Resource Description and Access Adoption and Implementation in Public Libraries in the United States

Roman S. Panchyshyn, Frank P. Lambert, Sevim McCutcheon


This study surveyed the current state of knowledge about, and application or use of, Resource Description and Access (RDA) among American public library catalogers. In 2017, an online survey request was e-mailed to four thousand libraries for the person or persons most responsible for cataloging to complete the questionnaire. More than three hundred libraries responded. The data expose serious concerns with RDA adoption within the public library sector. While a majority of catalogers know about RDA, their working knowledge about it differs substantially depending on whether they work in rural or urban library settings. Regardless, 22 percent of respondants still had not heard of the RDA standard until completing this survey. While further training and educational opportunities (along with funds) for catalogers nationwide would help minimize this disparity, LIS schools also can play a role by educating more thoroughly the next generations of catalogers in this newer descriptive standard. Coming on the brink of a shift in the theoretical framework of the RDA standard, from the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) model to the IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM), public library catalogers risk falling even farther behind in their knowledge and competency with the RDA standard.


Resource Description and Access (RDA); Public Libraries; Cataloging standards; Technical services

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