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Penn State University Libraries


RDA Documentation Team

Cataloging and Metadata Services
126 Paterno Library
University Park, PA 16802-1808

Staff Directory

Phone: (814) 865-1755
Fax: (814) 863-7293

RDA Introduction

RDA (Resource Description and Access) is a new system of cataloging rules that is replacing AACR2. Full training and documentation are planned, but, since RDA records are becoming quite common in OCLC, this preliminary list should help you to identify and deal with RDA records found during the transition.

Conceptual changes:

  • You will notice that there are fewer abbreviations in RDA records – in 300 |b, “illustrations” will be spelled out, in 250 “edition” may be spelled out, in access points “Department” will be spelled out, etc. Note that “cm” (no period) is still used in the 300 |c.

  • The “rule of three” has been repealed, meaning there will be an increase in the number of access points provided in some records.

  • There is a renewed emphasis on transcription, so fields such as 245 may include fuller data.

  • There will be some changes to authorized headings, which may look unusual, but, if it can be controlled, the heading is valid and can be accepted.

  • RDA relies on cataloger’s judgment, so there will be more diversity of valid solutions to most problems.

  • AACR2 records will continue to exist, and are to be treated as valid.


Field-by-Field Guidelines

Field(s) Treatment
Fixed Field The Fixed Field elements are largely unchanged.
0XX The 0XX fields (numeric identifiers and classification) are largely unchanged. Continue to apply current procedures.
040 RDA records are identified by the presence of |erda in 040; this will alert you to the possible presence of new fields, subfields, and other changes within the record.
1XX The author elements, for both corporate and personal names, are largely unchanged. You may notice a profusion of |e subfields, which are relator terms describing the person or body’s role – for example, author, illustrator, editor, publisher, cartographer. Accept |e on copy unless obviously wrong. The subfield is repeatable, meaning that a name may have multiple terms associated with it; accept as found.
245 Title field is largely unchanged, but the GMD (subfield |h) is no longer included.

The edition statement is largely unchanged, although it is now transcribed, meaning “edition” will be spelled out, unless it is abbreviated on the piece.


250 ## Fourth edition, revised and enlarged.

260 Field 260 may not be present in RDA copy; don’t panic. It’s probably still a valid record. 260 has been replaced by 264. When there is no 260, look for the 264; one or the other should be present.

Field 264 is used in RDA records instead of field 260 as the home of publication, distribution, manufacturing, and copyright information.

  • The field will resemble 260, and subfields |a, |b, and |c contain the same types of information.
  • Second indicator values distinguish between production, publication, distribution, and manufacture statements, and copyright dates. Each type of statement appears in a separate 264 field.
  • We no longer use “S.n.” or “s.l.”; use “[Place of publication not identified]” etc.

Accept field 264 on copy, treating 264 the same way you would 260 for matching.


264 #1 University Park, PA :|bThe Pennsylvania State University,|c 2012.

264 #1 Boston :|b[publisher not identified],|c2010.
264 #3 Cambridge [Mass.] :|bKinsey Printing Company


Field 300 is largely unchanged, except that many words are now spelled out.


300 ## 225 pages :|billustrations, maps ;|c21 cm.


The GMD (245 |h) has been replaced by three new fields:

  • Field 336 (Content Type) contains terms and/or codes describing the content of the resource.
  • Field 337 (Media Type) contains terms and/or codes describing how information is stored on the resource.
  • Field 338 (Carrier Type) contains terms and/or codes describing the physical format of the resource.

These fields are repeatable and may be used to describe accompanying material as well as the main item. Accept as found unless obviously wrong.


(print book)
336 ## text|btxt|2rdacontent
337 ## unmediated|bn|2 rdamedia
338 ## volume|bnc|2rdacarrier

336 ## text|btxt|2rdacontent
337 ## computer|bc|2rdamedia
338 ## online resource|bcr|2rdacarrier

(musical disc)
336 ## performed music|bprm|2rdacontent
337 ## audio|bs|2rdamedia
338 ## audio disc|bsd|2rdacarrier

4XX Field 490 includes the series title transcribed from the item; there is no significant change in how these are handled, except that the series numbering is recorded as it appears on the resource (spelled out or abbreviated). Continue to apply current procedures.
5XX There are no significant changes in the key 5XX fields; verify, accept, or add as usual.
6XX There are no significant changes in subject fields.
7XX The added entries are largely unchanged; as in 1XX, expect an increase in relator terms in |e. Accept on copy unless obviously wrong.
8XX The 8XX includes the authorized form of the series title; there is no significant change in how these are handled. Continue to apply current procedures.
RDA record example highlighting differences from AACR2
RDA record example highlighting differences from AACR2
RDA record example highlighting differences from AACR2
RDA record example highlighting differences from AACR2