Over the last two days I have learnt more about RDA than I thought I would for years – and all without even leaving my desk. Online training is a wonderful thing! Free online training without any annoying webinar software that crashes every five minutes is even better…
The format was simple, you sign up to the JISCmail list, you look at their examples online, sign up for free RDA toolkit access (if your institution doesn’t already have it) and then do your examples in advance. Then over the forum days you gradually submit your records and study the differences and discuss.
It was the most entirely free training I have ever done, thanks to the free RDA access, no travel costs and other free online videos etc from organisations like Library of Congress on RDA. I will say that it took most of my time and attention to keep up with it (although there was a long lunch break which was very helpful) and I was also trying to manage volunteers and users at the same time. I think next time I might be tempted to follow it in a separate office somewhere, if I can manage to access my email elsewhere…
I was hugely relieved to discover that my attempts at RDA weren’t very different to other people’s and I didn’t seem to be missing anything too fundamental. I was also calmed by comments that, when squashed into a MARC based LMS, RDA was not going to (initially at least) be so very drastically different from AACR2. Or, it didn’t have to be, if we didn’t want it to be.
I’m not sure how soon RDA will impact my work in my current role. We certainly can’t afford a yearly subscription to the toolkit, although I can access a paper copy at another library as an alternative. We don’t download records so I don’t have to worry about changes at the British Library creating inconsistencies, but I do want to keep us as up to date as I can, and offer users the best catalogue that I can. I also would love to see our records uploaded to COPAC one day, so I would need to be consistent with their systems.
Some aspects of RDA really appeal to me, and some (such as losing the rule of three and not abbreviating words like “volume”) fit with our existing in-house rules which is not only easy but also comforting that we had the right idea there!
Other bits seem very difficult, especially when combined with MARC and LMS limitations. I would need to have a long hard look at conferences especially, and I’m not confident with creators/contributors yet either.
Finally some changes just don’t seem like a good idea! I can’t accept that changing the structure of ISBNs in the catalogue to include spaces, hyphens or text is a good idea. It would be a huge conflict with all the existing records and simply not computer friendly. I don’t think I’ll be making that change personally. But then, I’m creating a system which is neither AACR2 or RDA. Is that going to be an even larger problem? Although we had alternative practices from DCRM(B) and in-house rules already so it wouldn’t actually make much difference there.
The training goes on. Thanks to the Forum I have a further 30 days access to RDA to help me decide, and there is talk of regional discussion groups who will create records together and discuss the changes and ambiguities. I do hope there is one here “oop North”!