that already-established AACR2 heading forms should be used
in bibliographic records. This decision will be reevaluated in April 2011."

Further, the RDA Coordinating Committee has not addressed concerns about
the future of the authority file: What is the purpose of the 7xx in
authority records? Will all 1xxs be flipped automatically if/when RDA is
adopted? If not, who decides which headings get flipped? How have the needs
of small or cash-strapped agencies been taken into account, and how will
their burden be eased if these changes go through? How can RDA
testers/catalogers be discouraged from making useless changes to already
acceptable headings (Elvis, Wagner, et al.) that will come back to haunt us
later?

Since neither of these questions were answered after I emailed the
Coordinating Commitee personally (and they subsequently met and issued
their statement of "clarification"), I am proposing the following mass
action for catalogers who share my concerns.

I ask that everyone individually email the Coordinating Committee, not at
the generic "send your comments" email, but to their personal email
addresses. If they have to wade through enough irate emails, perhaps they
will take our concerns more seriously. I realize that this action would
require people to reveal their identities and work emails to the
Coordinating Committee, which might be intimidating. But I think only a
critical mass of people can influence change at this time. The addresses of
the Coordinating Committee are here:
http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/rda/committee.html. Just in case
they take down the link, I'll also provide them here: [log in to unmask],
[log in to unmask], [log in to unmask],
[log in to unmask], [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask],
[log in to unmask], [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask] Below is the text
I'll be sending--feel free to copy as much or little as you'd like into
your individual emails. Please forward this around as much as possible, to
maximize the amount of catalogers/librarians participating. Thanks in
advance to everyone who participates!

To the RDA Coordinating Committee:

Given the grave concerns that many in the cataloging community share about
RDA and its current and future implications for the authority file, and
international authority control, we insist on answers to the following
questions. We further insist that any answers given by the Coordinating
Committee be posted publicly and distributed widely. And we insist that
criticisms of current and future policy be taken seriously, and changes
implemented, to minimize present and continuing damage to the authority
file.

1. We disagree with the present test policy (Scenario 1/1b) which allows
RDA testers to ignore authorized headings when creating access points in
bibliographic records, in favor of creating and using RDA forms of names.
In many cases, these new forms are used when the authorized names are
perfectly acceptable according to RDA rules. This policy is allowing RDA
testers to run amok in the authority file, making often merely cosmetic
changes to headings like Elvis, Richard Wagner, and even such relative
unknowns as Antoni Ga╠Ęsiorowski, which will cause current recall problems,
and future nightmares for database maintenance. Even the PCC Policy
Committee, in its Nov. 4-5 annual meeting, shows concern over this policy,
as expressed in its second action item: "2. After the test period ends in
Dec. 2010, PCC members may continue to use the RDA testing guidelines from
Jan. 2 until further notice, with the exception that already-established
AACR2 heading forms should be used in bibliographic records. This decision
will be reevaluated in April 2011." Why, if you acknowledge in test policy
1/1biii that this will cause problems internationally in authority
verification (and also, unacknowledged, in user recall) don't you mandate
that authorized headings be utilized unless there is a clear conflict with
the RDA rule set? How will you alter test policies--as soon as possible--to
discourage RDA testers/catalogers from making useless changes to already
acceptable headings (Elvis, Wagner, et al.) that will come back to haunt us
later?

2. We demand a public statement of intent pertaining to the 7xxs being
created by RDA testers in authority records. What is the purpose of these?
Will all 1xxs be flipped automatically to these 7xxs if/when RDA is
adopted? If not, who decides which headings get flipped? How have the needs
of small or cash-strapped agencies been taken into account, and how will
their database maintenance burden be eased if these changes go through?

3. If RDA is not adopted, how do you propose to fix uncontrolled RDA forms
of headings that exist in bibliographic records? This cannot be done
automatically, but as long as the headings remain unaltered they will
continue to create problems in name recall internationally.

If RDA is to become a national cataloging standard, then criticism and
input from catalogers using the standard must be addressed. We look forward
to hearing your public answers to our questions, and to your serious
consideration of our concerns and suggestions.

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.