Technical Services Committee

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A summary of: RDA and Public Services: Library Systems and RDA Implementation for Music (A session at MLA, Saturday March 1, 2014)

(An MLA session aimed at demystifying RDA for non-catalogers, and focusing on what changes can appear in public catalog displays)

Moderator and committee chair: Tom Bickley, California State University, East Bay Speakers: Elizabeth Hille Cribbs, Northern Illinois University; Sonya Archer-Capuzzo, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; and Patty Falk, Bowling Green State University

RDA, or Resource Description and Access, is a new set of guidelines and instructions for cataloging, replacing Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd Edition Revised. RDA was designed to work retrospectively with the MARC format, but also with other schema, such as Dublin Core, MODS, and others. For now, libraries are still using RDA in a MARC environment, which limits some of the freedom RDA allows. Work is underway at creating an alternative to MARC (possibly BibFrame, initiated by the Library of Congress), but until an alternative is fully developed, the vast majority of libraries are staying with MARC.

Changes in the descriptive rules and in authorized terminology, as well as changes in MARC fields and subfields, will affect local system displays.

Terminology and abbreviation changes

  • Most abbreviations will now be spelled out, for example:
    • p. will be pages
    • ill. will be illustrations
    • ed. will be edition
  • Some abbreviations will remain, for example: vol., min. and sec., (RDA Appendix B lists abbreviations that are still accepted.)
  • “cm” is now considered a symbol, not an abbreviation, and therefore does not have a period after it, unless it is followed by a series statement (according to ISBD punctuation rules)
  • Latin abbreviations will be replaced by regular English, for example:
    • S.l. will be Place of publication not identified
    • s.n. will be Publisher not identified
    • et al will be and others
    • ca. will be approximately

GMD and 3XX fields

The “General Material Designator” (GMD – i.e. the term [videorecording] or [sound recording] or [electronic resource] that appears within the title) is going away. Instead, three separate fields have been developed: Content type, Media type, and Carrier type. All three fields have controlled lists of available terms.

Content type (336 field)

As its name implies, Content type describes the nature of the underlying content. Terms include: Text, Still image, Performed music, Spoken word, Notated music, Cartographic image, Two-dimensional moving image, and others.

Media type (337 field)

Media type describes what general kind of intermediation device is needed. Terms include: Audio, Computer, Microform, Unmediated, Video, Projected, and others.

Carrier type (338 field)

Carrier type reflects the format of the storage or housing. Terms include: Audio disc, Audiocassette, Online resource, Microfiche, Volume, Videodisc, and others.

The issue is: These terms are not really what people use to refer to what they’re looking for (i.e. CD, DVD, eBook, and so on). Do we display these terms, or just some of them, or none? Can we use these terms to produce something in the OPAC that makes more sense to our users? (For example, icons in a results list that indicate what format an item is…) Check with your local systems or tech services staff to see what currently displays, and what is possible to change. Note: Terms that are more familiar to users do appear in the 347 Digital File Characteristics or Encoding Format note.

Publication and Imprint changes

RDA asks catalogers for much more granularity in describing publication, printing, manufacturing, distribution, and copyright information. Now, instead of combining all of those different roles into one field (260), they are all separated out into repeatable 264 fields (each with different indicator numbers, to distinguish between them). The categories are:

  • Production (for unpublished items)
  • Publication
  • Distribution
  • Manufacture (for published items)
  • Copyright notice date

Be sure that this new field displays in your OPAC. If you can alter your display configuration, decide what labels your library wants for each of the different types of 264 fields. Important note: This separation of imprint info into several fields has caused problems in auto-citation generators, such as RefWorks and Zotero!

Authorized terms: Preferred Names and Titles

There are several changes to how authorized names and preferred (formerly “uniform”) titles are created. Some of the changes include:

In preferred names:

  • Dates no longer include abbreviations, for example:
    • b.1859 will be 1859-
    • d. 1730 will be -1730
    • Fl. (for flourished) will be active
  • Qualifier for profession will now go in parentheses
  • No more abbreviations, for example:
    • Dept. will be Department
    • 19th C. will be Nineteenth century

In preferred titles:

  • $k Selections cannot be by itself. Must be $t Works. $k Selections.
  • Librettos are now listed under the librettist, not the composer. (This change is likely to cause the biggest uproar among patrons.) It should be noted, however, that a related work (in a 700 field with composer and opera) will be added to the record as a reference.
  • Only one language is allowed in a preferred title, so for polyglot translations, there will need to be a separate preferred title for each translation.

These are just a few of the changes to how preferred names and titles are formed. Other things you will see connected to preferred access points:

  • More relator terms at the end of name access points (such as performer, composer, illustrator, librettist, conductor, etc.). These relator terms may be searchable someday.
  • Relationship descriptions between works (such as “Container of (work): [title of component part],” “Sequel to (work): [title of previous work],” “Related (work): [title of related work],” etc.)

Other specifics about fields and subfields in MARC

546 Language Note Field

The 546 Language note field now includes type of musical notation in subfield $b, as well as the usual linguistic information in subfield $a. A 546 field with $b Staff notation is required for scores now, and is added separately from the language note.

518 Date/Time and Place of Event Note Field

The 518 Date/Time and Place of an Event field now provides the option of separating information into coded subfields, rather than in free text. Although a free text note in subfield $a is still allowable according to OCLC’s MARC documentation, MLA’s Best practices for RDA document encourages use of the coded subfields. Check your OPAC display to make sure the field is still intelligible if the coded subfields are present.

382 Medium of Performance Field

The 382 Medium of Performance field no longer has to follow the rule of listing only three instruments or instrument families. Much fuller medium of performance notes can be included. This is still a highly coded field, so display configurations must be carefully checked to make it intelligible to users, or opt not to display it at all.

Other specialized fields for describing characteristics of specific formats

  • 344 Sound characteristics (eg. playing speed, track configuration, playback channel characteristics, etc.)
  • 345 Projection characteristics of moving images
  • 346 Video characteristics
  • 347 Digital file characteristics (actually for tangible objects, not online resources, so this applies to CDs, DVDs, SACDs, Blue-ray, and so on.)
  • 383 Numeric designation of musical work
  • 384 Key of musical work

Overall suggestions for adjusting to RDA

  • Decide which fields to display or suppress, and what field labels in the OPAC should be added or changed.
  • Ask Cataloging and Systems staff to make the following changes, if your local ILS is customizable:
    • Change display configurations
    • Change indexing configurations
    • Make changes in validation tables
    • Add new MARC fields to Import and Export profiles
    • Create new macros, if that is something that your staff uses
  • Test the OPAC for how RDA records appear.
  • Find out what your ILS vendors are doing to accommodate RDA.
  • Take a look at this important book: RDA: Strategies for Implementation, published by ALA, 2013.
  • Take a look at the online document produced by MLA’s Bibliographic Control Committee (BCC): Best Practices for Music Cataloging using RDA and MARC21

Submitted by Rebecca McCallum, on behalf of the NEMLA Technical Services Committee. Questions, suggestions, or corrections? Please email