Monday, March 31, 2014

Major RDA Update Scheduled for April 22

The RDA Toolkit is scheduled for a major update on April 22, 2014. This update is the culmination of months of discussion  and consideration by the Joint Steering Committee and other members of the library community. For law catalogers, a highlight of the update is the long-awaited changes to the instructions having to do with treaties. Initiated by AALL member John Hostage, and shepherded through the approval process by Kathy Glennan (ALA representative to the JSC), these are major changes that assure that pretty much every heading for a treaty created under AACR2 will have to be changed. The official JSC document that specifies the changes is available at :; it was updated on March 24, 2014. At the very least, treaties for which the authorized access point is already the official title of the treaty, qualified by year, will have to be qualified by not just a year, but also a month and day (per, for example:

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ǂd (1982 December 10).

Treaties that in the past have been entered under the name of a government will undergo more radical changes. For example, this well-known treaty:

Canada. ǂt Treaties, etc. ǂd 1992 October 7
North American Free Trade Agreement ǂd (1992 October 7)

A new instruction,, tells us how to record participants in a treaty, and is complemented by a new relationship designator in appendix I.2.2, "participant in a treaty." The conventional collective title "Treaties, etc." will no longer be used as part of the preferred title for a treaty or for a compilation of treaties.

The update will include many other changes as well, some of them pertaining to specialized areas of cataloging such as music, while others have broad applicability. An example of the latter type of change is the elimination of the relationship designator "editor of compilation." This relationship designator will be dropped in favor of the single term "editor."

Mark Ehlert of Minitex has compiled a very useful summary of the major changes that are included the April update, available at: He cites to the JSC source documents pertaining to the changes and provides MARC examples to further facilitate understanding. The summary includes a link to a Google spreadsheet compiled by Ehlert listing new and revised relationship designators.

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