RDA Changes in Theory and Practice
Music Library Association Annual Meeting
Thursday March 2, 2023
Summary by Janice Bunker, Brigham Young University
Program slides are available via Humanities Commons, “RDA Changes in Theory and Practice”
The session began with presentations by Kathy Glennan and Damian Iseminger on Representative Expressions, Aggregates and Nomens, oh my! Some wording in this section is taken directly from Kathy’s and Damian’s slides.
The concept of Representative Expressions (RE hereafter) was created to resolve conflicts in earlier models of the IFLA Functional Requirements, although music catalogers have long applied it in cases such as scores which are in a different key than the original and operas sung in a different language than the original. In a nutshell, an RE is an expression that best represents the Work. The RE attribute is not tied to one particular expression, and the attributes considered to be closest to the original concept of the work do not have to come from the first manifestation of that work. An analysis revealed that more FRBR attributes belonged at the expression level than previously thought, and so 18 elements have been adapted in the Official RDA Toolkit.
To help with our understanding of Aggregates, a guidance chapter has been created which explains the model and how to relate manifestations, expressions, and works to one another. It clarifies the difference between an aggregate which is a manifestation containing many different expressions, and an aggregate which is a plan to collect different expressions to make an aggregate publication. There have also been some updates to agent elements that relate to aggregates, such as aggregator agent which can be used to relate the aggregate plan to a person or body, and contributor agent to aggregate which is a shortcut that relates an aggregate (the manifestation containing different expressions) to an agent who created an expression that is contained therein. Another example is a shortcut that equates creator of work with creator agent of expression, meaning that a creator of a work that is realized by an expression is also a creator of that expression. And lastly, RE elements may be used to link the aggregating work to attributes associated with the aggregated expressions contained therein.
Other updates have occurred with Nomens, Appellation Elements and String Encoding Schemes. A nomen can be considered the association between an entity and a designation that refers to that entity. In addition, nomens can be entities themselves; they can have attributes like script, context of use, status (provisional, etc.), an assigning agent, and a date of assigning. Nomens can have their own relationships. Appellations had to be revised as well, and is now a relationship element. When recording values of appellations, there are two choices: 1) record it as a value of a nomen string; or 2) record it as an instance of a nomen. In most cases, option 1 will suffice.
In the new (Official) RDA, most elements and attributes will be recorded either as unstructured or structured data. Recording unstructured data means the cataloger records it as it is found on the resource with no modifications. This is the same as “take what you see.” Recording structured data means a cataloger records it in a manipulated format or uses a vocabulary encoding schema to create strings. This is the same as “modify what you see for your system requirements.” The national authority file is an example of an encoding scheme: a set of values and a set of rules that provide mapping between sets of strings and values of elements. String encoding schemes are dependent on the community who is using them; therefore, Official RDA contains string encoding scheme instructions with general applicability, and has made space for specific string encoding scheme instructions in the Community Resources section. Instructions about naming musical, legal, official, and religious works and expressions are considered to be community schemes and have been moved to the community resource area.
To sum up (this is almost word-for-word from Damian’s slide), having nomens as entities required a wholesale restructuring of the appellation elements into relationship elements. Instructions for choosing and recording names have been aligned with the RDA recording methods. Access point instructions have been generalized so as to provide a general String Encoding Scheme structure: Select the base, Format the base, and Add to the base. Elements in Original RDA for specific kinds of works and expressions have been moved to the Community Resources section. And community implementation of Official RDA will determine how entities are named (for example, LC-PCC Policy Statements and MLA Best Practices).
Next, Keith Knop gave a presentation on MLA best practices, guidance documentation, and navigation for Official RDA. Some wording in this section is taken directly from Keith’s slides. First, he discussed MARC field 387, which is now defined in both Bibliographic and Authority formats for Representative Expression elements except key, and medium of performance of musical and choreographic content. At the present time, MLA guidance is leaning toward reserving field 387 for the authority format. In addition to field 387, field 384 and 382 now have indicators defined for the key of the RE and medium of performance of musical content of RE.
The new structure of the Official RDA toolkit means there is no longer an obvious place to start. In addition, what used to be “Core” elements have been stripped down to the bare-bones minimum. Luckily, the original RDA instruction numbers are hidden in the background when they correspond to the new instructions; these are searchable, as are the MARC fields in the Element Reference boxes. Another plus is that most element names remain the same. MLA has created some metadata guidance documents, which include relevant elements roughly organized by ISBD descriptive area, and an MLA draft application profile, which includes several worksheets for both general elements and those specific to a particular resource type. These guidance documents also point to relevant locations on some topics.
A new development is the PCC’s relationship label vocabulary, available on the RDA metadata guidance page. For example, the label composer, with which music catalogers are very familiar, now stands for composer person/family/corporate body of work. For the most part, this results in no change of relationship designators. One exception is the former container of (work) and container of (expression), which will become expression manifested (as in analytic authorized access points) or part (as in legitimate whole/part relationships). In addition, the parentheticals (work) or (expression) are no longer included in any designator, and any manifestation relationship designators appear only in metadata guidance documents. For example, expression manifested appears in the guidance document for Aggregates. Another change is the Based on relationships: based on (work) will be renamed source work, and based on (expression) will be renamed source expression.
Another new PCC policy is that access points for things-being-manifested should refer to expressions rather than works. PCC catalogers may also use the work access point to represent any expression in the original language. MLA’s guidance document recommends using the work authorized access point as the expression authorized access point in cases where the expression manifested is the same language, key, and medium of performance. In addition, catalogers are discouraged from considering content type when making a decision. And the combined 1XX and 2XX imply the relationship expression manifested, and a 7XX explicitly gives that relationship.
The distinction between creators and contributors has shrunk in Official RDA. Former creators are now styled creators of works and the former contributors are now creators of expressions. But because authorized access points still generally need to describe creators of works, MLA consulted with the PCC and gained exceptions for cases in which aggregates with a common creator of expression also 1) exclude art music; 2) highlight a specific performer; and 3) have expressions as the main point of interest for users. There is a nice decision tree in the MLA guidance documents under Aggregates > Authorized Access Points for Aggregating Works and Expressions.
Keith also shared links to other presentations he has done about these topics. Please see the slides for links to the Roundtable on Policy Statements, the workshop Using the New RDA Toolkit to Catalog Music, and Aggregates for the Practical Cataloger.
In response to a question, Kathy mentioned that PCC is planning to put legacy instructions into Metadata Guidance documents which will be freely available on the PCC website.