RDA 1.0

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RDA Planning Guide

The RDA Planning Guide from Backstage Library Works explains the range of options available through our RDA MARC record services. This includes the validation of existing RDA bibliographic records and enriching and upgrading AACR2 records with RDA elements.

Please contact your Sales representatives to request additional no-charge copies of this Guide: 800.288.1265. The information contained within this guide should be shared with cataloging managers and system managers. You may also want to share it with your local system representatives.


Resource Description and Access (RDA) is a set of instructions or rules for the description of books and other materials or resources. RDA is intended to replace Anglo-American Cataloging Rules 2nd Edition (AACR2), the current US standard for cataloging.

RDA is built on foundations established in AACR2, and the cataloging traditions on which they were based. A key difference in the RDA design is its use of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records and Authority Data (FRBR and FRAD).

RDA uses the language and terminology of FRBR and FRAD. The FRBR entities, attributes, and relationships are used for bibliographic description.

RDA rules

The RDA rules are organized to relate bibliographic description to the FRBR entities, attributes, and relationships. The first 4 sections of RDA cover elements corresponding to the entity attributes defined in FRBR and FRAD.

Records produced using the instructions of RDA are intended to be compatible with the large number of existing records created under the rules of AACR2.

RDA is a content standard, not a display, database, or coding standard. It is designed to be used with many different schemas such as ISBD, MARC, and Dublin Core.

RDA services

MARS 2.0 RDA Services provide a variety of options that enhance your patron access by improving heading consistency within your catalog by bringing all MARC records under the same standard. Our Automation Services team can assist you in completing each step of your profile.

An ongoing dialogue between you and our staff helps us better understand your needs and expectations as well as your specific system-related issues. Throughout your project, our staff is available to answer any questions, providing you with the highest quality and most cost-effective support possible.

If your particular custom needs are not outlined in this guide, please contact your project manager for further options.


Over the years, we have continually made improvements to our documentation in order to simplify the process of completing each type of profile. We hope that our guide still provides the in-depth details and examples that you are used to and manages to guide you along at an intuitive pace.

To customize your RDA service, complete these 6 steps:

  1. Data Information: Data exchange format specifications
  2. AACR2 Options:  Validation and updates
  3. GMD to CMC:  Convert GMD terms to Content, Media, and Carrier fields
  4. Description:  Add RDA elements, spell out abbreviations
  5. Access:  Additional changes made to title and access fields
  6. Reports:  Format and layout options for reports

Online profile support

As you look through the planning guide and read over the profile steps, you may have questions. Our online interface enables you to enter your library information, set up your profile and edit current jobs scheduled for processing. Filling out the profile steps with our assistance helps bring to light any remaining questions about your data.

In addition to the profile guide being freely available on our site, your dedicated Backstage project manager is available by phone or email to answer any of your questions. Part of our process is to work with you as you enter your choices so you can choose what you need with the greatest confidence.

ILS handling

Typically, an Integrated Library System (ILS) has very specific criteria when it comes to exporting and importing the bibs or authorities from your library. Knowing which ILS your library uses helps us understand your needs and expectations.

Your ILS may have a different methodology when it comes to importing vs exporting records. Contacting your ILS vendor will help clear these steps up. Since our RDA services can process bibliographic records in MARC 21 format from almost any source, it may be necessary to contact your ILS vendor regarding the best way to export the records in the proper format.

Bibliographic records in your local ILS are often the only copies that contain all the updates, modifications and enhancements made over the years. Most systems have an export feature that can create files of bibliographic records in MARC format.

Some ILS allow export by date or record number ranges, enabling a library to periodically send files of new and updated records for RDA processing.



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