Jamaica’s library network will soon boast a new international digital cataloguing system, which will help persons doing research or requesting information from library archives.
The system, called the Resource Description and Access(RDA), is the new international cataloguing standard, designed for the digital environment.
It is intended to replace the current Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2), and is being developed primarily for use in libraries. It should be implemented before the end of the year.
In the meantime, consultations with archives, museums, publishers, educators, and book vendors are to be undertaken about the new system.
A seminar is to be hosted on April 16 at the Medallion Hall Hotel on Hope Road, to create a national awareness of the imminent introduction and implementation of the RDA. The seminar will also attempt to educate and inform all members of the Jamaica Library and Information Network (JAMLIN) community about RDA.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on April 11, President of the Library and Information Association of Jamaica and Librarian at the Jamaica Tourist Board, Matthew Blake, stated that switching to RDA is a sensible move, especially in this digital age and one that would improve efficiencies.
“Globally, it is being implemented in countries with which we must share information and if we are to share, then we must be using the same system,” he said.
According to Mr. Blake, RDA has a broader scope than AACR2, as it supports the production of well formed data that can be managed using both current technologies and newly emerging database structures and technologies of the future.
The RDA will also provide rules and guidelines to facilitate the description and access of all digital and analogue material, resulting in records that can be used in a variety of digital environments.
Mr. Blake explained that the transition from the current Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules to RDA is an international requirement; therefore its introduction to local libraries will change the nature of cataloguing currently used as well as the nature of bibliographic data.
Also speaking at the ‘Think Tank’ was Cataloguer at the National Library of Jamaica, Maxine Jones, who highlighted the need for the development and implementation of a National Bibliographical database, which would facilitate access to the information within the various libraries islandwide.
“Key to this is the development and promotion of standards for the operation of libraries and the delivery of information. Therefore, we have to ensure that the records we collect are of a certain standard hence the development of a cataloguing tool. With the explosion of digital resources, AACR2 cannot accommodate the description of these records, hence the importance of RDA,” she said.
For her part, Librarian/Documentalist with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Viviene Kerr-Williams, said the agency recognized the importance of the upcoming seminar, and pointed out that it fulfilled goals one and three of Vision 2030.
Vision 2030 Jamaica is the country’s first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling Jamaica to achieve developed country status by 2030. It is based on a comprehensive vision: “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.”
“The RDA provides a comprehensive set of guidelines and instructions in formulating data to support resource description for all kinds of content and data in whatever media they are found. That is a great game changer that demands that all librarians be equipped to make the transition,” Mrs. Kerr-Williams said.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson