Printer Friendly

Cataloguing in 2012: on the cusp of RDA.


In the year 2000, the periodical Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association put out a special issue titled Music Librarianship at the Turn of the Century. (2) A. Ralph Papakhian's contribution to that issue, an article simply called "Cataloging," begins with an enumeration of the major developments of music cataloguing in the recent past, going on to consider each of these in more detail. (3) Papakhian begins by saying that the developments he will discuss are the results of the application of computer and networking technologies and of organisational efforts toward cooperative cataloguing in that technological environment. (4)

Today, a bit more than a decade after Papakhian's article, the major looming changes in the field--the new cataloguing code RDA; a new system of genre/form and medium terms, to be used as "subjects"; and a not-yet-determined replacement for the encoding system MARC--are the results of a pervasive concern that cataloguing should be focused on the needs of the user. To be sure, we music librarians look constantly toward future technologies, if they show promise of serving us and our patrons better than the technologies of today. Technologies are so varied and so capable, compared to those available even as recently as the year 2000, however, that we are less concerned with what technology can do than we are with deciding which technology can do the best job in a given context. In addition, we examine the data we provide (in catalogue records, for instance) to discover how we might improve what we do, to allow technology to make the best possible use of our work and to enable ourselves to "work smarter," always with a view to giving users the best experience we can offer.

Basing catalogue codes on explicitly stated user needs is nothing new, as Jenn Riley, echoing William Denton, points out in a recent article. (5) The full development of a conceptual model based on these needs is the new element. The needs or "User Tasks" were systematically defined in Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records or, as this report has come to be known, FRBR. (6) They were refined in the later publication Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD), (7) and the results of the two studies were incorporated into the new cataloguing code Resource Description and Access or RDA. (8)

Development of Catalog Codes

The Path to RDA

How did the cataloguing community get to the current crossroads, with RDA poised for widespread adoption? In a paper presented at the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR2 (Toronto Conference) in 1997, Michael Gorman and Pat Oddy sketched the development of cataloguing codes from the nineteenth century until the age of AACR2. They traced the development of English-language cataloguing codes through three "ages": The nineteenth-century age of single-person codes; the twentieth-century age of the "committee code"; and the age of AACR2, the code first published in 1978. The authors pointed out that AACR2 was in fact a radical change from AACR1 and would perhaps more suitably have had a new name, rather than being called the second edition of its predecessor code. (9)

Whereas Gorman and Oddy maintained that AACR2 needs only to be tweaked, not modified extensively, Tom Delsey, speaking at the same conference, pointed out logical inconsistencies in the code and features of the environment in which the code must function today that are sufficiently different from the situation in 1978, that the same set of rules cannot be expected to continue to meet needs. (10) He called for a logical analysis of AACR2 to clarify "the assumptions, principles, structures, and conventions that underlie the cataloguing code itself." (11)

The results of this analysis were reported in a two-part document, which was complete by 1998. (12) The analytical technique used was derived from systems-development methods, particularly the entity-relationship model popularized in the academic community by Peter Chen and reported in his 1976 work with reference to datasets relevant to business functions. (13) For the purposes of analysis, the cataloguing process was considered the activity to be analyzed and the code the set of business rules according to which the activity is carried out. Delsey's analysis appears, in North America at least, to have been the turning point toward the cataloguing-as-data mindset enshrined in RDA.

After Delsey's work was made public, a draft "AACR3" was written and submitted for comments. The overwhelming consensus of opinion was that a revision of the existing code would not be sufficient and that a more thorough recasting was needed to achieve such goals as increased internationalisation; better handling of new formats, including digital media; and compatibility with the data standards used by other sectors of the information industry. A final update of AACR2 was agreed on in October 2004 and issued in 2005. Efforts were then redirected into writing a totally new code, which was titled RDA: Resource Description and Access. In a 2005 document with the same title as the new code, the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR summarized the evolution of cataloguing rules from the late-nineteenth century until the time the document was written, the reasons for choosing to write a new code rather than revise the existing one, and the theoretical background for RDA. (14)

The next five years saw intensive work on the new code, which went through multiple drafts, motivated not only by the insights of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) but also by voluminous comments, chiefly from the English-language cataloguing community. The first edition of the code was finally published in June 2010 as an electronic document. Revisions continue and are expected to be incorporated into the online "RDA Toolkit" frequently. The code has been tested and is now in routine use at some libraries, although most have not begun to use it in their daily work. Implementation at the Library of Congress and other U.S. national libraries is scheduled for early 2013; however, some libraries plan to continue to use AACR2 for the foreseeable future, and it is not certain that RDA will be adopted universally any time soon.

