Resource Description and Access (RDA)

RDA (Resource Description and Access)– a successor to AACR-2 is a new and unified standard for descriptive cataloguing  that provides  a set of instructions and guidelines on formulating bibliographic data representing a resource.

Background: Emerged from the International Conference on the Principles & Future Development of AACR held in Toronto in 1997 and developed by the RDA Steering Committee (formerly the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA) as part of its strategic plan (2005-09) to replace AACR-2, RDA was initially released in June 2010 as an online package under the title RDAToolkit, jointly by the ALA, Canadian Federation of Library Associations and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in the United Kingdom. RDA was widely implemented in 2013 by the Library of Congress, the British Library, and other major libraries.

The primary distinction between RDA and AACR is structural. While AACR-2 was based on ISBD,  RDA is built on FRBR (1998) and FRAD (2009) conceptual models, making it more useful for resource description as a cataloging code for the modern libraries operating in a digital environment. The metadata descriptions created by using the instructions of RDA are well formed according to International standards for user-centered linked data applications that make it compatible with any coding schema including existing records created by following AACR2 rules and other new and emerging database structures. In addition, it provides more scope for cataloging non-printed text resources, non-text resources and unpublished resources.

Replacement of GMD elements in RDA: A major change with RDA was the change from the General Material Designation (GMD) to the content, media, and carrier types (CMCs) provided in MARC 336, 337, and 338 (commonly referred to as 33X) fields. The AACR2 GMD is now replaced by the following three elements in RDA: 

 - Content type (RDA 6.9, an RDA core element for the expression) in new MARC field 336

- Media type (RDA 3.2, an LC core element for the manifestation) in new MARC field 337

- Carrier type (RDA 3.3, an RDA core element for the manifestation) in new MARC field 338

RDA vocabularies for Content, Media, and Carrier type were developed jointly by Joint Steering Committee in conjunction with publishing community (ONIX). 


Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) is a conceptual entity-relationship model developed by IFLA which was first published in print in 1998 by K.G. Saur. FRBR comprises 3 groups of entities:

Group 1 entities are work, expression, manifestation, and item (WEMI). They represent the products of intellectual or artistic endeavor.

Group 2 entities are person, family and corporate body (PFC), responsible for the custodianship of Group 1’s intellectual or artistic endeavor.

Group 3 entities are subjects of Group 1 or Group 2’s intellectual endeavor, and include concepts, objects, events, places.

Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) developed and approved by IFLA in 2009 is also a conceptual entity-relationship model which helps in facilitating and sharing data by relating the library authority records to the needs of the users of those records.

The organization of RDA is distinct from AACR2 as instead of providing separate chapters for classes of materials such as books, cartographic materials, sound recordings, etc., RDA designate certain elements as ‘core’ rather than designating all elements as either ‘required’ or ‘optional’. RDA is principle-based and organized around the FRBR/FRAD tasks to help users ‘identify’ and ‘relate’ the resources they need from the collections. RDA elements and relationships have been mapped to the value assigned to FRBR attributes and relationships which is defined under the introduction in RDA (0.6: RDA Elements).

FRBR/FRAD User Tasks

FRBR four user tasks are: Find, Identify, Select and Obtain.

The four user tasks identified under FRAD are: Find, Identify, Contextualize, and Justify.

RDA Steering Committee responsible for the maintenance of RDA is composed of representatives from 7 cataloguing communities: ALA, British Library, Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, Australian Committee on Cataloguing, CILIP, Deutsche National bibliothek, and the Library of Congress.

RDA instructions and guidelines are available through RDA Toolkit, an online subscription site, and also in print copies for offline sale.   RDA Toolkit website is produced by the ALA, Canadian Federation of Library Associations, and CILIP and print versions are also made available by the RDA Co-Publishers—American Library Association, Canadian Library Association, and Facet Publishing, the publishing arm of CILIP.

What is LC-PCC PS?

LC-PCC-PS stands for ‘Library of Congress-Program for Cooperative Cataloging Policy Statements’ which came into existence with the collaboration of LC (Library of Congress) and PCC (Program for Cooperative Cataloguing) deciding to adopt a single set of policy statements in October 2012. They have created this extensive body of Library of Congress Policy Statements (LCPS) to facilitate a standard interpretation and application of alternatives, options and exceptions to RDA instructions and guidelines. Current Library of Congress-Program for Cooperative Cataloging Policy Statements (LC-PCC PSs) are freely available as part of the RDA Toolkit. 

The text of RDA consists of 10 sections divided into 37 chapters, with 13 appendices, a glossary, and an index. The 10 sections of RDA are as follows:

  • Section 1: Recording Attributes of Manifestation & Item;
  • Section 2: Recording Attributes of Work & Expression;
  • Section 3: Recording Attributes of Person, Family, & Corporate Body;
  • Section 4: Recording Attributes of Concept, Object, Event & Place;
  • Section 5: Recording Primary Relationships between Work, Expression, Manifestation, & Item;
  • Section 6: Recording Relationships to Persons, Families, & Corporate Bodies;
  • Section 7: Recording Relationships to Concepts, Objects, Events, & Places;
  • Section 8: Recording Relationships between Works, Expressions, Manifestations, & Items;
  • Section 9: Recording Relationships between Persons, Families, & Corporate Bodies;
  • Section 10: Recording Relationships between Concepts, Objects, Events, & Places


1.Resource Description and Access (RDA) is divided into how many sections?

Answer: (B)

2. The primary distinction between RDA and AACR is __.

Answer: (A)

3. Select the correct ‘FOUR USER TASKS’ with authority data as defined by the FRANAR working group (FRAD-6):

Answer: (A)

4. Both FRBR Study Group and FRANAR working Group have defined four user tasks each, in which two user tasks are common. Identify the common user tasks from the following :

Answe: (A)

5. RDA print version is published by __.

Answe: (D)

6. FRAD stand for __.

Answe: (B)

7. LC-PCC-PS stands for __.

Answe: (C)

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