ALA Publishing is pushing RDA.

First off, ALA Publishing is a publisher not a professional association.  It is a publisher owned by the association.  Although it may be a “not-for-profit” publisher supporting the aims of the membership organization that is its parent, like any publisher it serves two masters: the editorial and the financial. 

For ALA Publishing, cataloging codes are the cash cow.  Think of the ALA publications you know.  How many of them are as ubiquitous as AACR2?  How many of them are purchased by a few thousand MLIS students every year?  How many of them are likely to be purchased by tens if not hundreds of thousands of libraries when a new edition comes out? 

ALA Publishing needs a new cataloging code for the income it produces.  This income serves other good aims, e.g. the ability to publish other works that support the profession at a loss and the ability of the association as a whole to meet its financial obligations.  ALA Publishing needs a new cataloging code.

ALA Publishing not only needs a new cataloging code for the income it produces but also to recoup the ongoing investment they have in the making of the code.  I did not realize until recently who pays the expenses of the Joint Steering Committee:  ALA Publishing.  Changes how I feel about what I have perceived as ALA Publishing’s  heavy handedness in control of access to the electronic AACR2. 

Publishing is a very different world from libraries.  ALA Publishing is a publishing house and they are behaving as a publishing house ought.   Yes, they are a publishing arm of a membership organization but they are a “cost center” of that organization and exercising ownership of AACR2 is important to their fulfilling their mission as the association’s publisher.

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