Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA
RDA: Resource Description and Access


RDA: Resource Description and Access was developed by JSC as part of its strategic plan (2005-2009) to replace the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd Edition Revised, which were first published in 1978.

RDA provides a set of guidelines and instructions on formulating data to support resource discovery.  RDA provides a comprehensive set of guidelines and instructions covering all types of content and media.

Details of how to subscribe to the RDA Toolkit can be found on the publisher’s website.

For a brief summary of RDA see the RDA Brochure (PDF format). The text of the brochure is also available in the following languages: Arabic; Catalan; Chinese; German; French (Canada); French (France); Persian [Word format]; Polish; Portuguese; Russian; Spanish; Swedish; Turkish. JSC also welcomes translations of RDA Supporting Documentation.

Work on the new standard began in 2004, and in the same year the Committee of Principals for AACR (CoP) appointed Tom Delsey as the Editor. In December 2004 a draft of part I of AACR3 was made available to the constituencies for review. In 2005 a new approach was agreed on, and the decision made to adopt the title: “RDA: Resource Description and Access”. In December 2005, the draft of RDA part I was made available for review. Further drafts of RDA chapters were issued in 2006 and 2007. At the October 2007 meeting, the JSC agreed on a new organization for RDA, see A New Organization for RDA. A full draft of RDA was issued in November 2008. JSC discussed the responses to the full draft at its meeting in April 2009 and the revised text was delivered to the publishers in June 2009.  RDA was published in the RDA Toolkit in June 2010.

RDA: Resource Description and Access is developed in a collaborative process led by the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA.  JSC gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the many institutions and individuals who have generously given their time and energies to the creation of RDA.


JSC Aggregates Working Group (2015–   )
[not yet named]

See terms of reference of the JSC Aggregates Working Group.

JSC Capitalization Instructions Working Group (2015–   )
Pat Riva

See terms of reference and current membership/tasks of the JSC Capitalization Instructions Working Group.

JSC Fictitious Entities Working Group (2015–   )
[not yet named]

See terms of reference of the JSC Fictitious Entities Working Group.

JSC Music Working Group (2014–   )
Damian Iseminger

See terms of reference and current membership/tasks of the JSC Music Working Group.

JSC Places Working Group (2014–   )
Gordon Dunsire

See terms of reference and current membership/tasks of the JSC Places Working Group.

JSC RDA/ONIX Framework Working Group (2014–   )
Gordon Dunsire

See terms of reference and current membership/tasks of the JSC RDA/ONIX Framework Working Group.

JSC Relationship Designators Working Group (2015–   )
[not yet named]

See terms of reference of the JSC Relationship Designators Working Group.

JSC Technical Working Group (2014–   )
Gordon Dunsire

See terms of reference and current membership/tasks of the JSC Technical Working Group.

= = = =


Editor of RDA (2004–2009)
Tom Delsey

RDA Project Manager (2005-2009)
Marjorie Bloss

RDA Examples Group 1 (2005–2009)
Denise Lim  (2005–2008)
Work continued by Nathalie Schulz

Catherine Argus (ACOC)
John Bowman (CILIP/BL) (2005–2008)
Kevin Randall (ALA) (2006–2009)
Pat Riva (CCC)
David Sommerfield (LC)
Jay Weitz (ALA)

RDA Examples Group 2 (2006–2009)
Adam L. Schiff (ALA)

Catherine Argus (ACOC)
Joan Biella (LC) (2006–2007)
John Bowman (CILIP/BL) (2006–2008)
Kim Doyle (CCC) (2007–2009)
Rachel Gagnon (CCC) (2006–2007)
David Sommerfield (LC)
Aaron Taub (LC) (2007–2009)
Jay Weitz (ALA)
Kathy Winzer (ALA)

Adam L. Schiff has also acknowledged the many colleagues whose help and support contributed to the work of the Examples Groups.

