The key points learnt regarding resource description are:

·         It is a general process that describes any resource or item regardless of medium

·         It enables users to locate and retrieve an item easily – a functional requirement

·         It is based on a cataloguing code of standards

With reference to Resource Description and access:

·         It is a new philosophy with new cataloguing rules, new terminology and new relationships between entities (Stone, August 26, 2013). 

·         Some of the present fields for information in cataloguing codes such as the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR2) will still be used but in a different way. 

·         There will be new fields for existing data as well. 

·         Cataloguer’s judgement is given a wider scope for alternatives and optional additions but the way information is inputted must be very consistent. 

·         Each creation of an item/document/material is a separate manifestation.  For example, if it is in a different format such as a book compared to a DVD of the same title or a different year of publication, these are different and separate records.

Reflections upon key factors to consider when structuring a bibliographic resource description

·         It must suit the user group for whom it has been constructed, for example there are three levels:

o   a simple catalogue user with virtually no search experience needs an uncomplicated description

o   Middle ground user who needs a more detailed description on say, scholarly research articles.

o   Highest level who needs specialised research material for a highly expert search

·         Content description must be consistent, accurate and to one standard only.

·         Author, title, subject etc must be in hierarchical order.

Standards I will use for bibliographic resource description?

Dublin Core – DCMI – will be the standard I use for my database. 

What are the advantages of RDA over ACCR2?

AACR2 describes how to record details of a document or material and is basically set up to record print material so is outdated when the coding for print material is applied to digital media and web-based resources (Miller, 2011, p. 217).   Inconsistencies also arise when a resource falls between two formats so could be coded under two different categories (in AACR2’s chapter on how to categorise).  For example a map could be categorised as both an electronic and a physical resource but yet provide the same information.  On the other hand, because RDA incorporates FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), it collocates different versions and editions of the same work so that the user can find and compare these more easily (Zabel & Miller, 2011, p. 218). 

When articles or books have more than three authors, AACR2 only provides an access point to the first author and that author has the ‘statement of responsibility’ with no acknowledgement for the other authors.  On the other hand, RDA provides access points for every author of an article and does not follow the ‘rule of three’ (Zabel & Miller, 2011, p. 219). 

RDA eliminates Latin terms which AACR2 still use.  In RDA all phrases are in the language of the catalogue record and the full phrase is used to describe a document without a  publisher, for example, ‘[publisher not identified]’ and this information is provided by the cataloguer if details are not given on the document.   

With AACR2, for each entity a different standard needs to be consulted, for example Library of Congress Classification (LCC) standard for the assignment of a class number to collect it (like the Dewey system) and a different standard, the Library of Congress Subject Headings for assignment of subject terms.  A standard digital format also needs to be used, Machine Readable Cataloguing (MARC) to encode the information selected to include in the record (Miller, 2011).  The recorded information then becomes part of the library’s ‘Integrated Library System’ (ILS) which determines how this above information will be accessed and retrieved in the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). It is a long process.

On the other hand, Resource Description and Access (RDA) catalogue coding framework or standard describes ‘what’ to record, not ‘how’ to record as with AACR2.  It is made simple for users outside the library community as its ten separate elements are based on user tasks (Stone, August 26, 2013).  It is independent of encoding schemas (Stone, August 26, 2013) but has to be able to work within the present standards so its data is adaptable and sharable unlike AACR2 .  For example it has been built to work within a library’s present system so has been designed as an online product (Stone, August 26, 2013).   However it still keeps to the FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) and FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data), so is familiar to library staff. 

RDA is also a universal cataloguing code that can be used in any language which makes it far easier to access and retrieve material from any database or library in the world, assuming they have adopted RDA.  When inputting data details, abbreviations are no longer used so all terms have to be spelt out in full eg instead of ‘ill.’ for illustration, the full word would need to be used eg ‘illustration’.  Although this is time consuming it makes retrieval far easier for a non-professional library user.  Therefore it is far more advantageous to convert to RDA than continue with AACR2. 

What does the move to RDA over AACR2 mean in evolution of information organisation?

Information will be more easily accessible by users who do not have library skills.  Different manifestations of the same material will be easier to find, locate and navigate.  Material will also be more accessible worldwide as there will be no language barriers. 


Zabel, D. & Miller, L. (2011). Resource description and access (RDA): An introduction for reference librarians. Reference and User Services       Quarterly, 50(3), 216-222. Retrieved from:

 Stone, K. (August 26, 2013).  Resource Description and Access.  [Power Point].  State Library of Queensland.