Parallel but Intertwined Developments

The Anglo-American cataloguing community had no monopoly on revising codes in the twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries. Some European countries use translations of AACR2 or rules based on AACR2, but others have different codes. (15) While European catalogue codes can be traced back at least as far as Panizzi, (16) modern codes in Europe have their roots in the 1961 "Statement of Principles" commonly known today as the Paris Principles, (17) which dealt with choice and form of headings for printed books. One goal of these Principles was to serve as a basis for international standardisation in cataloguing. That goal was clearly met, as most of the cataloguing codes developed worldwide after 1961 adhered to these rules. (18)

As early as 1977, the first of many ISBDs (International Standard Bibliographic Descriptions) were published by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Until 2007, many separate types of library materials--antiquarian monographs, computer files, cartographic materials, serials and other continuing resources, electronic resources, printed music, non-book materials, and so forth--had their own ISBDs, in addition to the "general" ISBD. A Consolidated ISBD published in 2007 superseded all earlier ISBDs. A new consolidated edition came out online in 2010, in print in 2011. (19)

Starting in the 1990s, various documents of the "FR family" (FRBR, FRAD, FRSAD [Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data]) were developed and went through multiple revisions. These are all conceptual documents, based on user tasks, that is, what users should be able to do with the data produced under a cataloguing code. The sources of the entity-relationship model incorporated in the FRBR report are given early in the document. (20) These all date from considerably later than Chen's seminal work of 1976.

In 2009 the Paris Principles were updated and replaced by the "Statement of International Cataloguing Principles." (21) This updating took place after five meetings of cataloguing experts in various parts of the world. (22) The Principles were broadened to encompass all types of materials and all aspects of bibliographic and authority data. Furthermore, the 2009 Principles were built on FRBR. (23)

North American and European paths of catalogue code development have never been completely distinct. For instance, according to the preface to the 1978 edition, AARC2 is designed to be in general conformity with the Paris Principles of 1961. The same preface points out that the framework of ISBD(G) (the "general" ISBD) is the basis of the descriptive portion of AACR2, 2nd ed. The Introduction to RDA claims that the code is compatible with the ISBDs, although some European librarians, notably those in France, see only a loose and limited relationship. (24) The 2009 "Statement of International Cataloguing Principles" informed the concurrent development of RDA. (25) FRBR stands as the most robust link between the two paths, however. The conceptual framework expounded in the final report on FRBR is prominent in all of the cataloguing documents produced so far in the twenty-first century. Barbara Tillet's brief introduction to FRBR is available on the website of the Library of Congress. (26) Robert Maxwell has provided a much more detailed discussion, which treats diagramming methods for entity-relationship models, comparing Chen's system and those used in FRBR and FRAD, and then moves to a consideration of the FRBR entities, relationships, and user tasks, ending with a comparison between the FRBR model and catalogue records produced under AACR2. (27)

To the joy of many music cataloguers, FRBR also happens to be immensely music-friendly. For years musicians have been thinking in terms of the FRBR entities "work", "expression", and "manifestation", although we have not exactly used those words. Even most questions from music library patrons tend to fall readily into FRBR categories. For the first time, music cataloguers have a conceptual framework that actually fits the material to which they wish to provide access.

