RDA Best Practices Changes in the April RDA Toolkit Release

The April RDA Toolkit release was published on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. The release contains updates to MLA RDA Best Practices, as detailed below. As a reminder, the RDA Best Practices are available in the RDA Toolkit and the Best Practices Supplement documents are available at the CMC website. The April release also included changes to several LC-PCC Policy Statements (LC-PCC PS), summarized in this document available at the LC website.

This update cycle was particularly challenging because changes to RDA content, LC-PCC PS and the RDA Best Practices were being developed simultaneously on a very tight time-frame in an effort to get as much as possible into this release before the impending RDA content freeze. As a result, some of the RDA Best Practices merely point to following LC (rather than LC/PCC) practice, as our editing deadline preceded PCC approval of the LC-PCC PS texts. Revisions, where necessary, will be placed in the queue for the next update cycle (April 2018).

Changes to the MLA Best Practices

Statement of Responsibility – Scope (RDA Revised the wording of the best practice to include performers named alone in addition to situations where the performer(s) are named more prominently than composers, songwriters, etc.

Designation of Edition (RDA 2.5.2): Updated the text of the best practice to reflect the split of “particular voice range” and “particular format of notated music” in the RDA instruction.

Basic Instructions on Recording Identifier for Manifestation (RDA 2.15.1): Revised the wording to clarify that this instruction applies to issue numbers for audio recordings and to music publisher numbers for materials other than notated music.

Recording Production Method (RDA Added guidance for recording a production method for certain types of optical discs (e.g., CD-R, DVD-R, etc.).

Musical Works Created after 1500 (RDA and Choice of Language (RDA These new recommendations provide a working definition of “cognate” and guidance for the selection of the language of a type term.

Complete Works of a Single Type of Composition for One Specific Medium or Various Media (RDA This Best Practice provides guidance for term selection.

Medium of Performance (RDA,, Added recommendations to follow LC practice for the first instruction and to not apply optional omissions for the second and third instructions).

Numeric Designation of a Musical Work (RDA 6.16): Added clarification for recording numeric designations and added several new examples.

Additional Elements in Authorized Access Points Representing Musical Works (RDA & Added recommendations to follow LC practice (as codified in the LC-PCC PSs for these instructions).

Duration of Component Parts (RDA Added a recommendation for the alternative and a new example.

Other minor changes included:

  • Updating element names (RDA 2.15.2 & 2.15.3) in the best practice headings
  • Linking best practices from deleted instructions to their new homes (RDA 3.9.2 & 3.10.2 linked to RDA 3.9 & 3.10, respectively)
  • Removing a best practice for an instruction alternative that no longer exists (RDA

There were no changes to the Best Practices Supplement documents in this cycle.

To facilitate the 3R project, RDA content will be frozen until the April 2018 Toolkit release. During this time CSS will undertake a full review of the RDA best practices, comparing with the LC-PCC PS, updating/revising examples, and looking at alternate presentation for the Supplement 1. CSS will also continue to collect suggestions and feedback regarding the RDA Best Practices. Suggestions for new or revised Best Practices can be made via the submission form located in the FAQ on the CMC website.

February RDA Toolkit and Best Practices Update

The February RDA Toolkit release was published on Tuesday, February 14, 2017. The release contained corrections and Fast Track changes from the RSC as outlined in document RSC/Sec 6 available at the RSC website. Several of the Fast Track changes involved conversion of tables to lists (e.g., RDA Media Type, RDA Recording Content Type) and changes to glossary terms. Of particular interest in the latter category is this addition to the definition for “container”–“an insert visible through the housing is part of the container.”

Also appearing in this release are changes to element labels, definitions, scope notes, and instructions in five categories (the first four with representative examples):

  • Replacement of the wording “person, family, or corporate body” with “agent” or “agents”
    –Chapter 19 Agents Associated with a Work
  • Deletion of articles within element names and replacement of a definite article with an indefinite article preceding element names in instructions
    –RDA 2.15 Identifier for Manifestation (was Identifier for the Manifestation)
  • Replacement of “resource” with the appropriate RDA entity where extensive revision of instruction was unnecessary
    –RDA 2.0 “…attributes of manifestations and items that are most often used to identify a manifestation or item” (was “resource”)
  • Deletion of the phrase “in this order” in instructions for access points
    –RDA “For a musical work that includes words in the form of lyrics, a libretto, text, etc. (e.g., a song, opera, musical comedy), construct the authorized access point representing the work by combining:” (no longer ends with “(in this order)”)
  • Replacement of “and/or” with “or” when appropriate.

More information about these changes can be found in document RSC/Chair/18 available at the RSC website. Several of these changes are related to the implementation of IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM). The RSC agreed at their November 2016 meeting to proceed with implementation of LRM as part of the RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project.

Two Fast Track changes related to music include changes to the scope of RDA 6.14.3 Variant Title for Musical Work. In addition, the instruction for recording variant titles have been simplified (“Record a variant title for a musical work that is considered important for identification or access…”). A change to RDA Recording Illustrative Content restores “music” to the fourth paragraph of the instruction as a parenthetical choice “(e.g., chart, music)” indicating the type of illustrative content.