RDA Examples Group 3 (2012–2013)
Kate James (LC, U.S.A.)

Pam Coleman (British Library)
Emma Cross (Carleton University, Canada)
Anita Krawalski (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek)
Laura May (Library of Parliament, Canada)
George Prager (New York University, U.S.A.; PCC Task Group on RDA Records)
Adam Schiff (University of Washington, U.S.A.)
David Wells (Curtin University, Australia)

RDA Music Joint Working Group (2012–2013)
(Members from the following organizations: Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres; Library of Congress (U.S.A.); Music Library Association (U.S.A.))

Steven Yusko (LC, U.S.A.)

Rachel Gagnon (CAML, Library and Archives Canada)
Cheryl Martin (CAML; Western University, Canada)
Daniel Paradis (CAML; Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Canada)
Caitlin Hunter (LC, U.S.A.)
Janet Bradford (MLA; Brigham Young University, U.S.A.)
Robert Freeborn (MLA; Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A.)
Tracey Snyder (MLA; Cornell University, U.S.A.)

GMD/SMD Working Group (2005–2006)
Patricia Thurston (ALA)

Ann Chapman (CILIP/BL)
Ebe Kartus (ACOC)
Daniel Paradis (CCC)
Helena Zinkham (LC)

Appendices Working Group (2006–2008)
Judith Kuhagen (LC)

John Attig (ALA)
Kathy Glennan (ALA)

RDA Outreach Group (2005–2008)
Christine Oliver (CCC) (2006–2008)
Matthew Beacom (ALA) (2005–2006)

Everett Allgood (ALA)
Matthew Beacom (ALA) (2006–2008)
Robina Clayphan (CILIP/BL) (2005–2008)
Gordon Dunsire (CILIP) (2006–2008)
Ebe Kartus (ACOC)
Christine Oliver (CCC) (2005–2006)

Format Variation Working Group (2001–2004)
Jennifer Bowen (University of Rochester)

Matthew Beacom (Yale University Library)
Allyson Carlyle (University of Washington)
Antony Gordon (British Library)
Peter Haddad (National Library of Australia, to 2003)
Stuart Hunt (OCLC Europe)
Sue Lambert (British Library & Cambridge University Library)
Christine Oliver (McGill University Libraries)
Mick Ridley (University of Bradford)
Pat Riva (McGill University Libraries)
Joan Schuitema (Loyola University)
Paul J. Weiss (UCSD Libraries)

RDA/MARC Working Group (2008–2011)
Everett Allgood (New York University and CC:DA Liaison to MARBI)
Corine Deliot (British Library)
John Espley (VTLS and AVIAC representative to MARBI)
Kathy Glennan (University of Maryland)
Rich Greene (OCLC)
Rebecca Guenther (Library of Congress)
Reinhold Heuvelmann (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek)
Rhonda Lawrence (University of California, Los Angeles)
Bill Leonard (Library and Archives Canada)
Sally McCallum (Library of Congress)
Bill Moen (University of North Texas, School of Library and Information Sciences)
Marg Stewart (JSC Liaison to the RDA/MARC Working Group)
Martha Yee (UCLA Film and Television Archive)

DCMI/RDA Task Group (2007–2011)
Gordon Dunsire
Diane Hillmann

Karen Coyle
Jon Phipps

Special acknowledgements to individuals:


