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RDA and OCLC

OCLC policy statement on RDA Cataloging in WorldCat through March 30, 2013

With the installation of capabilities as described in Technical Bulletin 258, OCLC has now implemented most of the MARC 21 format changes for initial support of RDA: Resource Description & Access. OCLC has also implemented links to the RDA toolkit for toolkit subscribers in the Connexion Browser and in Connexion Client 2.3. In the U.S., the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, and the National Library of Medicine coordinated a test that involved those institutions and a group of additional institutions selected from the broader U.S. library community. More information about the testing process can be found on the Library of Congress web site.

The timeline for the testing included a 90-day period in which testing participants familiarized themselves with the content of RDA and the RDA Toolkit, a 2nd 90-day period in which the testing participants produced records, and a 3rd 90-day period in which the Steering Committee for the testing evaluated the results and produced its report. That report has now been shared with the wider library community. Widespread adoption of RDA within the U.S. is not expected now until January 2013 or later. OCLC is committed to supporting OCLC members who wish to implement RDA in their libraries but will not require that all libraries adopt RDA.

Many of the institutions that participated in the testing are OCLC member libraries and have added RDA-based records to WorldCat, either online through Connexion or through batchloading. OCLC cataloging members who are not testing participants also have tried RDA cataloging. Some RDA test participants, including the Library of Congress plan to continue cataloging using RDA with some or all of their cataloging production until the implementation date. OCLC urges that cataloging staff members take time to become familiar with the content and use of RDA before beginning the creation of RDA records. Library of Congress staff have made available a variety of training materials that will help in the familiarization process.

Until further notice, OCLC asks that the following protocols be respected by OCLC member libraries:

  • Catalogers may contribute original cataloging using RDA to WorldCat if desired. (040 $e with value rda and Leader/18 (Desc) coded i if ISBD punctuation is used or blank if not).
  • For materials other than continuing resources, catalogers are asked NOT to edit a WorldCat full-level master record (ELvl values blank148I, and L) to change it from one set of rules to another. In other words, if the record was created according to AACR2 (and coded as such), please do not change the master record to RDA. If the record was created according to RDA (and coded as such), please do not change the master record to AACR2.
  • For records describing continuing resources, a cataloger may change a record from AACR2 (or earlier rules) to RDA as part of the process of updating information in the record. Once the record has been changed to RDA, please do not change it back to AACR2.
  • If a record is a minimal-level or less than minimal-level record (ELvl values KM235, and 7), a cataloger may change the record from AACR2 to RDA as a part of the process of upgrading the record to full-level (ELvl values blank14, andI,). As in the previous bullet, please do not change it back to AACR2 once it has been upgraded and changed to RDA.
  • If an existing record is not coded as following either AACR2 or RDA (i.e. coded blank or i in Leader/18 (Desc) and 040$e is not present), a cataloger may edit the master record to follow either AACR2 or RDA when upgrading the record.
  • When performing copy cataloging, catalogers may LOCALLY edit records created under any rules to another set of rules. Please do NOT replace the master record for this purpose (unless upgrading as outlined in the previous 2 bullets).
  • If a record created according to either AACR2 or RDA already exists in WorldCat, please do NOT create a duplicate record according to the other code. Such duplicates are not within the scope of the OCLC policy on parallel records and OCLC staff will merge them if found.

These protocols, which applied for the duration of the nine month RDA test period, continue to apply until further notice. OCLC will reconsider this policy during the remainder of 2011 and will seek comment from the OCLC membership on how widespread implementation could affect WorldCat before making policy decisions going forward.

(June 2011)