I've read most of the recently released RDA drafts and sent comments in for the constituent review. I'm fully behind moving forward with RDA development and I'm anxious to see the complete draft due out this summer. Here's are a few general thoughts and questions about the latest drafts, RDA, section 2-4, 9 that were issued in December 2007:
- In general, catalogers familiar with AACR2 are going to get confused deciding when something is a “work” and when something is an “expression.” Even though these terms are defined in rule 5.1.1 there is the conceptual problem of never having had to think about these entities that much before, especially expression. This will be a important area for RDA implementation.
- The new organization of RDA chops up the rules putting them into many different chapters. Again, rather than simplifying the rules this adds complexity. Consider collapsing some of the chapters, e.g., chapters 5, 6, and 7 could be collapsed. As RDA gets revised I hope complexity is checked. Let's keep it when necessary, but prefer to simplify and streamline the new code when possible.
- Does the new organization of RDA lock catalogers, et al. into one conceptual model—FRBR? Also, does the new organization locks the user of RDA into one interpretation of FRBR?
- Some of the language used in these rules is so precise and technical because of the strict application of FRBR concepts and terminology. The rules force the users to think in terms of work, expression, manifestation, and item at every turn. Does RDA have to be so closely tied to FRBR? Can the rules be more open to other conceptual models?
- More emphasis should be placed on flexibility in applying the level of detail in RDA. I don’t see enough of this type of guidance in the current drafts. Catalogers and metadata librarians should feel free to apply as much or as little of the RDA rules as they need.