Sitting in the CC:DA meeting at ALA last week, listening to the RDA report and the questions it generated, I was struck yet again by the disconnect between the understanding by the audience of RDA as a content model — the Instructions as embodied in the Toolkit — and the presentation by the speakers of the changes to both the RDA Toolkit and the RDA Registry in terms of the changes to the RDA data model.
In the case of the Toolkit, a significant part of the reorganization is intended to better align the Toolkit with the Registry, the data model. In the case of the Registry, a significant portion of the changes are intended to continue the current data model’s status as an implementation of FRBR, and to adjust the model to accommodate the consolidation of the various FRBR models into the IFLA LRM.
From its inception, the Toolkit has reflected the RDA instructions, an upgraded and internationalized version of AACR2, originally intended to provide content instructions for populating the MARC21 carrier, while conceptually describing the data in terms of the FRBR-oriented RDA carrier. The changes to the Toolkit are a necessary evolution away from the slowly devolving MARC21 data model toward the RDA data model. But the audience doesn’t, can’t, easily see that distinction, and the ‘questions’ swirl around expressions of discomfort with the changes that reflect a lack of understanding of the broadening disconnect between the Toolkit and the Registry, and between RDA and MARC21.
This cognitive dissonance must be addressed by the RSC and its representatives at every future opportunity when discussing the rationale for both the alignment of the RDA data model with IFLA LRM, and the alignment of the RDA content model in the Toolkit with the RDA data model. In that context, the global bibliographic community needs definitive guidance in understanding the relationship between the entities and elements of the RDA data model and the MARC21 data model in which they currently create and maintain their metadata.