Janet Bradford

  2014 Cheryl Martin

Pam Coleman


Laura May


Emma Cross


Susanne Oehlschläger


Robert Freeborn


Daniel Paradis


Deborah Fritz


Jon Phipps


Richard Fritz


George Prager


Rachel Gagnon


Pat Riva


Mauro Guerrini


Octavio Rojas


Diane Hillmann


Adam Schiff


Caitlin Hunter


Tracey Snyder


Kate James


David Wells


Anita Krawalski


Steven Yusko


John Attig

  2013 Judy Kuhagen

Kate James


Chris Oliver


Ebe Kartus


Thurstan Young


Corine Deliot

  2012 Thurstan Young

Laura May


Catherine Argus

  2011 Denise Lim

John Attig


Jon Phipps


Joan Biella


Kevin Randall


John Bowman


Pat Riva


Karen Coyle


Adam Schiff


Kim Doyle


Nathalie Schulz


Gordon Dunsire


David Sommerfield


Rachel Gagnon


Aaron Taub


Kathy Glennan


Jay Weitz


Diane Hillmann


Kathy Winzer


Judy Kuhagen


Marjorie Bloss

  2007 Tom Delsey

Tom Delsey


Judy Kuhagen


Deirdre Kiorgaard


Denise Lim


Judy Kuhagen


Denise Lim

  2005 Nathalie Schulz

Adam L. Schiff


Sally Strutt


Nathalie Schulz

      2004 John Attig

Randall Barry


Matthew Beacom

  Ann Chapman    

Jennifer Bowen


Gordon Dunsire


Allyson Carlyle


Ebe Kartus


Mary Disipio


Bill Leonard 


Robert Ewald


Daniel Paradis


Antony Gordon


Nathalie Schulz 


Diane Humes


Patricia Thurston 


Judy Kuhagen


Helena Zinkham


Sue Lambert


Mary Larsgaard

2003 John Attig    

Denise Lim


Jennifer Bowen


Elizabeth Mangan


Tom Delsey


Christine Oliver


Ann Huthwaite


Velma Parker


Pat Riva


David Reser


Nathalie Schulz


Mick Ridley


Pat Riva

2002 John Attig    

Nathalie Schulz


Jennifer Bowen


Paul J. Weiss


Pat Riva


Nathalie Schulz

  2000 John Attig

Jean Hirons

2001 John Attig      

Jennifer Bowen


Bob Ewald


Jean Hirons


Judy Kuhagen


Brian Schottlaender


Scope and Principles

Underlying RDA are the conceptual models FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) and FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data).

A scope document has been developed which defines the scope and structure of RDA in relation to the conceptual models on which it is based, and in relation to models developed by other metadata initiatives. There are also supplementary documents: an RDA Element Analysis; and, FRBR and FRAD mappings.

The JSC is committed to ensuring that the metadata produced using RDA will be well-formed, i.e., instructions are provided on how to record the values of elements, controlled vocabularies are used where appropriate, and the overall structure is governed by a formal model. These documents have been issued for the JSC and Editor to refer to, in the process of developing RDA, to ensure this aim is met. In addition, we hope that these documents will be useful to the metadata and semantic web communities and in our ongoing discussions with these communities.

RDA is being developed in line with a set of objectives and principles which are informed by the Statement of International Cataloguing Principles.


An overview of RDA can be found in the Prospectus:

RDA Drafts

The full draft of RDA was made available in November 2008. The comment period has closed, see the responses.

RDA Discussion list

An RDA discussion list has been established:


Frequently asked questions on RDA have been grouped into the following categories:

1. RDA Basics
2. RDA Organization and Governance
3. RDA Development
4. Details of RDA's Content
5. Submitting Comments on RDA
6. RDA's Effect on my Library
7. RDA Publication
8. RDA and MARC 21
9. Adopting RDA
10. Principles and Conceptual Models
11. Testing RDA
12. RDA Testing by the three United States National Libraries

View all FAQs


For a calendar of past and future presentations, see Presentations on RDA. Where possible, links are made to presentation slides.

Ongoing activities

There are a number of ongoing activities of the JSC that will be incorporated into the work on RDA.

  • Revised introductions

    JSC has determined that the General Introduction to the code, as well as the Introductions to AACR2 parts I and II, will be significantly expanded to provide a conceptual background for the application of the rules. During 2002, CILIP/BL prepared drafts of the revised introductions, which were based on the existing text. In 2003, JSC decided that a completely new draft outline would be prepared.

