OCLC RDA Policy Statement

Effective 31 March 2013

OCLC member libraries may contribute new unique records to WorldCat formulated according to any cataloging code they are currently using. OCLC will not require libraries to use RDA. Libraries may switch to RDA for original cataloging on their own timetable, if they chose to switch at all. Libraries may continue to contribute records to WorldCat formulated according to AACR2 if they wish to do so.

WorldCat continues to be a master record database. This means one master record present in WorldCat per manifestation per language of cataloging. Duplicate records are contrary to WorldCat policy and hinder the work of the cooperative. Separate records for the same manifestation entered for different cataloging codes are not allowed.

The policies and planned manipulation of legacy records in WorldCat laid out below are intended to position WorldCat for an optimum transition to a post-MARC metadata structure in the future. They also attempt to balance the dual roles of WorldCat as a catalog and as a repository of bibliographic data.

This policy statement grew out of a discussion paper, Incorporating RDA Practices into WorldCat, and the many comments received from member libraries in response to that paper. OCLC staff are grateful for those comments. OCLC also acknowledges the work of a number of task groups of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, whose discussions of RDA practices have also influenced this policy statement.

Original Cataloging

When adding a new record unique to WorldCat, the records may be coded for RDA (Desc: i or c, 040 e rda), AACR2 (Desc: a), or any other recognized cataloging code. When creating a new record with English as the language of cataloging, consult the LC/NACO Authority File and use forms of access points found there, regardless of whether they are coded for RDA. The NACO file will continue to be the source of authorized name and title access points for all records cataloged in English in WorldCat. Please control all controllable headings to facilitate updating of headings as authority records are updated to conform to RDA.

Order of 040 subfields

The preferred order of 040 subfields is: a, b, e, c, d. This moves the key identifiers of language of cataloging (b) and cataloging code (e) closer to the beginning of the 040 string as a consistent place for easy identification by other catalogers.

Copy Cataloging

Libraries may choose to use existing records as is or locally edit them as needed. Catalogers are not required to upgrade master records to change them from non-RDA codes to RDA. Do not change RDA master records to conform to an earlier cataloging code.

Upgrading/Enhancing Existing Records

When using a record for copy cataloging, catalogers have the option, of enhancing or upgrading that record. Catalogers have always been allowed to "upgrade" pre-AACR2 master records to AACR2. Beginning March 31, 2013, catalogers may change/upgrade master records cataloged according to a non-RDA code to RDA. Do this only with the "piece in hand" in order that all necessary information will be available. When re-cataloging to RDA, the entire record must be examined and adjusted as needed before re-coding the record as RDA.

Catalogers may continue to enrich existing records with addition of fields such as call numbers, contents and summary notes, subject headings, etc. without adjusting coding of the record to RDA. Do not change an RDA master record to conform to an earlier cataloging code.

For more information on editing records please see Connexion documentation:

  • Connexion client, under Section 3, "Replace master bibliographic records"
  • Connexion browser, under Section 1, "Record actions summary"

Hybrid Records

When editing and replacing master records in WorldCat, catalogers may choose to add some RDA elements to existing non-RDA records without re-cataloging the entire record according to RDA. Candidates for such editing include, but are not limited to:

  • Adding relator terms to access points
  • Spelling out non-transcribed abbreviations
  • Adding complete statements of responsibility in 245 (in place of "[et al.]")
  • Adding 336/337/338 fields

When adding or editing one or more such elements in the master record without re-cataloging the record to RDA, do not code the record as RDA. OCLC will generally adhere to the PCC Guidelines on Hybrid Bibliographic Records and expects member libraries editing existing records to add selected RDA elements to follow these guidelines.

General Material Designators (GMDs)

As recommended in the PCC Guidelines on Hybrid Bibliographic Records, OCLC will retain the 245 h GMD for a period of 3 years in WorldCat records where it currently exists. Catalogers editing existing non-RDA records are asked to leave formerly valid GMDs present in records through 31 March 2016. However, do remove the GMD when re-cataloging (and re-coding) a record as RDA.

Punctuation and Capitalization

Catalogers may enter data in RDA records with or without ISBD punctuation. Use code "c" in "Desc:" (Leader/18) when ISBD punctuation has been omitted. Use code "i" in "Desc:" when ISBD punctuation has been included. Headings should be entered with punctuation in all cases. If ISBD punctuation has been omitted, feel free to add ISBD punctuation to the entire master record and update "Desc:" to code "i." However, do not remove ISBD punctuation from master records (except when making local edits).

Catalogers may enter data per the capitalization instructions in RDA Appendix A or per the alternative instruction in RDA Appendix A.1 and the related LC-PCC PS. Capitalization input in accord with RDA Appendix A is preferred in WorldCat. If data has been entered in a record per the alternative instruction (e.g., all uppercase letters or with first letters of each word capitalized), feel free to change it in accord with RDA Appendix A. However, do not change capitalization in master records to conform to the alternative instruction (except when making local edits).

Parallel Records

Allowance for parallel records for different languages of cataloging continues as a policy within WorldCat. See Parallel Records for Language of Cataloging. Only one master record per language of cataloging per manifestation is permitted by policy within WorldCat. Multiple separate records for different cataloging codes are not allowed by policy. Feel free to report duplicate records not in accordance with these policies to bibchange@oclc.org.

RDA Training

Please refer to the "RDA resources" section on About RDA for links to training from the Library of Congress, ALCTS, the OCLC training portal and others.

Machine Manipulation of Existing WorldCat Records

OCLC will begin changing existing WorldCat legacy records after 31 March 2013 to incorporate various useful RDA practices. Legacy records (non-RDA records) need to be made as functional as possible in the future RDA environment to benefit catalogers, systems, and catalog end users. As a post-MARC future becomes a reality in years to come, greater consistency of practice present in existing WorldCat records will allow easier migration to another metadata format.

OCLC will initially focus changes on English language of cataloging records. Records for other languages of cataloging will likely be changed similarly at a future date as appropriate. Some records representing materials for which RDA practices have not been finalized—including, for example, records created according to Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (DCRM) and its predecessors and Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)—will be excluded from processing. OCLC will announce changes in some detail as they are made via the OCLC-CAT list and on an OCLC web page (link for that page will be added to this paper when the list is begun).

Anticipated changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Adding 336, 337, 338 fields
  • Spelling out non-transcribed abbreviations in 255, 300, 500, 504 and other fields
  • Converting Latin abbreviations to English equivalents in 245, 260, and other fields
  • Converting dissertation notes in 502 field to multiple subfields
  • Removing GMDs (after 31 March 2016)
  • Heading changes in accordance with RDA

Heading changes are anticipated to spell out abbreviations in headings like "Dept." and to change Bible and Koran headings in accordance with RDA practice.

More information on heading changes may be found in the PCC Task Group on AACR2 & RDA Acceptable Heading Categories Final Report, August 2011.

OCLC also continues the controlling headings project.

Questions are welcome

Questions regarding this policy may be sent to rdapolicy@oclc.org.

Please remember that these policies and planned manipulation of legacy records in WorldCat are intended to position WorldCat for an optimum transition to a post-MARC metadata structure in the future.

For more information please see OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards Ch. 5 and OCLC Authorities: Format and Indexes.

2 January 2013