Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA
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Summary of Progress on US RDA Test Recommendations to JSC

JSC has clarified requirement 1(a-c), for rewriting RDA. The U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee provided the following guidance:

  • RDA should be reworded as necessary to improve clarity and ease of reading, without altering the intent of the instructions.
  • The Coordinating Committee will accept an improvement “approaching the scores for 12th grade/1st year of college” according to the Flesch-Kincaid test.
  • The Coordinating Committee will also call on a subset of the original testers to be involved in the review of the reworded chapters, as well.
  • The Coordinating Committee does not require a comparison of texts of standards other than RDA.
  • Based on the responses from RDA testers, the Coordinating Committee identifies these five chapters as ones most in need of rewording, and therefore the ones to begin with:
    • 6, Identifying Works and Expressions
    • 9, Identifying Persons
    • 10, Identifying Families
    • 11, Identifying Corporate Bodies
    • 17, General Guidelines on Recording Primary Relationships.

JSC also suggested Chapter 2, Recording Attributes of Manifestation and Item.

Recommendation 1 a-c. (Content of RDA)

  1. In collaboration with the Committee of Principals, identify and engage a writer to undertake rewrites of the RDA instructions in clear, unambiguous, plain English.
    Timeframe for completion: within three months.
  2. In collaboration with the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee, prioritize the chapters to be rewritten based on information gathered during the U.S. RDA Test.
    Timeframe for completion: within three months.
  3. Begin rewrites of prioritized chapters.
    Timeframe for completion: within twelve months, i.e. within nine months after completing (a) and (b).
The Committee of Principals has allocated responsibilities for delivering recommendations 1(a-c) as follows:
  • A copy editor will be recruited by ALA Publishing in consultation with the Co-Publishers.
  • The copy editor will report to the Co-Publishers.
  • JSC will review changes to RDA wording to ensure continued adherence to RDA.
  • A minimum of 5 chapters will be completed and accepted, no later than June 2012.
  • There will be coordination with groups currently translating RDA.

Recommendation 1 d. (Content of RDA)
  1. Complete and publicize the online registry of RDA element sets and vocabularies. Ensure that the registry’s information remains in synchronization with the RDA instructions.
    Timeframe for completion: within six months.

JSC is working with the DCMI/RDA Task Group and the Open Metadata Registry to satisfy recommendation 1d.

Recommendation 1 e-f. (Content of RDA)

  1. Clarify boundaries between works, expressions, manifestations, and items.
  2. Clarify differences in cataloging resources with different modes of issuance.

The Coordinating Committee also provided clarification regarding recommendations 1e, “Clarify boundaries between works, expressions, manifestations, and items”, and recommendation 1f, “Clarify differences in cataloguing resources with different modes of issuance”

  • Language is needed that more clearly delineates the distinctions
  • Tighter language, clearer definitions, and more examples will help to increase clarity and ease of application.

Recommendation 1 g. (Content of RDA)

  1. Specific topics:
  1. Clarify distinctions between Field of activity of the person (RDA 9.15) and Profession or occupation (RDA 9.16) or merge the two elements; identify controlled vocabularies for these elements or the merged single element. (MARC 372 and 374 fields)
  2. Clarify the identification of elements applying to expressions.
  3. Discuss the need for identifying specific expressions and consider the possibility of an undifferentiated authorized access point for categories of expressions (e.g., for translations in the same language).
  4. Revise the instructions for authorized access points for conferences to clarify the requirements when the publications of a conference are being cataloged as a serial.
  5. Clarify the use of RDA ch. 17 in implementation scenarios that still use bibliographic records with attributes for multiple FRBR Group 1 entities.
  6. Clarify the instructions on production, publication, distribution, and manufacture statements (RDA 2.7-2.10). Also allow for repetition of these elements, rather than giving notes about changes over time.
  7. Work with various specialized communities (e.g., moving image, music, rare materials, serials) to revise and add instructions.
  8. For RDA ch. 6 and ch. 9-11, identify if elements (at the instructions for those elements) are included or not included in authorized access points.
  9. At RDA 19.2, 19.3, 20.2, 21.2-21.6, and 22.2-22.4, provide links to the instructions for creating the authorized access points for the persons, families, and corporate bodies associated with the resource.
  10. Consider requiring the use of authorized access points for place associated with the corporate body (RDA 11.13) to allow more machine manipulation of this information.
  11. Add more instructions about the use of contents notes and the information included in such notes (e.g., use of performer’s name).
  12. Work with the cartographic community regarding appropriate relationship designators for persons, families, and corporate bodies associated with these resources.

JSC has categorized the specific issues listed under recommendation 1g.:

  • Issues suitable for fast tracking
  • Issues that will be addressed through training
  • Issues that are the subject of proposals to be discussed at the November JSC meeting
  • Issues for which proposals are invited for future discussion.

Progress on Recommendations 2 and 3

2. Process of updating RDA

  1. Define and publicize the process for updating RDA in the online environment.
    Timeframe for completion: within three months.
  2. Make updates much more frequently than in the past.

3. Enhancements in RDA Toolkit (Note that recommendations 3a.-3e. are repeated in the Recommendations to ALA Publishing.)

  1. Work with ALA Publishing to integrate full examples into the RDA Toolkit, including examples for specialized communities (e.g., serials, rare books, music resources).
    Timeframe for completion: within six months.
  2. Work with ALA Publishing to resolve the problem that the existing search labeled as “Core” retrieves instructions beyond “Core” and “Core Plus” elements.
  3. Work with ALA Publishing to develop a search for only “Core” and “Core if” elements.
  4. Work with ALA Publishing to highlight the availability and usefulness of the Element set view so catalogers are aware that they can see all instructions for an element.
  5. Work with ALA Publishing on a way to indicate that RDA content and related documentation have been updated.
  6. Provide mapping of RDA elements to other metadata schemas: MODS, MADS, METS, Dublin Core, etc.

JSC is working with ALA Publishing to establish robust processes by which RDA will be updated and changes will be communicated to users.

  • It is anticipated that major updates to RDA will be made not more than twice annually;
  • It is anticipated that the frequency of minor updates will be no more than monthly;
  • JSC is finalizing a “fast track” process which will allow low impact proposals, including: correction of typographical errors; addition or removal of examples; addition of terms to vocabularies to be accelerated;
  • Users will have a single place (accessible through the RDA Toolkit or in the RDA Toolkit) to stay informed of RDA changes and product changes.


The Report and Recommendations of the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee on the implementation of RDA—Resource Description & Access is available here.

The JSC Plan to respond to the US RDA Test JSC Recommendations showing status of progress is available here.

Date posted: 5 September 2011
Last updated: 11 January 2012
Webmaster: JSC Secretary