You are here

RDA Frequently Asked Questions

Table of contents


What is RDA?
What are the strategic aims of RDA?
What standards is RDA related to?
How does RDA support linked data?
Who develops and maintains RDA?
How is RDA maintained?
What is RDA Reference?
What is the RDA Registry?
How is RDA translated?
Who owns RDA?
Why is there a subscription fee to access RDA Toolkit?
How should RDA data be encoded and displayed?
How is RDA related to MARC?
How do I ask a question or raise an issue about RDA?
How do I find out about developments in RDA?
How can I get training in RDA?
Why is the April 2017 Toolkit "frozen" for a year?
What is the 3R Project?


What is RDA?

RDA: Resource Description & Access is a package of data elements, guidelines, and instructions for creating library and cultural heritage resource metadata that are well-formed according to international models for user-focused linked data applications.


What are the strategic aims of RDA?

RDA is being developed to meet the needs of:

  • International communities
  • Cultural heritage communities
  • Linked data communities

Related FAQs:
What standards is RDA related to?
How does RDA support linked data?
Who develops and maintains RDA?
How is RDA translated?


What standards is RDA related to?

RDA uses the IFLA Functional Requirements family of conceptual models (FRBR, FRAD, and FRSAD) as its basis. These models are now consolidated into the IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM) that will be used as the future basis for RDA.

RDA also uses linked data principles based on Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Dublin Core Abstract Model (DCAM), following the Data Model Meeting at the British Library in 2007.

The RSC has formal relationships with other library standards organizations, such as the ISSN International Centre, so that decisions can be communicated and standards coordinated.

Related FAQs:
How is RDA related to MARC?


How does RDA support linked data?

RDA has been developed to support linked data applications and the Semantic Web since the Data Model Meeting in 2007.

The RDA entities, elements, relationship designators, and vocabulary encoding schemes are represented in Resource Description Framework (RDF), the syntax of open linked data and the Semantic Web, in the RDA Registry. Entity, element, and designator data are contained in RDF element sets. Vocabulary data are contained in RDF value vocabularies using Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS). The element sets and value vocabularies contain the data for RDA Reference and are collectively known as the RDA Vocabularies.

The RDA Registry also provides a set of elements and designators that do not specify the RDA entities, for use in linked data applications that do not use the conceptual model that is the basis of RDA.

Related FAQs:
What is the RDA Registry?


Who develops and maintains RDA?

RDA is developed and maintained by the RDA Steering Committee (RSC) on behalf of the RDA Board.

The RSC and RDA Board have international representation supported by specialist roles.

The Chair of the RSC is a member of the RDA Board, and the Chair of the RDA Board is a member of the RSC.


How is RDA maintained?

The content of RDA Toolkit is maintained using a content management system.

RDA guidance and instructions are maintained within the system. Guidance and instructions are adjusted by the RSC through formal, community-initiated processes and are published in RDA Toolkit four times per year.

RDA Reference data for RDA elements and values are maintained in the Open Metadata Registry and imported into the system as a linked data application of the RDA Registry. RDA Reference data are continuously maintained and is published through GitHub in coordination with Toolkit releases. For further information, see RDA Reference: Data flow and maintenance.

Related FAQs:
What is RDA Reference?
What is the RDA Registry?

Return to Top of Page


What is RDA Reference?

RDA Reference includes the labels, definitions, and scope notes of RDA entities, attributes, relationships, relationship designators, and vocabulary encoding schemes for controlled data values.


What is the RDA Registry?

The RDA Registry contains linked data vocabularies that represent the RDA elements, relationship designators, and controlled terminologies as RDA element sets and RDA value vocabularies in Resource Description Framework (RDF).


How is RDA translated?

The RDA Board and RDA Steering Committee (RSC) encourage translations of RDA Reference and RDA Toolkit guidance and instructions to support international communities.

Translations of RDA comply with the Translation Policy for RDA and RDA Toolkit.

RDA Reference: Translations includes instructions for downloading and translating RDA Reference data from the RDA Registry.

Related FAQs:
What is RDA Reference?
What is the RDA Registry?
Who develops and maintains RDA?


Who owns RDA?

RDA is owned by the Co-Publishers of RDA:

  • American Library Association
  • Canadian Federation of Library Associations
  • Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

The American Library Association publishes RDA on behalf of the Co-Publishers.