    The revised General Introduction will include information on the principles underlying the rules. A statement of objectives and principles is available:

    The JSC has contributed to the creation of the IFLA Statement of International Cataloguing Principles

  • Reorganization of Part I

    Beginning in 2003, the JSC considered proposals on ISBD areas 2, 3, 4, and 6 from the ALA Task Force on Consistency across Part I of AACR2. The Task Force examined the rules in part I to identify inconsistencies in wording across chapters, and instances where specific rules should be given in general form in chapter 1. The work to generalise rules by the Task Force fed into the work done by the Editor on RDA. The December 2004 draft of AACR3 part I consisted of chapters containing general rules, followed by chapters for supplementary rules applicable to specific types of content and media.

    The constituency responses to the draft of part I expressed concerns regarding the separation between general and supplementary rules, and this was one factor in the decision at the April 2005 meeting to take a different approach to the arrangement of the new code.

  • GMDs and SMDs

    The Joint Steering Committee has been faced with a number of issues concerning the future of the general material designation (GMD), particularly in the light of new types of materials and the increasing occurrence of mixed media. In order to give direction to this discussion, Barbara Tillett of the Library of Congress was asked to prepare a discussion paper on the history of the GMD in AACR2, the rationale for the use of GMDs, and possible choices for the future. This discussion paper was revised in May 2001, and was reviewed by the JSC constituents.

    At the September 2002 meeting, JSC asked the Format Variation Working Group to examine alternative ways of representing the GMD in bibliographic records. The Mode of Expression Subgroup did some preliminary work on deconstructing the GMD, and examining the use of form of expression identifiers.

    At the April 2004 meeting JSC charged the Editor with examining GMDs and SMDs. The December 2004 draft of AACR3 part I included revised rules to permit in the GMD the use of either a content designation, or a medium designation, or both. The draft also included revised rules for specific material designations (SMDs). The constituency responses to the draft expressed a number of concerns regarding these proposals.

    At the April 2005 meeting, the JSC decided to form a working group to propose terms for use in place of the current GMDs and SMDs. The JSC is also working with ONIX as part of the RDA and ONIX initiative to develop a common framework for resource categorization.

    Drawing on the RDA/ONIX Framework and the terms proposed by the GMD/SMD Working Group, three new data elements, Media type (section 3.2), Carrier type (section 3.3) and Content type (section 4.2), are being proposed for RDA to assist users in fulfilling FRBR's “select” user task.

  • Chapter 21 including the “Rule of three”

    As part of the new code, chapter 21 will be revised in light of the recommendations from Tom Delsey in part 2 of his Logical Structure of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. This chapter will be the starting point for the relationships chapters of RDA.

    Included in these chapters will be consideration of the Australian Committee on Cataloguing proposal (first issued in 2000) to make the limitations imposed by the “rule of three” optional. Rule 21.29D currently allows for additional added entries to be made if required by cataloguers.

  • Authority control

    The current chapters 22-25 in AACR2 on form of heading will become the core of sections 2-4 and 9 of RDA, which will contain explicit instruction on providing authority control for access points in catalogues.

  • Incorporating FRBR terminology and concepts

    At the October 2001 meeting, JSC decided that work should be conducted on incorporating terminology from the IFLA Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records in AACR. Since that time, rule revisions have been proposed to ensure that the FRBR terms “work,” “expression,” “manifestation,” and “item” will be used in AACR in a manner consistent with their definitions in FRBR. The terms “expression” and “manifestation” are new to AACR. The term “work” is already used appropriately. However, the term “item” in AACR is not consistent with the FRBR definition. At the April 2004 meeting JSC charged the Editor with continuing the work to incorporate FRBR terminology and concepts.

    At the April 2005 meeting, the JSC decided to align the structure of RDA more directly with the FRBR and FRAR (Functional Requirements for Authority Records, now Functional Requirements for Authority Data) models.
Last updated: 13 April 2015
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