RDA in the OPAC – some examples

March 31st has come and gone. RDA records are flooding into our OPACS.  What difference do these records make to our users?

Back in 2011 I worked on a project comparing AACR2 and RDA music records.  My goal was to determine how RDA would fulfill the FRBR user tasks (to find, identify, select, and obtain) in a traditional OPAC environment.  My conclusion was that without “FRBR-ized” systems these records would have little impact on discovery.

Now that RDA has arrived, I was curious to see how music records (scores and sound recordings) are being displayed in OPACs.  Here are some RDA records I looked at:

1)  Mozart vocal score – OCLC #835097509

 Texas State San Marcos – Millennium ILS  

2)  Mozart aria fragments (score) – OCLC #823230461

This is what I noticed:

  • Some systems index creator names with their RDA relator codes (composer, performer, transcriber, arranger, etc.). For example, an author search for “Stanley Sadie, arranger of music” will return only works Sadie arranged, not those he edited.  This allows users to “find” and “identify” with greater accuracy.  However, I did not find any systems able to limit by role. 
  • Some systems are linking related works: “based on,” “contains,” and “supplement to” related works are discoverable from the related record.  But again, I found no systems that allow searches for all works based on a given work. 
  • Most of the OPACs I looked at were suppressing the 3XX format fields in the public display. Others (mine included – I admit it) are bringing them them in with no formatting – so words like “unmediated rdamedia” are displayed.  Wasn’t RDA supposed to be more, not less readable? 

While relator codes and related works have improved the “find” and “identify” user tasks, my conclusion remains the same: without significant development of library systems, as well a shift to an encoding standard that supports linked data (BIBFRAME), RDA has little impact on discovery.  It is a good start, but it is  just the beginning.

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