Although the conceptual framework presented in the FRBR report is now well known to librarians, the initial impetus behind this study is less familiar. It was prompted in part by the changing economic circumstance under which cataloguing was taking place in the 1990s. A pervasive pressure on libraries to do more with less and consequently to create "minimal level" cataloguing led to a reconsideration of the data elements in a bibliographic record as they relate to user needs and expectations. Librarians recognized that the continued viability of shared cataloguing in such economic conditions required an agreed standard for "basic" or "core" records. The FRBR report discusses a wide variety of data and user tasks but at the end presents a "basic" standard, to be considered the minimum acceptable for records from national libraries. This general idea lies behind the RDA "Core," the list of data elements required by that code for every catalogue record. (28)

Librarians have not all agreed about whether FRBR coincides with library users' perceptions of the bibliographic universe. Contributors to such email lists as AUTOCAT have persistently complained in recent years that FRBR does not match users' mental models. Jan Pisanki and Maja Zumer give a contrary view in their report on a user study on a small, geographically circumscribed sample (diverse in age, economic status, and educational attainment). Their study showed that in this small sample, users' mental models of the bibliographic universe reflect FRBR fairly well, with the exception that the original expression is privileged over all other expressions, to the extent that it is usually grouped with the work, while other expressions are separated from the work. (29)

Another European study has shown that the FRBR relationships are relevant to a significant portion of the items in a particular catalogue but often are not made clear in the catalogue record. Marija Petek reported on a study of a subset of records from the Slovenian Cooperative Bibliographic DataBase. According to this study, approximately one quarter of the bibliographic items in the catalogue possess derivative relationships with other bibliographic items in the catalogue; but these relationships are not made explicit in 59 percent of the relevant records. The article urges that such relationships be made explicit, because this would help users to make sense of their search results. (30)

Form/Genre and Medium

New cataloguing codes are not the only change on the horizon. Users of library music catalogues have long been stymied by the often impenetrable (by library patrons) "subject" headings assigned to music scores and recordings. The essence of the problem is that music is seldom about a specific topic but is in particular forms or genres, or is for particular instruments or voices. At long last, a new system that recognizes this problem is on the verge of being implemented. This form/genre and medium system and the history of attempts to improve music subject access are discussed by Mark McKnight elsewhere in this issue. In a different publication, also issued in 2012, Beth Iseminger gives considerable detail about the Music Genre/Form Project, a joint endeavor of the Library of Congress and the Music Library Association. (31)

Transition Away from MARC

RDA and other cataloguing codes are content standards; that is, they say what information should be given. Other standards say how that information should be encoded. MARC in its various flavors (OCLC-MARC, MARC21, UNIMARC, to mention just a few) has been the encoding standard for bibliographic information in library catalogues for decades. It was developed at the Library of Congress, under the leadership of Henriette Avram, with initial development in 1967-68. (32)

The introduction to the FRBR Final Report includes the speculation that the analysis presented there might be a useful framework for "a re-examination of the structures used to store, display, and communicate bibliographic data." No encoding scheme other than MARC is mentioned, but the report clearly foresees a need for at least a reorganization of MARC, and possibly a different type of database structure, if the conceptual model set forth there is to be realized. (33)

The final report of the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control set up by the Associate Librarian of Congress, Deanna Marcum, explicitly called for the replacement of MARC with a "more flexible, extensible metadata carrier." This recommendation was a consequence of the Working Group's recognition that information access is moving to the World Wide Web, which makes no direct use of MARC. (34)

One result of the report of this working group was that RDA underwent a "live" test, administered by the U.S. National Libraries (Library of Congress, National Agriculture Library, and National Library of Medicine). Testers, drawn from a wide variety of libraries, had several months of training, followed by several months of cataloguing using RDA. From questionnaires filled out during the test, it became evident that, in the opinions of many of the cataloguers using the code, the benefits of RDA could not be realized in a MARC environment. (35) The Final Report made "credible progress toward a replacement for MARC" a condition for implementation of RDA. (36)

Even before the results of the U.S. National Test of RDA were announced, the Library of Congress established the Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative to develop a new encoding format. The initial announcement about the Bibliographic Framework, made on 13 May 2011, speaks of the need for a replacement for MARC but also asserts the need to consider all current metadata encoding standards, including MARC 21, to determine what aspects "should be retained and evolved into a format for the future." Attention was quickly focused on the Semantic Web, RDF (Resource Description Framework), and linked data. LC will however continue to maintain MARC for as long as it is necessary. (37)

