The State Library of Pennsylvania can trace its origins to a 1745 action by the legislature of the colony of Pennsylvania. The cataloging of three professionals and one paraprofessional does both original and copy cataloging and creates authority records. The three staff professionals participated in the test. The staff uses the Voyager ILS from Ex Libris. The State Library has continued to catalog in RDA, though they have relied on AACR2 for copy cataloging. Thomas Duszak, head of collections/cataloging, answered our questions.
Question #1: Has your institution continued RDA cataloging after the test? What issues specific to your institutional structure and culture most informed your decision? What functional aspects of RDA cataloging versus AACR2 cataloging most informed your decision?
TD: Yes, we are still cataloging in RDA. The State Library is small and in a position to be a pacesetter in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The ability to qualify and encode information is a plus. Relator codes, for example, are advantageous. Spelling out formerly abbreviated words will help library users understand bibliographic records. Separate and detailed encoding in authority access points is also a priority.
Question #2: With any significant change, there is debate and disagreement about the supposed benefits of changing or not changing. What, from a business/economic perspective, do you see as the benefits and costs of your institution’s decision to continue or cease RDA cataloging?
TD: We are already trained and have been in the process of training ourselves and others during the last 15 months. We were not thwarted by the newness of RDA. We jumped into the water.
Question #3: As stated above, change typically inspires disagreement and sometimes resistance. Did your staff respond positively or negatively to RDA testing? How did you address disagreement about RDA among staff members?
TD: We entered willingly and in unison. There was no ensconced resistance, disparagement, or disagreement.
Question #4: Do you feel you were adequately familiar with the FRBR model to happily navigate the RDA instructions, and did you reach a point of clarity and comfort with the structure of RDA by the end of the test? Do you think that a longer test period would have smoothed out issues related to the lack of familiarity with FRBR concepts?
TD: Yes, we felt our preparation in regard to FRBR went well. No, all things considered, the national libraries did an admirable job of drafting the plan for the test.
Question #5: Were there specific bibliographic formats that proved particularly difficult or easy to catalog in RDA?
TD: In general, the State Library focused on the formats for monographs. One of the catalogers, Bill Fee, was perplexed by serial records requirements. He has given his approval to contact him directly. firstname.lastname@example.org. Please address your experiences, if any, in cataloging specialty items in RDA.
Question #6: Reflecting on your experience as a tester what recommendations would you give to those formulating a plan for RDA implementation? Which training materials and resources were most beneficial? Was there value to bringing in outside training experts? What approaches to acclimating staff to RDA Toolkit worked best?
TD: Do not fear change. Do not be perplexed the new rules. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Just start. The process will unravel itself. Learn as you go. Train the trainer, a resource on the Library of Congress website, was very helpful. The State Library was not able to finance sessions with outside experts. We are self-taught. We talked about it, and we just did it. Learn as you go. Sign up for webinars. Read listservs. Read the code.