Vendor Interview -- VTLS

This is the second of our series of vendor interviews. In April we surveyed RDA Toolkit users, asking which vendors they would like us to talk to regarding RDA and what sort of questions we should ask. The interview questions are derived from those posed by users. Our intention with this exercise is to both address concerns that our users have about how cataloging with RDA will actually work and to establish an avenue of communication between vendors and our users.

This week we spoke with VTLS, creators of the Virtua ILS and RDA Sandbox. The responses to our questions were supplied by John Espley, Principal Librarian.

Question 1: Is your cataloging system current with MARC 21 updates 9, 10, and 11, which made changes to MARC to accommodate RDA? If not, do you plan to update, and do you have a timeline for updating? Have you made the changes for both bibliographic and authority records?

JE: Yes, it is currently updated with the MARC 21 updates, especially in regards to RDA.

Question 2: Are your system's displays (public facing and admin) capable of displaying the new RDA fields added to MARC? Are any future changes planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

JE: Yes, users can update the displays using the new RDA fields.

Question 3: Please describe your system's search interface (including its indexing, filtering, and faceting functions), and how it handles the new RDA fields. Are any future changes planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

JE: Users can add the new MARC 21 tags and subfields to the keyword indexing system which will also allow them to use BOOLEAN operators like AND, OR, and NOT.

Question 4: Does your system support cataloging in encodings other than MARC? If so, have you made any changes to these encodings in order to support RDA? Are any future changes planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

JE: Currently, Virtua is MARC (MARC 21, UNIMARC, CATMARC) based only. Our digital repository system, Vital, does use other encodings such as Dublin Core, MARCXML, EAD, etc. The Vital system is so flexible that changes are not needed to accommodate RDA.

Question 5: Libraries are likely to be in a mixed records environment for some time. Do you have any plans to discontinue support to AACR2 records in the foreseeable future?

JE: No, we do not have any plans to discontinue support for AACR2 records.

Question 6: Do you have any display, search, or other concerns about using your system in a mixed record environment where AACR2 and RDA records are co-mingled in the catalog?

JE: Yes, we have some concerns, especially about the discontinuing of the GMD, subfield h, in title fields.

Question 7: RDA has an increased focus on record-to-record relationships based on FRBR and adopted the Work-Expression-Manifestation-Item structure. Does your system currently take advantage of this new data and structure to improve the user experience in any way? Are any future user experience improvements based on this data planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

JE: Yes, Virtua has a FRBR/RDA Implementation Scenario One system that takes full advantage of the WEMI structure.

Question 8: Some have said that the benefits of RDA cannot be fully realized while MARC remains the dominant encoding standard. If RDA is adopted, how viable do you think MARC will be going forward? What sort of issues would a move away from MARC raise for your product(s)?

JE: While MARC has its problems, we have implemented a FRBR/RDA Implementation Scenario One system using MARC records. MARC is not dead, but it is on "its last legs." What is needed is a Metadata Management System which would allow a system to accommodate any standard metadata scheme. We are developing such a system now (but I don't have a timeframe to share).