Diane Hillman makes an excellent point in her new post on RDA and future updates. That point is who’s going to care for RDA once it is rolled out.
Let me back up. Diane explains that the process of developing RDA has mostly been clouded in mystery. In her words:
I can’t help looking back at the process of creating RDA in the first place. In the beginning, there was the closed room with the JSC working under the cone of silence. Then, after rumblings from the field, drafts were released only to specific people in selected organizations who then became gatekeepers for their communities. Then when that didn’t work very well, drafts were released publicly. But still, the same small group made the decisions, managed the discussion, and held their meetings essentially behind closed doors, with decisions handed down from on high in a process that seemed anachronistic at best and elitist at worst.
I and others have experienced first hand this process. Until recently, it has been difficult to get information about RDA. Now, a draft is online both in PDF and HTML versions. However, the chapters in PDF are not easy to download. Many chapters are not there. Information is still missing.
New updates are being discussed…again behind closed doors. The good news is a new blog from the ALA rep John Attig at http://www.personal.psu.edu/jxa16/blogs/resource_description_and_access_ala_rep_notes/. From this blog, one learns that at the recent meeting of the JSC, only 500 comments out of 1200 had been commented on and resolved.
But, again, it is the same group that is deciding on those comments and making resolutions. To return to Diane’s worry, this group will change once RDA goes into service. The editor, Tom Delsey, will be stepping down. Essentially, there will be a break in the group that has brought RDA to fruition. What will happen to RDA afterwards in terms of maintenance?
Like Diane, I am not reassured by this change. I am neither reassured by the lack of forthcoming information about RDA and the RDA’s future. There have been several discussions on cataloging listservs about what is RDA, how will affect cataloging workflows, and other questions. It is difficult to get answers to these questions. One of the problems is simply that perhaps no one really knows the answers to them.