RDA in Denmark

In Denmark the Danish Agency for Culture takes the final decisions regarding which cataloguing rules should be applied in the Danish library community. It also governs many other aspects of the Danish library world, apart from the bibliographic one. To assist the Agency in bibliographic matters, the Agency has a Bibliographic Advisory Board that gives professional assessments on certain issues before a decision is taken.

At the meeting with the Bibliographic Advisory Board on the 16th of July 2011 it was decided to found a working group that would look into the question what a move to the new cataloguing code RDA, Resource Description and Access, would mean for Denmark. The working group worked through the year 2012 and presented its conclusions on the 28th of September 2012. The group made thorough analyses of i.a:

  • consequences for descriptive cataloguing;
  • consequences for the danMARC2 format;
  • multivolume cataloguing which is used to its full extent in Denmark;
  • authority records on names and titles and the question of how RDA’s authorized access points would behave as compared to the Danish traditional way of ordering library materials;
  • preferred titles for collections of works of one author (up until now not used in Denmark);
  • consequences for the cataloguing of serials;
  • numbering and dating of works which differ between RDA and the Danish cataloguing rules;
  • the new way of designating materials.

The group came up with eight different scenarios for the future of cataloguing in Denmark with or without RDA. The scenarios stretched from keeping the Danish cataloguing rules and format exactly the way they are, into implementing RDA in total with a complete translation into Danish. The group concluded that neither ignoring RDA, nor taking it 100 % ‘as it is’ would be a feasible measure.

RDA English version with Danish profile

The way to move onward would have to be somewhere in between these options and at a meeting in September 2012 the Council concluded that they would recommend a move to RDA mainly in its English version, but with a Danish profile and terminology etc. translated into Danish. The group also recommended keeping the danMARC2 format for the time being, at least until the results of the BIBFRAME initiative are better known. A group working on the reuse of RDA records within the present cataloguing rules was also formed. It might be some time before RDA is implemented in Denmark, and during that time we should still be able to make use of RDA records made by others.

Apart from the above there is also one specific working group on RDA in music. During 2013 there was a short break in the Danish work with RDA, but in 2014 the working groups resumed their work. What is left to be done now is writing up a formal document for decision-making to be presented to the Board of the Danish Agency for Culture. That document is being worked at presently within the Bibliographic Advisory Board and its working groups, and the goal is to have it ready by the end of the year, with a possibility for a decision no later than January 2016.

Challenges in Denmark

RDA builds on a foundation of the FRBR and FRAD models, and the way these look upon the bibliographic universe differs somewhat from the way present Danish cataloguing rules work. They build more upon the description of manifestations than on the creation of entities and the relationships between them. The Danish rules also have quite a few influences from the old German/Prussian rules that up until now have been predominant in many parts of northern Europe.

However, a step in an RDA direction has already been taken within the Danish union catalog www.bibliotek.dk, where the FRBR way of thinking has been used for several years now, with a socalled “FRBR on the fly”, where a specific ‘work view’ has been introduced, or actually a work view on several levels.

Introduction of authority control 

In Denmark authority control in the form of authority records for names, institutions and works/titles have up until recently only been used at a limited level, even though authority control, to some extent, has been used by way of index control etc.

A specific working group on a national strategy on authority control was founded in 2012 with the aim to look into the consequences of introducing authority control at a larger scale in Denmark with a specific national authority data repository. That working group will have finished its recommendations by the end of 2015.

The Danish Library Center (DBC) has in recent years produced authority records for the publications they have catalogued for the Danish National Bibliography, but only at a limited scale. Those authority records are now also included in VIAF, the Virtual International Authority File.

Using the danMARC2 format together with RDA will be possible, but with similar problems as experienced in MARC 21. In order to continue using the format, some changes need to be made to it, some of which have already been introduced during 2013-14. In the long run a more web friendly format will be needed, however. Maybe BIBFRAME will provide the possibilities wanted? We are watching the development closely and a specific working group has also been founded for that.

Challenges in understanding the toolkit 

RDA is made available through the RDA toolkit. It can be subscribed to through ALA Publishers. The way the toolkit is set up sometimes creates difficulties for the users, e.g. it is very hard to understand what is mandatory (core), and what is not.

Once a Danish profile has been created there will be a need to get the profile included in the toolkit, and here we see some challenges. In Denmark, particularly for public libraries, we will not always be able to use the main entry for shelving, particularly not within the music field. We see the need here to create a specific Danish ‘field’ allowing for our own local shelving. We are not completely sure how we will get that exception into the toolkit.

The National Bibliography Agreement, which is drawn up by the Danish Agency for Culture, specifies exactly what tags, or fields, should exist within a record. Sometimes what is mandatory according to RDA does not match what is mandatory according to the National Bibliography Agreement. That issue also needs to be solved when the Danish profile is added to the toolkit.

Material designators

There was a specific need to see if new material designators could be matched with the Danish way of coding in specific MARC fields. Will a full mapping be possible between DanMARC2 and RDA? The conclusion is that this is not possible and that changes to the format will be needed in order to fully follow RDA.

Denmark actively takes part in the work of EURIG, the European RDA Interest Group, with two representatives, one from the Danish Library Center and one from the Danish Agency for Culture. EURIG is important to get the views heard especially from those who come from outside of the Anglo-American cataloguing community. EURIG is also, at present, the best channel into the Joint Steering Committee where all important questions related to RDA are discussed.

The Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA has announced that it will work on making this standard an international one. In Denmark we strongly support this and believe that IFLA should express a clear support for RDA as a de facto standard for cataloguing within the world library community.

Senior Advisor Agency for Culture and Places
Senior Librarian, The Royal Library Chair, Bibliographic Advisory Board
Bibliographic Consultant, DBC Vice Chair, Bibliographic Advisory Board