The idea behind the Semantic Web, RDF, and linked data is that information will be on the World Wide Web and will be structured to enable links in an automated or semi-automated manner. (38) Linked data can be seen as a way for library data and other sectors' data to be interconnected. In such an environment, libraries are as much consumers or in-gestors of data that already exist elsewhere as they are publishers of data. (39)

One necessity for data to be usable on the Semantic Web is that there be a stable vocabulary, with registered URIs (Universal Resource Identifiers), to be used in structuring the data. The report on the outcome of the U.S. National Test of RDA included in its list of requirements before RDA could be implemented that the Registered RDA Element Sets and Vocabularies should be complete and sychronised with the RDA rules. (40) This requirement was met in August 2011 when the RDA vocabularies (both elements and controlled vocabularies/concepts) were officially registered in the Open Metadata Registry; they are now stable and are available for development of applications in the Semantic Web. (41)

At this moment, a replacement for MARC is still an idea in the planning stages. The outlines of that replacement are rapidly becoming clearer, however. The terms Semantic Web, RDF, linked data, and RDA Vocabularies have all gained a prominent position in the discussion. No one knows exactly where the library community will end up, but the process is underway and is moving quickly. This new Bibliographic Framework, whatever it turns out to be, will be the carrier for the information music cataloguers record under the provisions of the new cataloguing code RDA and under the new system of genre/form and medium terms. Just as RDA and the genre/form/medium system are aimed toward fulfilling user needs, it is to be hoped that the upcoming Bibliographic Framework will also be user-friendly, as the Web has shown itself to be.

Jean Harden (1)

(1.) Jean Harden is Music Catalog Librarian at University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, U.S.A.

(2.) Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 56, no. 3 (March 2000).

(3.) A. Ralph Papakhian, "Cataloging," Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 56 (2000): 581-590.

(4.) A. Ralph Papakhian, "Cataloging," Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 56 (2000): 581.

(5.) Jenn Riley, "The FRBR Models: Thinking More Deeply about Library Metadata," in Directions in Music Cataloging, ed. Peter H. Lisius and Richard Griscom (Middleton, WI: Music Library Association and A-R Editions, 2012), 140.

(6.) IFLA Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records: Final Report (Munchen: K.G. Saur, 1998).

(7.) IFLA Working Group on Functional Requirements and Numbering of Authority Records (FRANAR). Functional Requirements for Authority Data: A Conceptual Model, ed. Glenn E. Patton (Munchen: K. G. Saur, 2009)

(8.) Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. Resource Description and Access (RDA) (2010- )

(9.) Michael Gorman and Pat Oddy, "The Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Second Edition: Their History and Principles." Paper delivered at the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR2 (Toronto, 1997). Prepublication version: <>

(10.) Tom Delsey, "Modeling the Logic of AACR." Paper delivered at the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR2 (Toronto, 1997). Prepublication version: <>

(11.) Tom Delsey, "Modeling the Logic of AACR." Paper delivered at the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR2 (Toronto, 1997). Prepublication version: <, 2.

(12.) Tom Delsey, with assistance from Beth Dulabahn, Michael Heaney, and Jean Hirons, "The Logical Structure of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules," Part I (1998) and Part II (1999) < /docs/aacr.pdf> and <>

(13.) Peter Chen, "The Entity-Relationship Model: Toward a Unified View of Data," ACM Transactions on Database Systems 1, no. 1 (March 1976): 9-36. doi:10.1145/320434.320440

(14.) Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR. "RDA: Resource Description and Access" (2005) <>

(15.) "RDA in Europe: Making it Happen: Summary of Presentations by European Countries on Plans for Moving to RDA" <> and Renate Gompel, "Germany on Track for International Standards: RDA" <>

(16.) Antonio Panizzi, "Rules for the Compilation of the Catalogue," in The Catalogue of Printed Books in the British Museum, vol. 1 (London, 1841), [v]-ix.

