RDA not the answer – what is?


  1. I’m a new cataloger
  2. I haven’t kept up with RDA

Now to the meat.

Karen Schneider has an interesting post at the Techsource blog. Karen says:

…the next time you complain about the limitations of library data"”the gazillions of records we have created about the physical items in our libraries"”and wonder why none of the cool new applications leverage the millions of library records shared worldwide, or why your expensive catalog can’t integrate with a nifty new social software tool, or you wonder why there’s no Google mashup to connect readers and books, consider this: to a large extent, it’s because our data suck.

I don’t agree. At least, my data doesn’t suck. I am constantly trying to add value to my data – and I think I’m doing a pretty darn good job. In fact, after reading through through the rest of the post – I don’t think Karen agrees either. The problem that is stated over and over is with the format of our data – not the data itself. This is why people complain about their expensive catalogs. MARC has been the standard for how long? And they still haven’t been able to come up with ways for us to improve the way our valuable data is displayed and manipulated??

That said – I agree! We need to make improvements in the way we catalog data. I need to go and read RDA before I can talk educatedly about what exactly works and doesn’t – but the one question I always ask (as a new cataloger) is – how will we ever get away from MARC & AACR2?? It is completely ingrained in all of our zillions of records. We’d have to build an amazing tool to reformat everything (which we’ll never be able to do because as Karen says there are too many inconsistencies). Or we’d have to re enter all of that data – do you want to do that??

I ask these questions out of curiousity – I’ve had this very discussion with other catalogers and I’m just curious what you all think. Feel free to chime in. How can we ever move away from MARC & AACR2 (and ISBD for that matter) when it’s central to nearly ever record out there?


  1. That’s because when my piece got edited “data structure” changed to “data.” It’s a subtle but important distinction: our data is great. Our data structure sucks. I should point that out on my personal blog.

  2. Ahhh! Well that makes perfect sense – guess you better talk to that editor 😉

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