This week’s exciting post is submitted by RML Music Cataloger, Anne Lockard. She recently attended the spring meeting of the Northern Ohio Technical Services Librarians organization (NOTSL).
For the last several years the library cataloging world has been a-buzz with the development of a new cataloging standard that will have a major impact on both the daily lives of library catalogers and, eventually, the users of libraries. Called Resource Description and Access (RDA), its design is intended to make library data even more machine-friendly and sharable between databases. This functionality will more easily describe non-print materials, such as those in archives and museums. The buzz has significantly ramped up in the last few months as the Library of Congress led the way in announcing its official adoption of RDA in March 2013. Many libraries are expected to follow suit. Ohio’s own Northern Ohio Technical Services Librarians’ meeting last week was devoted to preparing for the switch.
So, what will this mean for library users and the larger information world? Honestly, it will likely be several years before it is very noticeable. The larger information infrastructure for this is also in its infancy, but eventually it might mean that library catalogs will exist as a larger snapshot of the information universe. One of the most exciting capabilities within RDA is the potential for use of Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) for discreet bits of data. For example, a publisher’s name would have a URI – one spot in the semantic web – to which any other digital instance of that publisher’s name or catalog could be linked. A click on that publisher’s URI in the library catalog would link the user to all those other instances where that publisher’s URI is used, such as other libraries, the publisher’s catalog itself, news media, and so on. URIs will potentially exist for all sorts of data, such as composers/authors, works, instruments, genres, etc. Once all this data is linked, the web of possibility is mammoth. RDA is poised to launch libraries into this exciting, emerging sphere.