(17.) The International Conference on Cataloguing Principles, "Statement of Principles" (1961) <>

(18.) Barbara B. Tillett, "International Cataloguing Principles (ICP) Report" Milan, Italy: IFLA, 2009 <>

(19.) ISBD Review Group, ISBD: International Standard Bibliographic Description, Consolidated ed. IFLA series on bibliographic control, vol. 44 (Berlin: De Gruyter Saur, 2011). 2010 draft available at <>. A brief history of the ISBDs can be found on the IFLA website, at < description>

(20.) IFLA Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records: Final Report (Munchen: K.G. Saur, 1998), 10.

(21.) IFLA, "Statement of International Cataloguing Principles" (2009). Retrieved from <>.

(22.) Barbara B. Tillett, International Cataloguing Principles (ICP) Report (Milan, Italy: IFLA, 2009). Retrieved from <>.

(23.) IFLA, "Statement of International Cataloguing Principles" (2009), p. 1. Retrieved from <>

(24.) Francoise Leresche and Francoise Bourdon, "French Libraries Moving to RDA?: Key Issues," slide 9. Presentation given at RDA in Europe: Making It Happen! EURIG-JSC seminar on RDA, 8 Aug 2010 (< RDA2010/LerescheEURIG2010.pps>).

(25.) Kathryn P. Glennan, "The Development of Resource Description & Access and Its Impact on Music Materials, Notes 68, no. 3 (March 2012): 527.

(26.) Barbara B. Tillett, "What is FRBR?: A conceptual model for the bibliographic universe" (2003) <> Also published in Technicalities 25, no. 5 (September-October 2003): 1, 11-13.

(27.) Robert Maxwell, FRBR: A Guide for the Perplexed (Chicago: American Library Association, 2008).

(28.) IFLA Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records: Final Report (Munchen: K. G. Saur, 1998), 1-2.

(29.) Jan Pisanski and Maja Zumer, "Mental models of the bibliographic universe. Part 1: Mental models of descriptions," and "Part 2: Comparison task and conclusions," Journal of Documentation 66, no. 5 (2010): 643-667, 668-680. doi: 10.1108/00220411011066772

(30.) Marija Petek, "A conceptual model for COBIB," International Cataloguing & Bibliographic Control 37, no. 2 (April-June 2008): 35-38. (31.) Beth Iseminger, "The Music Genre/Form Project: History, Accomplishments, and Future Directions," in Directions in Music Cataloging, ed. Peter H. Lisius and Richard Griscom (Middleton, WI: Music Library Association and A-R Editions, 2012), 63-77.

(32.) Sally H. McCallum, "MARC: Keystone for Library Automation," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 24, no. 2 (April-June 2002): 34-49. doi: 10.1109/MAHC.2002.1010068

(33.) IFLA Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records: Final Report (Munchen: K.G. Saur, 1998), 6.

(34.) "On the Record: Report of The Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control" (January 2008) < final.pdf>, 25.

(35.) "Report and Recommendations of the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee" (20 June 2011) < 20june2011.pdf>, 8.

(36.) "Report and Recommendations of the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee" (20 June 2011) < finalreport-20june2011.pdf>, 3.

(37.) See the website of the Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative at <> for historical and up-to-date information on the status of this undertaking.

(38.) For a more extensive discussion of this point, see Christian Bizer, Tom Heath, and Tim Berners-Lee, "Linked Data-The Story So Far," International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems 5, no. 3 (2009): 1-22. doi: 10.4018/jswis.2009081901

(39.) Jenn Riley, "RDA and Linked Data: Moving Beyond the Rules." Presented at the Music Library Association Annual Meeting, 18 February 2012, Dallas, TX < /mla2012/jennMLA-RDA.pptx>

(40.) "Report and Recommendations of the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee" (20 June 2011) < finalreport-20june2011.pdf>, p. 3.

(41.) "First RDA Vocabularies Published" (1 August 2011) <>
COPYRIGHT 2012 International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Harden, Jean
Publication:Fontes Artis Musicae
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2012
Previous Article:Music cataloguing--where is it headed?
Next Article:RDA and music reference services: what to expect and what to do next.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters