Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Designed to fail?

RDA, the new cataloging rules, has been keeping all of us catalogers in suspense for a while. It's now finally about to be officially released, although, in the U.S. at least, it will be in a testing phase, as the Library of Congress and a few other libraries try it decide whether to continue with it. If the Library of Congress decides to continue using it, lots of libraries (such as DSL, for instance) will probably need to adopt it as well.

Even if you put aside all the complaints some catalogers have had about RDA, one thing that has concerned everyone was RDA's pricing. It was made clear that RDA would be primarily an electronic product, and it was assumed that the pricing would probably be subscription-based. However, there haven't been any clear answers whenever catalogers have asked how much it would cost.

Until now. "RDA Toolkit," as the product will officially be called, will cost $325 per year, for a single user at a time (there can be unlimited total users, but only one person can use it at any one time). The pricing for additional concurrent users: 2-9, an additional $55, 10-19, an additional $50, and 20+, an additional $45.

I'm not exactly happy with this, and a lot of other catalogers aren't either. With AACR2, if you buy a print copy, you pay for it (with a binder and no other discounts, probably a little of $100 with shipping), and it belongs to you (or your library) for however long you'd like. When updates came out, you could buy the updates and add them to the binder of rules you already own. If you or your library couldn't afford to buy the updates, you didn't. Your copy of AACR2 would then be out of date, but, get this, you'd still have something you could work with. With the "RDA Toolkit," if your library can't afford to fork up another $325+ next year, you'll have nothing.



  1. Just let Donna know so that she can set the money aside. To you and me that seems like a lot of $$$. To the Library itself it is not.

  2. Turns out it's actually more expensive than I thought. The additional costs I named for concurrent users need to be multiplied by the number of additional concurrent users a libraary will be having. For instance, an institution that designates 12 concurrent users will be charged $875 per year ($325 plus 11 times $50).

    I did email Donna about it. I'm still crossing my fingers that RDA will just die off, or at least not be adopted in the US (which will split US catalogers off from Canadian catalogers, at the very least, but that's another story).