Shawne D. Miksa on RDA and Research

In the latest issue of the ASIS&T Bulletin (June/July 2009), Shawne D. Miksa wrote an insightful article called Resource Description and Access (RDA) and new research potentials at: http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Jun-09/JunJul09_Miksa.html.

The article does two things well. First, it formulates a brief and concise summary of RDA and the controversies surrounding RDA. For those following the discussion, this information is not new, but provides another opportunity to get familiar with the subject. For those who haven’t, her summary provides a good introduction to the topic.

The second point is where I think Shawne Miksa’s article goes beyond simple summary and into areas critical for the world of cataloging. At the end of her article, she outlines several points where RDA can lead to several new research avenues, whether it will be used in the future or not.

Among some of the points, she mentions:

  • Redesign of Integrated Library Systems
  • Redefining the library catalog
  • Adding non-traditional data to records such as keywords or tag clouds

Shawne Miksa is correct to highlight these new points of departure for the world of cataloging, in particular the redesign of our ILS’s. Even if RDA does not replace AACR2 as a content standard, it will hopefully push vendors and others to reconsider how we catalog and how what we catalog comes into contact with and interacts with users. If users and those who use ILS’s from the back end want more flexibility, a more dynamic, a more streamlined, and an easier interface, then many ILS’s need to be redesigned. A first step is to (re)consider the use of using MARC21. Don’t get me wrong. I use MARC21 and enjoy it. At the same time, I question the flexibility of the MARC21 format in comparison to MARCXML for example. Also, as Miksa points out, RDA changes our focus from the bibliographic record to content (data) that leads to information searching, browsing, and discovery. Is MARC21 ready for this change of focus?

It’s a short article but give it a read! It will be interesting to see how Miksa develops these ideas in her forthcoming book on RDA due out in April 2010.

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