The final part of the conference focused on RDA. I think Dr. Tillett is the third member of the JSC I’ve heard speak on RDA. Every time I hear one of them, I’m very encouraged that things are moving in the right direction, albeit haltingly.
RDA is much more principle-based than previous cataloging rules, which should serve us well. Unfortunately, one of the principles seems to be “Don’t scare the library administrators”. It is this that keeps RDA from being the revolutionary change if probably needs to be. By insisting on near-complete backwards compatibility, the JSC seems to be trying to say “Keep cataloging exactly the same way you always have, but here are your new reasons for doing it that way”.
But, as I said, progress is being made. Over time it should become clear which cataloging practices are not based on the principles enshrined in RDA (and, by extension, in FRBR). Perhaps future revisions of RDA will slowly weed these out. The decision to unwed RDA from ISBD and MARC is definitely good news. And there will be fewer instances of disparate pieces of information being combined into one unparsable data element (Hooray, they’re not calling them metadata elements!). This and more should make RDA a very useful content standard for non-MARC cataloging.