Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA
Historic Documents

A New Organization for RDA

At its October 2007 meeting, the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA agreed on a new organization for the content of RDA: Resource Description and Access. This structure was suggested by the RDA Editor based on the following concerns expressed in constituency responses to draft chapters:

  • That the organization of RDA was too closely based on current database structures of linked bibliographic and authority records, whereas the ultimate aim is a relational/ object-oriented database structure [ACOC].
  • That organization of RDA is insufficiently aligned with Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) [ALA].
  • That the inclusion of relationships between works and expressions in Part A of RDA is inappropriate [LC].

Implementation Scenarios

In January 2007, the RDA Editor created a document (see 5JSC/Editor/2) describing three potential implementation scenarios, all of which could be supported by data created using RDA.

Scenario 3 presented a flat database structure, with all data stored in a bibliographic record. Scenario 2 pictured a structure of linked bibliographic and authority records. These two structures are those commonly used in libraries today. The previous organization of RDA in two parts, the first part covering the sorts of information usually included in bibliographic records and the second part covering the sorts of information usually included in authority records, mirrored Scenario 2.

Scenario 1, on the other hand, showed a relational/object-oriented structure, which the developers of RDA believe is the direction in which library databases are moving. It provides a more rigorous basis for representing FRBR entities and relationships, as attributes of each FRBR entity would be stored in separate records and all relationships could be made directly between the records for the related entities. This scenario thus provides better support for the user?s ability to find, identify, select, and obtain resources which meet their information needs.

While it is possible for data created using RDA to be stored in any of these database structures, the JSC would like the organization of RDA to mirror a forward-looking vision of the database structure in which we expect RDA to be implemented.

Reorganizing the Content of RDA

The new organization adopted by the JSC relates data elements more closely to the FRBR entities and user tasks. The content of RDA will be organized in ten sections which fall into two groups, focusing on recording the attributes of each of the FRBR entities and on recording relationships between these entities, respectively:

Recording attributes
Section 1. Recording attributes of manifestation and item
Section 2. Recording attributes of work and expression
Section 3. Recording attributes of person, family, and corporate body
Section 4. Recording attributes of concept, object, event, and place

Recording relationships
Section 5. Recording primary relationships between work, expression, manifestation, and item
Section 6. Recording relationships to persons, families, and corporate bodies
Section 7. Recording relationships to concepts, objects, events, and places associated with a work
Section 8. Recording relationships between works, expressions, manifestations, and items
Section 9. Recording relationships between persons, families, and corporate bodies
Section 10. Recording relationships between concepts, objects, events, and places

Each section will contain a chapter of general guidelines and chapters for the entities. Each chapter will be associated with one of the FRBR user tasks and one or more FRBR entities; for example, chapter 2 in section 1 will cover elements primarily used to identify a manifestation or item and chapter 19 in section 6 will cover elements primarily used to find a work. The chapters on recording attributes and relationships for the FRBR group 3 entities (concept, object, event, and place) will be placeholders, provided to allow a complete mapping to FRBR and FRAD and as a template for possible future development of RDA to cover these entities. Instructions on recording the attributes and relationships for places have been included, but will not initially go beyond the scope of AACR2 chapter 23.

In addition to these sections, there will be a General Introduction, Glossary, and various appendices, including those on capitalization, abbreviations, initial articles, and data presentation included in the current RDA Prospectus.

Advantages of the New Organization

  • The closer alignment with the FRBR and FRAD models and direct reference to the FRBR entities and user tasks will make it easier for cataloguers to learn and understand RDA concepts and for system designers to create powerful applications to support resource discovery.
  • The new organization is not tied to any specific record structure. As a result it will be more easily understood by communities using a range of database structures.
  • The new organization will be more adaptable and extensible; it will provide a better framework for RDA to move into a future increasingly defined by object-oriented models and relational structures.

Implementing the New Organization

The overall scope of RDA is unaffected by the new organization, and no additional content will need to be developed. Content developed for RDA to date will be slotted into the new organization with minimal editing.

The JSC does not anticipate that the change in structure will require any adjustment to the existing timelines (including those for constituency review) leading up to the first release of RDA in 2009.

The remaining RDA content (the former ?Part B? chapters) will be issued in the new organization for constituency review, along with revised versions of the RDA Prospectus and RDA Scope and Structure documents, which will further explain the details of the new organization.

The Joint Steering Committee and the Committee of Principals fully support and are committed to the new organization.

Date posted: 13 November 2007
Last updated: 1 July 2009
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