Last Spring, Kevin Furniss (Tulane, previously at Denison) asked me to try to figure out “What is going on with RDA?” and to give an address this Fall to the OLAC/MOUG conference trying to give catalogers the straight dope as I saw it.  I basically said that RDA was a dead horse and we could stop beating it. 


I was wrong.  Many of you have either heard me give the talk or later viewed the slides on my web site (several thousand did the latter!); I owe you all an update.  The issue is not RDA versus AACR2. 


Instead of being a dead horse, RDA is rather an omen.  Cataloging and its place in the library universe as we catalogers know it is undergoing a total transformation, with or without catalogers – with or without RDA.


Unfortunately, everyone involved ressembles blind men with the elephant.  I do not claim clarity of vision on this but have been interviewing, consulting, reading, and listening to those at a variety of positions around the pachyderm with the sole aim of trying to figure out what is going on.


As I have said before, I have no horse in this race.  I am not on any of the committees or task forces.  I am blissfully cosseted in the classroom where my prognostications have no organizational, budgetary or staff impact.   But I am a cataloger dyed-in-the-wool and the changes we will undergo are not incremental (RDA is incremental change) but instead  are total upheaval.

This posting and further squibs in which I will try to get closer to a “truth” for catalogers will appear on  So that you don’t need to look for new postings, I will send an AUTOCAT a notice when I have added a component to this attempt at explanation.


Please, please talk to me about all this!  I am trying to piece together an elephant and feel that so far I only have a rather anemic hippo.


Thank you,