RDA just clicked. The little man who turned the lights off in my head at the ACOC conference the other week decided to come visiting and turn them back on. Thankyou little man.
Okay, if we ignore authority data (which we shall), here is how things stand.
Currently most library systems have two types of records, a bibliographic record and a holdings record.
The bibliographic record contains all data about the ‘thing’; title, uniform title, author/s, contributors, language, date published, etc etc. The holdings record contains data about the individual copy of the ‘thing’; the barcode number, the unit price, the date added to the system, etc.
Good still? Good.
What RDA plans to achieve is four types of record; work, expression, manifestation and item. Using a direct comparison between what we currently have and what RDA wants us to have, the bibliographic record correlates to the manifestation record and the holdings record correlates to the item record.
Still good? Me too.
Because we have all these fancy, intricate ILS/LMS/library systems at the moment, we are stuck into the current way of thinking (bib record + holdings record). Therefore, what RDA are going to do as an interim step is combine the work/expression/manifestation records into one file (the MaRC file) and the item into the holdings record. This interim step allows for everyone to think what we would like for the future.
Because of this, it appears that we are walking forward in the cataloguing world at the pace of a relaxed snail. In reality, we are laying down the foundation for the next generation of cataloguing (which will be integrated into the next generation of ILS/LMS/library systems).
I’m still not terribly excited, but at least I understand what is going on.