Why is there a subscription fee to access RDA Toolkit?

The subscription fee covers development and production costs of RDA Toolkit.

The costs of time spent by RDA Board and RDA Steering Committee members are absorbed by their employers and not passed on to subscribers.

The RDA Vocabularies containing RDA Reference data, in the RDA Registry for linked data applications, are freely available under an open license.

Related FAQs:
What is RDA Reference?
What is the RDA Registry?
Who develops and maintains RDA?

Return to Top of Page


How should RDA data be encoded and displayed?

RDA data should be encoded using any format that preserves the integrity of the RDA entities and elements.

RDA supports various Database Implementation Scenarios.

The RDA Registry provides vocabularies for encoding RDA data as linked data for the Semantic Web.

The use of RDA data in specific applications, including displays, is out of scope for RDA. RDA data is intended to meet the needs of a wide range of applications and user communities.


How is RDA related to MARC?

The MARC 21 format is in common use for encoding RDA data.

The RDA Steering Committee has a liaison protocol with the Library of Congress Network Development and MARC Standards Office.

The RDA Toolkit provides mappings between RDA elements and MARC 21 Authority and Bibliographic encodings.

Full Record Examples of RDA Cataloging include RDA data encoded in MARC 21.

RDA is also encoded in the UNIMARC format, as well as non-MARC formats.

Related FAQs:
How should RDA data be encoded and displayed?
What standards is RDA related to?


How do I ask a question or raise an issue about RDA?

Proposals for developing the content of RDA are submitted to a member of the RDA Steering Committee (RSC) for consideration by the RSC via a formal process.

Topics related to RDA are discussed on the RDA-L email list. The list is not moderated, and does not reflect the formal views of the RSC or RDA Board unless explicitly stated.

Inquiries about Customer Service and Technical Support for RDA Toolkit, including pricing and subscriptions, renewals, translations, and permissions, should be emailed to rdatoolkit@ala.org.

Inquiries about the RDA Registry and linked data applications should be emailed to the contacts listed on the Registry home page.

Related FAQs:
What is the RDA Registry?
Who develops and maintains RDA?


How do I find out about developments in RDA?

The RDA Steering Committee (RSC) publishes regular announcements about RDA in the News and announcements section of the RSC website.

The RSC publishes formal proposals for the development of RDA, the outcomes of discussion, and resulting changes to RDA in the Documents section of the RSC website.

ALA Digital Reference publishes regular announcements about RDA Toolkit and RDA in the News & Information section of the RDA Toolkit website.

The RDA Development Team makes posts on technical aspects of the RDA Vocabularies in the RDA Registry blog.


How can I get training in RDA?

A free trial of RDA Toolkit is available.

Full record examples of RDA cataloguing are available using pure RDA elements, MARC 21 encoding, and RDA linked data. Other training resources may be found on the Toolkit website.

RIMMF (RDA in Many Metadata Formats) is a freely available tool for creating RDA data in RIMMF format and RDA linked data for training and small-scale applications.

RDA training is available online in a variety of ways from regional, national, or specialist experts. Basic instruction workshops, updates, and refreshers are held via webinar or in-person from various professional organizations and are often publicized through RDA-L.

These include Library of Congress RDA training materials, workshops held by OCLC, training courses from the National Library of Australia, videos from the American Library Association’s Association of Library Collections and Technical Services, and materials in the Cataloger’s Learning Workshop.

In addition, there are many printed volumes on various aspects of RDA, including the general introduction RDA Essentials. Other titles may be found in the ALA Store.

Return to Top of Page


Why is the April 2017 Toolkit "frozen" for a year?

The April 2017 release of RDA Toolkit is the last update to the English version before the scheduled April 2018 release. This allows the RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project to use a snapshot of the RDA entities, elements, guidance, and instructions, and to fully involve the RDA Steering Committee while the usual development procedures are suspended.

Related FAQs:
What is the 3R Project?


What is the 3R Project?

The RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project brings together some necessary and desirable developments of the structure and content of RDA Toolkit, including implementation of a standard document model for content management, integration of RDA with the new IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM), and extended personalization features.

3R Project Status Report #1 contains further information.

3R Project: Update from 2016 Frankfurt Meeting and Implementation of the LRM in RDA contain further information about aspects of the project.

Return to Top of Page

Page updated 14 April 2017