ETL505: Module 3 – RDA

3.5 Fundamentals of RDA

Practical cataloguing definitely looks… practical.  I want to sink my teeth into actually doing some cataloging instead of just reading about it…

I think I am grasping the gist of AACR and RDA and FRBR and FRAD.  But I do feel like I’m reading some of the same information over and over… I want to get more practical!

Later in this module, you will be encouraged to familiarise yourself with RDA and complete some cataloguing exercises.


And then our next “reading” is a course designed to take three hours.  I don’t have time for that today.  I’ll have to come back tomorrow.

Using the RDA Toolkit

Unit 1 Getting Started

Woohoo! This was simple – click on the link in the ETL505 module to get to the CSU Institutional account for the RDA Toolkit, then create my own user account.

Unit 2 Interface and Navigation

Can I start off by saying that this is a really antiquated website?  It’s so old and slow.  It looks like something I would have accessed 20 years ago.  And the instructions in the toolkit aren’t always clear – or certainly aren’t to someone who has no experience cataloguing.  I don’t actually think we are supposed to be working through this whole thing but the module says “It would be helpful for you to read the guide “Using the RDA Toolkit”…

I haven’t worked through all the exercises, but I will review them again if I have trouble finding something when we actually get to the cataloguing part.

Unit 3 Searching

This SAYS it was written in 2012 but it seems to have been written in 1992, when the web was new.  We know how to search – we are librarians!

Unit 4 Personalising the Toolkit

Now we can save searches and bookmark specific sections.

Unit 5 User Contributed Content

This looks to be useful for when you are cataloging for a specific institution- the nuances of how your library wants it done can be recorded here and links can be provided to the RDA toolkit when needed, rather than switching between multiple documents.

Unit 6 Help, Support and Other Services 

Well a good part of this section is out of date as the home page no longer has the links you are told to follow. However, looking at the Beta site gives me hope that this antiquated website will be updated soon.

This video in the module was much more helpful than the booklet and it’s good to know that we can easily access the NLA policies for RDA inline with the text.

Stop! Hammer time! aka Time to get cataloguing

Ok, at first, I was totally confused (well at least partially confused) and was basically just copying the example.  I did 3 or 4 before remembering there are answers at the end of the booklet.  I’m not cheating but I do check the answers after I complete each example so I can see if I’m on the right track.  I’ve completed seven of the twenty seven exercises so far.  I do have questions but once I got the first few done I felt like I was getting the hang of it.


So, I started tidying up the way-too-many open tabs in my browser and came to this video about mindset changes.  The first one, being ok with being the least capable person in the room, really resonated with me (and the second, being ok with failure, but I’ll get to that).  In my professional development as a future librarian I have consistently put myself in positions where I am the least capable person in the room.  About a week into my studies last year I went to GLAMSLAM2018 where I met so many amazing people and learned so much! I was a complete noob and none of the content really touched on school libraries – barely any of it was about libraries at all! But I got involved and later this week I will be attending GLAMSLAM2019.  This willingness to be the least qualified person in the room has lead me to my roles with ALIA SNGG and being on the ALIA National 2020 Conference Program Committee.  Being in a place where I am the least qualified means I have so many people I can learn from!

The second mindset change, being ok with failure, is harder for me. I am someone who has been pretty capable at most things.  I don’t like being bad at things.  A few years ago, hubby and I were eating lunch (or dessert?) in a park and there was a group of twenty-something men riding skateboards and practising jumps and other tricks.  One of these guys in particular was really bad.  He kept falling over or missing the trick he was trying to do.  And I was amazed that he was ok with failing over and over again so publicly.  Because I hate to fail.  But I am learning to step out of my comfort zone.  This summer I joined a hockey team in a social competition, even though I’d never really played hockey before.  After that experience (even though I made so many mistakes and messed up numerous times) I’ve signed up to play in a full field winter hockey competition.  At training, we train with everyone from A/1st grade down to newbies like me.  And it’s been a great experience (barring one small 30 second incident) and I’m mostly ok with failing – and back to the previous paragraph, being the least capable person out there, or close to anyway.

This does connect with cataloguing, I promise.  I want to be good at cataloguing.  But right now, I’m not.  I make mistakes.  Even on this blog, I’ve made mistakes on my FRBR examples.  And I need to be ok with messing up, with making mistakes, with asking for help and for clarification.  If I don’t keep trying, if I don’t ask for help, I’m not going to get any better.

Interval Part Two aka This is why metadata matters

Screenshot of tweet where Ben Aaronovitch is credited with writing a Terry Pratchett book

It might be hard to see in this screenshot of a screenshot but Ben Aaronovitch is credited as author of a Terry Pratchett book in a library system. In a response, Aaronovitch ponders that it might be an edition that he has written an intro to, but the original poster says that it’s not.  The responses

This is why metadata matters.  I’m guessing perhaps the metadata for the wrong edition got imported for this edition and somehow the actual author got dropped off and the first statement of responsibility was Ben Aaronovitch?  Who knows!

Back to Cataloguing

Argh.  Just as I felt like I was getting the hang of it, I got slammed with a much fuller catalogue entry required.  I ended up with more specific RDA references than were required in some places.  I also don’t know if it’s vital that the entries are in numerical order – mine weren’t because I was working with the data as I found it.

These final cataloguing exercises took a lot longer than the rest.  And I didn’t get any of them 100% correct but the further I went on the more I got correct.  Glad to have this done!

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