Report of the AALL Representative to the American Library Association,
Association for Library Collections and Technical Services,
Cataloging and Classification Section: Description and Access (CC:DA)
Midwinter Meeting, Philadelphia, January 11-15, 2008
Annual Meeting, Anaheim, June 28-30, 2008
Robert Crown Law Library
kwinzer [at] stanford.edu
This report is my last as the AALL representative to the American Library Association's Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA). John Hostage will replace me, and a more knowledgeable and effective representative would be hard to find!
I would like to thank the Descriptive Cataloging Policy Advisory Working Group members who helped throughout the year with comments on the draft, advice, and encouragement, often with extremely short deadlines. The chair, Ann Sitkin, made sure that all of my requests for assistance were sent to the group, and her counsel and suggestions were always helpful and positive. John Hostage had the brilliant idea of setting up wiki for comments on the December draft of RDA, allowing participating members of the committee to place their comments under the various issues being discussed. Going forward, some of the ideas and suggestions that were entered into the wiki may help to formulate proposals for changes in RDA rules.
For the last few years the CC:DA has spent a lot of time and energy reviewing and commenting on the various drafts of RDA: Resource Description and Access, commonly called RDA, which hopes to replace Anglo American Cataloging Rules, 2nd ed.. RDA emanates from the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA (JSC) which includes representatives from Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Because the legal rules were on the agenda, I attended their October meeting in Chicago. At the start of the meeting, the editor of RDA proposed substantial changes in the structure and organization of the document. The changes were suggested to better align RDA with FRBR, and after some discussion, the JSC accepted the new structure. The new organization is provided on the JSC website at: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/jsc/rda-new-org.html. Unfortunately, the legal rules were not discussed at the meeting, and I was sent off to work on examples for rules that consisted of the phrase: "To be discussed."
In December and at the January meeting, CC:DA reviewed a draft of sections 2-4 and 9, which correspond to part B, access control in the previous structure. The Descriptive Cataloging Policy Advisory Working Group took advantage of a pbwiki set up by John Hostage. The wiki format allowed us to discuss the issues in an organized way with separate pages for treaties, court reports, and commentaries, as well as the uniform titles Laws, etc. and Treaties, etc. Trying to keep track of these disparate subjects was extremely difficult with email, where one message might include comments on several topics, and I very much appreciated John's great idea. The comments entered in the wiki informed the comments I entered into the CC:DA wiki, and many were later incorporated into the ALA document that was sent to the Joint Steering Committee for RDA. In particular, AALL recommended that the rules for court reporters be simplified, and that the rules for treaties be both simplified and clarified. In response to the JSC request for alternatives to the uniform title conventions of "laws, etc." and "treaties, etc.," we were unable to identify a practical alternative. These will remain until after the publication of RDA in 2009. The full ALA response to the draft is at: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/jsc/docs/5rda-sec2349-alaresp.pdf (339 KB PDF), and the law rules start at 6.23 at the bottom of page 22. Also of interest are the comments on heads of government and heads of state. RDA follows AACR2 in using the language of the jurisdiction for heads of government, but using the language of the cataloging agency for heads of state. ALA suggests that access points for both be created in the language of the jurisdiction.
Part of the difficulty of providing meaningful feedback for the drafts of RDA has been the way drafts are issued. New draft chapters are issued (and sometimes reissued) for review in isolation, and understanding how (or whether) it will all work together is impossible. The JSC plans to release a full draft in October using the software of the final online version. We will have a three month period to comment on how the various parts of the whole work together. Comments on the actual rules will not be addressed until after publication. Once RDA is published, the three national libraries, some library educators, and a variety of libraries will spend some months testing to ensure that it is a workable and useful tool. Implementation will follow if the testing is successful, perhaps in early 2010. Task groups are now working on implementation and training issues that will ease the transition to the new rules. RDA training workshops tailored to law catalogers will be important in enabling law libraries to understand and follow the new rules. The new CC:DA representative will no doubt play an important role as we move forward.
Since the JSC is not planning to entertain any comments on RDA rules until after publication, AALL will have some time to prepare detailed proposals for rule changes that we identify in the October draft. Possible areas where we may want to suggest changes include the rules for court reports, constitutions, and treaties. The JSC still wishes to eliminate the "etc." from "Laws, etc." and "Treaties, etc." Although AALL did suggest a way to eliminate "etc.," that suggestion did not go forward in the ALA report. Since AALL's comments are in the wiki, we will still have the suggestion we formulated to consider in the future.
In addition to RDA, CC:DA is also considering next steps in response to the report from the LC Working Group on the Future of the Bibliographic Record. An ALCTS Task Group identified a number of recommendations which will require CC:DA participation. A few of these: Analyze cataloging standards & modify them to support data sharing; Make use of bibliographic data from foreign libraries, publishers, etc. that may not conform to U.S. standards; Share responsibility for original cataloging; Promote participation in PCC. In coming months the new representative to CC:DA from AALL will doubtless be asked to work on some of these issues as groups are formed to address them.