I just finished the webinar, so, while I can still remember:
I got to see the beta version of the RDA Toolkit in action (The release date is sometime in June of this year. Or, considering how things have gone with RDA, maybe sometime in July. Or later.). The reason it's called the "toolkit" is because it contains not only RDA (the rules which catalogers have been poring over, in their PDF form, since they were first made available maybe a year ago - sorry, can't remember the exact date), but also AACR2, RDA: Element set view, and "more to come." The "collection of stuff" aspect makes me think of Cataloger's Desktop. The RDA Toolkit is not, at this time, planned to be included as part of any products like Cataloger's Desktop - you'd have to buy both separately. Apparently there are plans in the works for allowing connections between the RDA Toolkit and various ILSs, OCLC Connexion, and more.
Although libraries will pay for a limited number of concurrent users, this number is unrelated to the number of profiles - an unlimited number of profiles will be allowed. I'm guessing that, with different profiles, different people can create their own personal workflows, bookmarks, etc.
The browsing and searching features of RDA were shown. I didn't see any kind of index and asked about it - the question wasn't answered during the presentation, but I think I'm probably going to get an email response sometime. I hope there will be an index, because I'm not sure I can remember RDA's wordings for things, and I know it'd take me ages to find what I want via browsing. Another option would be to use AACR2's index, then use the AACR2 rule number search available in the Toolkit, and then hope that there's a link between the rule in AACR2 to the corresponding rule in RDA. Or I could write my own index (::shudder::). Or some industrious cataloger somewhere could write an index and share it, and then probably be shot down by ALA Publishing for copyright violation or something. Sorry, sorry, moving on...
There are currently no plans for a print version of RDA because it would "do a disservice to what was originally intended to be an electronic product." This, and/or the pricing for the Toolkit, still annoys me, and I'm not sure I did a good job of explaining why in my last post. It boils down to this: I catalog pretty much the same stuff over and over. I know the basic rules well enough that I don't need to consult them all the time. I only consult them when I come across some unusual situation or when I catalog something I haven't cataloged in a while or ever. What that all means is that I only actually look through my copy of AACR2 maybe once every few weeks or months. And ALA Publishing will expect us to pay $325 each year for this. I'm not sure if they've thought about how real, flesh-and-blood catalogers use the current rules - what they've laid out here seems to indicate that they haven't. Anyway, the other option would be to print out each chapter and keep them in what will probably need to be multiple binders. I'm not sure if updates to RDA will be announced, so it may not be possible to pinpoint sections that need to be reprinted.
Consortia will get special pricing, but it's not yet clear what that will be.
Short-term additional users will be granted for training purposes.
The "free trial for all" period will be from June 2010 to August 31, 2010. It will end August 31, 2010, regardless of when the actual release date is. By the way, the software is "in pretty good shape, but not perfect yet" - it seems likely that there will be a flurry of updating the first few months. October 1st to December 31st will be the period during which the test sites will create records using RDA. January to March 2011 will be the period of record evaluation.
The RDA Toolkit looks a bit daunting to use, particularly for those who have never cataloged before (Intro to Cataloging classes are about to get scarier). One nice thing for practitioners, though - libraries can create Workflows, which they can then choose to share with others in their library, or even make public. Hopefully the Library of Congress (and perhaps OCLC?) will make Workflows available to the public. Even if all they make public is a Basic Book Workflow, that's at least something that someone like me could look through and try to learn about RDA from. Because, quite frankly, the browse view of RDA looks no less daunting than the PDFs did. If I remember correctly, the printed-out table of contents was more than 70 pages.