Resource Description and Access (RDA)

What is RDA?

Resource Description and Access (RDA) is the new descriptive cataloguing standard that will replace AACR2. 

What are the benefits?

RDA builds on the strengths of AACR2 but has some new features that make it more useful as a cataloguing code for the digital environment in which libraries now operate.

  • RDA is better at catering for digital resources and for resources with multiple characteristics, and will provide more guidance on the creation of authority headings.
  • RDA is compatible with a range of encoding schemas, such as MODS, Dublin Core, ONIX and MARC, which will allow library catalogue records to be integrated with those produced by other metadata communities.
  • RDA facilitates the clustering of bibliographic records for different editions, translations or formats of a work, and the more meaningful presentation of data to users.
  • RDA is a web-based product, which will enable cataloguers to view different levels of completeness of the code, move between related instructions using hyperlinks, and integrate their own institutional policies.
  • RDA is a transitional stepping stone that requires only small changes to catalogue records but moves the metadata in catalogues much closer to full utilisation of FRBR models.

[Source: Australian Committee on Cataloguing (ACOC) RDA web site]

Changes to Libraries Australia to support RDA

Libraries Australia is adopting RDA as the preferred cataloguing standard from April 2013 and has implemented a number of changes to support the creation and exchange of RDA data.

System Changes

Cataloguing Service

The following changes to the Cataloguing Service (including the Training System) have been implemented:

  • Support for new MARC field 264 which will replace field 260 in RDA records.
  • Changes to the Record Import Service (RIS) matching and merging to give preference to RDA records over records created according to Anglo American Cataloging Rules 2nd edition (AACR2) and older standards.

Replacement of the current Libraries Australia Cataloguing Client templates with new RDA templates will be happening in the coming weeks.

The Libraries Australia Cataloguing system supports the use of 33X fields via RIS and the Cataloguing Client. A list of all the MARC21 changes that have already been made to support RDA  is available.

Search Service

The following changes have been made to the Libraries Australia Search service to support the searching and display of RDA data elements:

  • Support for searching and display of RDA data elements.
  • Addition of RDA fields 336, 337 and 338 in the Web Cataloguing Input form.

A summary of the RDA related changes in Libraries Australia Search is available.

Document Delivery Service

The following changes have been made to the Document Delivery service:

  • Data from the 336, 337 and 338 fields are now visible in bibliographic search results in Libraries Australia Document Delivery (LADD).
  • Data from the Physical Medium fields (i.e. 336, 337 and 338 fields) will be mapped to the end of the Item description field in the requests form, and request screens for both requester and responder.
  • The Item description field will now be visible in both monograph and copy requests.


 All changes will flow through to Trove


Cataloguing Policy changes

With the introduction of RDA, Libraries Australia is replacing the current Minimum Record Standard with a new standard called Required Data Elements. In addition to the RDA changes the new standard includes a small number of additional codes and fields that will make matching and merging more accurate and result in fewer duplicate records.

From March onwards RDA will be the standard for new records added to Libraries Australia.

Cataloguers using an existing non-RDA record for copy cataloguing will then be able to choose to:

  •  Upgrade it to RDA; however, this is not compulsory. If upgrading a record, the entire record must be examined and upgraded before changing the coding to RDA.
  • Add selected RDA data elements to existing non-RDA records.  However, the coding of the record should not be changed to RDA unless the entire record has been examined and upgraded.

Data changes

Libraries Australia is already in the process of changing selected Authority records to reflect RDA practice. These include headings for the Bible and Koran, and spelling out abbreviations for musical terms and “Dept.”. These changes will appear in the LA Cataloguing service as soon as they made but some won’t appear in LA Search until the search platform is replaced later in the year.

We will also investigate opportunities for global changes to selected bibliographic records so that they more closely reflect RDA practice. These may include addition of 33X fields (where there is no ambiguity) and the spelling out of abbreviations in some fields.

More information

If you have any questions about the Libraries Australia RDA implementation, please contact the Help Desk: Make a new Libraries Australia enquiry.

More information about the Australian implementation of RDA, including the availability of RDA training courses, may be found on the ACOC RDA web site.