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An investigation into cataloguers' experiences with RDA.

MacLennan, Alan; Walicka, Agnieszka


Agnieszka Walicka


Cataloguing has been undergoing significant transformation for the last several years in order to keep up with the changing world of digital technologies, dramatically increasing the number of resources to be catalogued and data to be managed in such a way that would satisfy library users’ needs and expectations. Cataloguers had to face a shift in thinking about bibliographic data and consequently a shift in practice to the new cataloguing standard of Resource Description and Access. This research investigated cataloguers’ experiences with using RDA and the current issues they encounter and discuss while RDA is still being reviewed and shaped. It also documented and explored their opinions and concerns regarding understanding of theoretical concepts behind RDA and the new Library Reference Model. The investigation took place in a virtual environment of two of the most popular listservs dedicated to cataloguing and, in this way, allowed a direct and immediate access to opinions expressed by cataloguers around the world. In order to explore their experiences, a qualitative, based on elements of grounded theory, content analysis of archive and most recent posts was conducted and compared with the literature on the research done in the initial period after RDA implementation. The research results indicated some strong divisions among cataloguers and different levels of understanding of the changes being introduced. It also showed a potential paradigm shift in cataloguing, professional knowledge and mental flexibility required of cataloguers. Moreover, the significant amount of learning that cataloguers have had to and will have to undertake in the nearest future, suggests an inordinately important need for adequate training and dialogue between them and the RDA Steering Committee that would be led in a more comprehensible way to enable those who call themselves ‘average cataloguers’ understand the model better and become confident, rather than confused, practitioners.


MACLENNAN, A. and WALICKA, A. 2020. An investigation into cataloguers’ experiences with RDA. Journal of librarianship and information science [online] 52(2), pages 464-475. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 22, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 7, 2019
Publication Date Jun 1, 2020
Deposit Date Dec 14, 2018
Publicly Available Date Dec 14, 2018
Journal Journal of librarianship and information science
Print ISSN 0961-0006
Electronic ISSN 1741-6477
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 52
Issue 2
Pages 464-475
Keywords Cataloguing; Resource description and access; Cataloguers; AACR2; Cataloguing listserv; FRBR; FRBR-LRM; RDA
Public URL


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