I know many of you are puzzled by this event, so do take a look at a rundown of the plans on the RDA Toolkit Blog.

Not so surprisingly, we were inspired by the notion of a hackathon, but it had to be focused on something other than computer code and application building. All of us have heard conflicting opinions about whether RDA can be fully functional, whether FRBR works and will benefit users, or whether it’s just all too complicated. The big gap in addressing these questions has been the challenge in doing something hands-on instead of the usual sage-on-the-stage doling out large piles of handouts. There are still realities that need to be recognized, as we take a hands-on look at RDA and build some real RDA data.

First of these realities is that RDA has been in development for a hell of a long time, and the rules (the part that gets the most attention, and some think really IS the whole of RDA) started out as AACR3. As one who’s been watching this space (from the outside and the inside) since the beginning, I can confirm that the the notion of AACR3 is a historical artifact, nothing to do with what RDA has become.

I’ve been ranting and railing for years (too many to count) that RDA must be more than rules. And it is–see the RDA Registry for evidence of that. This leads me to the second reality: all of us are learning as we go. The first iteration of the RDA Vocabularies, developed by the DCMI/RDA Task Group after a famous meeting in London in the Spring of 2007, were never published. The published version, much improved, was released early in 2013 along with the new RDA Registry. The learning-by-doing was happening in a lot of other standards-focused groups: IFLA and W3C for example. FRBR, an essential part of the RDA model, was evolving along with RDA, and that fact led to a couple of interesting compromises, still working themselves out.

I can promise you that the Jane-athon will reflect all of those realities, and in addition build out the community familiar with the lessons yet to be learned. There won’t be any papering over of gaps, downplaying of issues, or anything like that. At the Jane-athon we will demonstrate that building real RDA records in the context of FRBR is not a future dream, it’s happening now. What you will see as a participant is the reality–the ability to work within a FRBR flow, to import MARC records and see the system map them into FRBR constructs, to create links with NAF information, and view the results as a tree that highlights the relationships.

Perhaps most important, we want to have fun with this. There will be no quizzes, no grades, no transcripts. That’s why we chose to focus on two sets of materials with great potential to benefit from a FRBR-based approach. Early in the day you’ll walk through the business of creating cataloging for Blade Runner resources (original book by Philip K. Dick), translations, film, etc. After that we’ll turn the group loose on Jane Austen (with some made-ahead basic data). After the flurry of data creation, we’ll be looking at the results, highlighting issues that come up, and not incidentally, getting some feedback from the participants about the tools, processes, and the beta-Jane-athon in its entirety.

We know (and welcome the fact) that not everyone attending will be a cataloger, much less all that familiar with RDA. There will be a place and a role for everyone who wants to learn more, and to dig in and get their hands [virtually] dirty. There is no need to cram for this event, or to study the RDA rules or cataloging before you come. If you want to get a bit familiar with RIMMF before you come, by all means take a look at the site, download the software, and play. The only requirement is an open mind and some excitement about the possibilities (some trepidation is okay too).

Once you have registered for ALA Midwinter in Chicago, you can sign up for the Jane-athon.The Jane-athon is already available as a paid addition of the full registration for ALA Midwinter in Chicago.

Please feel free to use the comments portion of this post to ask questions, or use the RDA-L list to bring up questions and concerns.

We hope to see you there!

By Diane Hillmann, November 30, 2014, 2:59 pm (UTC-5)

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