I can’t remember when I first met Christine, but I certainly knew her well enough to make an informal (and more than a bit subversive) proposal to her at DC-2008 in Berlin. Jon & I had been discussing how RDA might develop translations — this was about the time when we had added the Properties and subProperties, based on the RDA relationships originally published in the Appendices, into the OMR. Many of the readers of this blog may remember that the 2008-2013 versions of the RDA Vocabularies were never formally published by the JSC, but that changed in 2014 when the RDA Registry was unveiled.

In Berlin we decided to approach Christine about working with us to demonstrate how the translations might work. We knew the German librarians were very interested in participating in RDA and had been pushing at the JSC’s door for some time. We thought she would at least hear us out, but we were in no way convinced that she’d be very interested. We knew that catalog librarians in particular were very imprinted on rules, and we suspected that those from Germany might be even more so. How wrong we were!

We made sure that Christine knew that we hadn’t asked permission, and there might be repercussions from this subversive activity, even if it were only a demonstration. To our surprise, she said yes, with a visible twinkle in her eye at the thought of such an outrageous project. The repercussions I was worried about stemmed from some discomfort JSC had about us at that point. They didn’t understand what we were trying to do, and someone accused us of stealing their work (I couldn’t make that up).

So Christine didn’t just say yes, she followed through, appointing Veronika Leibrecht from her shop, who spoke both German and English. Veronika did a fantastic job, and after that we rarely missed a chance to show folks looking at the OMR that there was a German translation. RDA now has (or is working on) translations in the RDA Registry that include Catalan, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.

This story came to mind immediately when I heard that Christine had died last week. It was clear to us that in addition to the many professional and personal qualities mentioned by those who knew her, she had a vision of a multi-lingual future for RDA that she had the courage to help get moving. That’s a legacy to be celebrated.

By Diane Hillmann, February 10, 2018, 8:44 pm (UTC-5)

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  1. Comment by Daniel Lovins

    Thanks for sharing this bit of history with us, Diane, and shedding light on the contributions of Christine Frodl and Vernokia Leibrecht. It’s interesting to consider how something so important and valuable (i.e., multilingual versions of RDA Vocabularies), or even taken for granted, have roots in the work of a few determined individuals with deep knowledge, vision and entrepreneurial spirit.

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