Vol. 7 No. 2 (2016): RDA, Resource Description and Access: The metamorphosis of cataloguing

Cataloguing, a necessary evil: critical aspects of RDA

Agnese Galeffi
Scuola Vaticana di Biblioteconomia, Città del Vaticano

Published 2016-05-15


  • RDA,
  • RDA Toolkit,
  • Struttura,
  • Usabilità

How to Cite

Galeffi, A., & Sardo, L. (2016). Cataloguing, a necessary evil: critical aspects of RDA. JLIS.It, 7(2), 163–197. https://doi.org/10.4403/jlis.it-11710


The Toolkit designed by the RDA Steering Committee makes Resource Description and Access available on the web, together with other useful documents (workflows, mappings, etc.).
Reading, learning and memorizing are interconnected, and a working tool should make these activities faster and easier to perform. Some issues arise while verifying the real easiness of use and learning of the tool.
The practical and formal requirements for a cataloguing code include plain language, ease of memorisation, clarity of instructions, familiarity for users, predictability and reproducibility of solutions, and general usability. From a formal point of view, the RDA text does not appear to be conceived for an uninterrupted reading, but just for reading of few paragraphs for temporary catalographic needs.
From a content point of view, having a syndetic view of the description of a resource is rather difficult: catalographic details are scattered and their re-organization is not easy.
The visualisation and logical organisation in the Toolkit could be improved: the table of contents occupies a sizable portion of the screen and resizing or hiding it is not easy; the indentation leaves little space to the words; inhomogeneous font styles (italic and bold) and poor contrast between background and text colours make reading not easy; simultaneous visualization of two or more parts of the text is not allowed; and Toolkit’s icons are less intuitive than expected.
In the conclusion, some suggestions on how to improve the Toolkit’s aspects and usability are provided.


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