27 June 2008

confluence, RDA, Big Heads

It may be a wonderful confluence of cataloging trends. At this morning's Big Heads, there was a report from John Attig about RDA development and implementation as well as a discussion of the LC response to the report of the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control and on the results of a survey on vendor records. At two or three points, the concept of embryonic bibliographic records came up. The embryo is not the important aspect; the evolution of that record and the accretion of additional access is what makes the concept potentially revolutionary.

RDA is different from AACR2 in discussing the nature and form of an element more than how the elements fit together. While that can be frustrating for us catalogers who have been at it for a while, it can also be freeing. Since the implementation of ISBD in the mid-1970s, we have thought of a bib record as having a character that could be marked as pre-ISBD, ISBD, or AACR. As we move into RDA, it may be more profitable to think of elements as RDA but not worth it to try to code a record as RDA.

It seems to me this really fits with the idea of a record that accretes information. The record might start out as the barest description but adds descriptive elements, subject headings, call numbers, etc as it is used by various catalogers and other record builders. As the book is used, the record might also grow with social tags, reviews, relationships, pictures of the bookjacket, sample text, full text links, whatever. Sounds a bit like Amazon or Flickr.

It will be interesting to see how this mindframe works itself out in the MARBI discussions of RDA and MARC, perhaps especially how the FRBR Group 1 entities play out.

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