National Library of Australia

General background FAQ

What is RDA?

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

What are the benefits of RDA?

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.

Who is responsible for the development of RDA?

Two international bodies are responsible for the development of RDA – the Joint Steering Committee for RDA (JSC) and the Committee of Principles (CoP).

The JSC is responsible for developing the new cataloguing rules and for consultation with stakeholder groups.  Membership of the JSC is drawn from the American Library Association (ALA), the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), the Australian Committee on Cataloguing (ACOC), the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, the British Library, and the Library of Congress.

ACOC, which is a joint committee of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the National Library of Australia (NLA), represents the interests of Australian libraries on the JSC.

The JSC reports to the CoP, which is responsible for over-arching policy as well as budget and management issues.  The CoP comprises representatives from the Canadian Library Association, ALA, CILIP, the Library of Congress, Library and Archives Canada, the British Library, and the NLA.

When will RDA be implemented in Australia?

The National Library of Australia will implement in the first quarter of 2013. The national libraries of Britain, Canada and Australia, along with the Library of Congress will implement in the same timeframe.

Each individual library will need to decide when they will implement RDA and to devise their own implementation schedule

How can I access RDA?

RDA is available as an online, web-based product called the RDA Toolkit. Although the preferred way for most users to access RDA is online via the RDA Toolkit, print copies of the RDA instructions are also be available for purchase.

For information on RDA Toolkit subscription options and pricing please visit the Co-Publishers website The site includes full details for consortia and group subscriptions and special extensions for training and classroom access.

For further details about RDA print products visit the Co-Publisher site. For libraries outside North America pricing and ordering information for print copies is available at Facet Publishing along with other newly published RDA related resources. 

What does my library need to do to implement RDA?

Each individual library will need to decide when they will implement RDA and to devise their own implementation schedule. Each library will have different implementation tasks depending on a range of factors, for example whether they do their own cataloguing, if they purchase all or some of their catalogue records, which library system they use, if they intend to engage an external trainer.

Further information about planning for RDA implementation can be found at:

What is the National Library of Australia’s role?

The NLA has been closely involved in the development of RDA, with Deirdre Kiorgaard representing ACOC and chairing the JSC and with Pam Gatenby representing the NLA on the CoP.

The NLA will work with ALIA, ACOC, library schools, training agencies, system vendors, and other national libraries to ensure that the transition to RDA is smooth.

The NLA, in cooperation with ACOC, will provide train-the-trainer courses at cost price for library trainers and educators, as well as larger libraries that intend to train their own staff in-house.

Other than “Train the trainer” training, the National Library will not have a role in providing RDA training to the Australian library community.  However, all of the documentation created for the “Train the trainer” training will be made freely available on the website of the Australian Committee on Cataloguing (ACOC).

Libraries Australia is committed to implementing full support for RDA (i.e. matching/merging and changes to cataloguing templates) in all Libraries Australia systems (Production and Training) by late 2012 or early 2013

How do I get training?

Information about Australian courses and contact details for Australian training agents are provided on the ACOC website.

How do I keep informed?

In addition to monitoring this web site. You can:

  • Subscribe to rdaaust email discussion list. 
  • Contact the RDA Implementation Team at the National Library of Australia at
  • Information about RDA development and additional FAQs are also available on the JSC website. JSC's URL is: