Resource Description and Access (RDA)

The standard for descriptive cataloguing in Libraries Australia is Resource Description and Access (RDA).

Resource Description and Access (RDA) has replaced 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 provides more guidance on the creation of authority headings

  • is compatible with a range of encoding schemas, such as MODS, Dublin Core, ONIX and MARC, allowing library catalogue records to be integrated with those produced by other metadata communities

  • facilitates the clustering of bibliographic records for different editions, translations or formats of a work, and more meaningful presentation of data to users

  • is a web-based product, enabling cataloguers to view different levels of completeness of the code, move between related instructions using hyperlinks, and integrate their own institutional policies

  • 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)

Changes to Libraries Australia to support RDA

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

Cataloguing policy changes

Libraries Australia does not compel libraries to catalogue according to RDA. Libraries may contribute records formulated according to any recognised cataloguing standard they choose to follow.

Libraries Australia is committed to supporting the creation and exchange of records. Just as records created according to older cataloguing rules continue to be used and exchanged some 30 years after the implementation of AACR2, these and AACR2 records will continue to be used and will coexist in library systems with RDA records.

For libraries choosing to follow the RDA standard, Libraries Australia has a standard called Required Data Elements. In addition to the RDA changes, the Required Data Elements include a small number of additional codes and fields that make matching and merging more accurate and result in fewer duplicate records.

Copy cataloguing

Libraries downloading records from Libraries Australia may choose to use the downloaded records as they are, or modify them in their local system to suit their own requirements. Cataloguers are not required to upgrade records to RDA. However, since RDA is now the preferred standard, cataloguers should not change RDA records to conform to earlier cataloguing standards.

Hybrid records

When editing and replacing records in the ANBD, cataloguers may choose to add RDA data elements to existing non-RDA records without re-cataloguing the entire record to meet the RDA cataloguing standard. The resulting record is considered to be a hybrid record as it contains elements of previous cataloguing standards, such as AACR2, as well as RDA.

Modifying older records by adding RDA data elements causes no harm—and in fact can make bibliographic records easier for users to read and interpret.

Libraries Australia is actively creating hybrid records for authority and bibliographic records. In the merging process, elements from the un-preferred record are added to the preferred record, so RDA elements may be added to AACR2 records, and vice versa.

Cataloguers may also create hybrid records if they choose to add any of the following to a non-RDA record:

  • add relator terms to access points

  • spell out non-transcribed abbreviations

  • add complete statements of responsibility (replacing ‘[et al.]’)

  • add in the 336, 337, 338 fields.

When adding or editing elements such as these, do not re-code the record as RDA.

Libraries Australia and the ANBD operate within a cooperative cataloguing environment. When hybridising a record, member libraries should consider this shared environment and for best practice:

  • not remove valid AACR2 elements when enhancing records. If it is not wrong, leave it in.

  • avoid making stylistic edits. The objective of editing a bibliographic record should be to enhance the record to improve user access.

If you are not sure, ask for advice by contacting Libraries Australia member support.

The Program for Cooperative Cataloguing (PCC) provides more information on acceptable enhancements to non-RDA records. See PCC Hybrid Bibliographic Record Guidelines, page 9.

Upgrading existing records

Cataloguers are not required to upgrade existing records to RDA.

Just as cataloguers have been able to upgrade pre-AACR2 records to AACR2, now cataloguers may upgrade records catalogued according to a non-RDA standard to RDA. If re-coding a record as RDA, the entire record must be examined and upgraded before changing the coding to RDA. Cataloguers may only do this with the item in hand, so that all the necessary information is available. Once assessed as RDA compliant, a record can be coded as RDA (Leader/18=i, 040 $e=rda).

For libraries looking to retrospectively upgrade their records to conform with RDA, the PCC Hybrid Bibliographic Record Guidelines  report details which enhancements may be performed through global system changes (such as spelling out non-transcribed abbreviations) and which enhancements require cataloguers to have the item in hand.

For more information, see:

How does Libraries Australia support RDA?

Since the adoption of RDA as the preferred cataloguing standard, Libraries Australia has implemented a number of changes to support the creation and exchange of RDA data.

Data changes

Libraries Australia has changed selected authority records to reflect RDA practice. These include headings for the Bible and Koran, and spelling out abbreviations for musical terms and ‘Dept.’.

Libraries Australia 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.

System changes

Cataloguing service

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

  • support for new MARC field 264

  • changes to the Record Import Service (RIS) 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.

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 (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.

Trove and WorldCat

All changes made to bibliographic data flow through to Trove and WorldCat. 

For more information

For more information: