The ALA Annual Conference in Orlando was an unusual one for me, in that it marked the end of my four-year stint on two committees, CC:DA (Cataloging Committee: Description and Access) and the Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee. For eight conferences over these past four years, the meetings for those two committees have dominated my ALA experience (especially CC:DA which always involves a 4.5 hour meeting on Saturday and a 3 hour meeting on Monday). It’ll be interesting to see what Midwinter in Atlanta is like without those two committees eating up the bulk of my time.
But that’s in the future. As for ALA in Orlando, CC:DA continued to be on of my major obligations. This committee develops ALA’s position on RDA and entails reading and voting on proposals to revise RDA. This past year has been very quiet on the proposal-front, especially since Midwinter. Now, the fact that we had relatively few proposals compared to years past (particularly my first year) could mean that RDA is just about finished and doesn’t need much further tinkering, but I doubt it. I think it’s probably due to the fact that the draft of FRBR-LRM (Library Reference Model) was made public in March. The FRBR model provides most of the conceptual underpinnings of RDA, and FRBR-LRM is a big enough change to the model (it adds new entities such as place and timespan) that it will have ripple effects that will change RDA. I think the cataloging community is holding their breath until FRBR-LRM is finally officially adopted by the RDA Steering Committee (RSC), before trying to figure out what it means for the future of RDA.
And, according to a presentation by Gordon Dunsire, the Chair of the RSC, FRBR-LRM will likely be revised, but it will remain substantially unchanged from the draft model. Dunsire also talked about the development of RDA application profiles, which can be set locally and which provide guidance to catalogers using RDA in original cataloging. In addition, Dunsire touched on an interesting problem related to the attempt to adopt gender-neutral language in RDA, because English is the primary language of RDA, and it is then translated into other languages. Gender-neutral uses of terms in English do not make sense in languages where nouns are gendered (for example, “actor” can be used for men or women in English, but in French, “acteur” is for men and “actrice” is for women,” and it sounds bizarre in French to call a woman an “acteur”). This problem will have to be ironed out by the translation teams.
In addition to this RDA business, I also heard a fair amount about BIBFRAME. At the Cataloging Norms Interest Group meeting, I heard about LC’s BIBFRAME pilot project, which started in October, 2015. This involved having LC catalogers create original catalog records in both MARC and in BIBFRAME, using the BIBFRAME Editor software. The project was difficult, because searching BIBFRAME (or BF) data was problematic, they couldn’t create authority records in BF, and they couldn’t import BF. BF 1.0 has been replaced by BF 2.0, so hopefully some of these problems have been resolved. During the pilot project, one of the lessons learned was realizing that catalogers are too used to thinking about cataloging in terms of filling specific MARC fields rather than the more conceptual ideas of RDA. Furthermore, the mismatch between RDA terminology and BF terminology caused problems (for example, BF has a work record, which combines the RDA/FRBR concepts of work and expression). Additionally, catalogers still continue to think in terms of ISBD, which is no longer a constraint in a post-MARC world.
The problems involved in using BF were also touched on at the Continuing Resources Cataloging Forum, in a presentation by Kevin Balster of UCLA. He pointed out that BF 2.0 and the BF Editor are out of synch, and that BF has many unspecified and/or unconstrained domains and ranges, and that it is not yet ready to handle recording serial holdings. So, BIBFRAME still has a ways to go.
Getting back home from Orlando was far more of an adventure than I would have preferred. I was already scheduled for a fairly late flight that left me hanging out at the airport in Orlando for about 5 hours before taking off, and when I landed in Atlanta, I found out that my 11:20 pm flight to Greensboro had been delayed until 6:45 am the following morning. I asked for a flight to either Charlotte or Raleigh, figuring I would rent a car and have to go pick up my bag in Greensboro the next day. But, as luck would have it, I was given a seat on a flight to Raleigh, just one row in front of Chelcie. She lives in Greensboro, so she kindly offered to drive me to drop me off at the airport in Greensboro, where I could pick up my car and drive home (I had Delta deliver my suitcase to my house the next day). That’s cooperation, and the power of Z!