Changes to the MLA RDA Best Practices in this release include an updated best practice for RDA 3.19.3 Encoding Format, giving guidance for MARC encoding of terms with the removal of controlled vocabulary from this instruction. The examples in the instruction and Supplement 1 have also been updated to reflect this change. Other changes to Supplement 1 include an update to base material for cylinders and the addition of “flexi discs” (aka Soundsheet, phonosheet, etc.). The Best Practices Supplement documents are available at the CMC website.

The update also included changes to several LC-PCC Policy Statements, summarized in this document available at the LC website.

RDA Toolkit Update

The October RDA Toolkit update was published on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. This update consisted largely of corrections, revised examples, and Fast Track changes from the RSC as outlined in document RSC/Sec/5 available at the RSC website. The synchronization work that began in August continues now with the harmonization of glossary terms, relationship designators and their definitions in RDA instructions and appendices.

The RDA Toolkit is in the initial stages of the RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign Project. As part of this project, RDA Toolkit user stories are being collected. Please consider contributing your stories here.

Just a reminder, too, that the link to the Best Practices Supplements that are accessible via the MLA CMC website has been changed. The new link text ishttp://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/resource/resmgr/BCC_RDA/Supp_RDA_Best_Practices.pdf.

While none of the changes in this update are specific to music, there are a few changes worth noting. RDA instruction (Recording Mode of Issuance) now points to a list of terms rather than a table of terms and definitions. RDA, 2nd paragraph (Illustrative Content: Scope) makes changes regarding illustrative material: excluding “tables containing only words and/or numerical data,” and removing the instruction to “disregard illustrated title pages, etc. and minor illustrations.” There are several changes to chapter 17 (General Guidelines for Recording Primary Relationships). Finally, clarification regarding surnames of Dutch origin has been added to Appendix F.11.3 (Recording Surnames that Include an Article or a Preposition).

The update also included changes to several LC-PCC Policy Statements, summarized in this document available at the LC website.

RDA Toolkit and MLA Best Practices Update

The August 9, 2016 release of the RDA Toolkit contains content updates, corrections, revised examples and other Fast Track changes from the RSC. These changes are described in detail in two RSC documents available at the RSC site: RSC/Sec/3, which describes Fast Track and other changes, and RSC/Sec/4, which outlines revisions made to support the development of RDA Reference and the RDA Toolkit Glossary. Background information on these latter changes can be found in the document RSC/Chair/17, also available at the RSC site. The list of changes to LC-PCC Policy Statements can be found at the Library of Congress website.

The link to the Best Practices Supplements that are accessible via the MLA CMC website has been changed. The new link text is http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/resource/resmgr/BCC_RDA/Supp_RDA_Best_Practices.pdf.

Music-related Changes in the August Toolkit Release

Designation of edition (, 3rd paragraph, line b): In the scope, the former text “a particular voice range or format of notated music” has been split into separate list items.

Identifiers (, 2nd paragraph): The last category of identifiers has been revised to refer only to notated music. Issue numbers for audio recordings are covered under the second category (“other identifiers assigned by publishers”).

Publisher’s Number for Notated Music (2.15.2) and Plate Number for Notated Music (2.15.3): The revised element names clarify that these elements refer only to notated music. Instructions and glossary entries have also been updated.

Recording Medium of Performance ( The scope contains a new second paragraph that refers to 7.21 for guidelines on recording the medium of performance of musical content. The related last paragraph of has been deleted.

Indeterminate Medium of Performance ( The instruction for “Some Instruments, etc. Unspecified” has been revised to specify use of “unspecified,” dropping “or a similar term” from the instruction.

Appendix I: Terms added or revised include remix artist, casting director, audio producer, audio engineer, mixing engineer, recording engineer, DJ, dubbing director.

Other Revisions of Interest from the RDA Reference/Toolkit Glossary Development

Encoding format ( The vocabulary lists for encoding formats have been removed from the instruction.

Generation ( Vocabulary from separate element sub-types (including audio recordings, digital resources, microforms, motion picture films, videotapes) have been merged into a single vocabulary list. Instructions pertaining to all of the element sub-types have been deleted.

Illustrative Content ( The list of terms no longer includes the term “music.”

Layout ( The vocabulary for tactile music notation has been subsumed into a single list of terms for layout.

Material ( The term “magnetic particles” has been added to the list of base materials.

Production Method (, Exception): An exception has been added for instructions on using the terms “holograph,” “manuscript,” and “typescript.” Production Method for Manuscript (3.9.2) has been deleted.

Aspect Ratio (7.19): The previous instructions for Aspect Ratio referred to both numerical and textual values. Aspect Ratio (7.19) is now used only for the numerical ratio. A new element, Aspect Ratio Designation (, records a general term indicating a range of ratios (e.g., “wide screen,” a term covering ratios of 1.5:1 or greater).

Sound Content (7.18): The scope of Sound Content has been revised to note the absence of sound and is no longer tied to a resource “other than one that consists primarily of recorded sound.”

Changes to LC-PCC Policy Statements

LC-PCC PS provides guidance on recording serial numbers for musical works.

LC-PCC PS Updates the link to Thematic Indexes Used in Library of Congress NACO Authority Files

LC-PCC PS This policy statement was deleted because the instruction was removed from RDA.

Music-specific Changes to RDA

While changes to the music RDA best practices have been regularly reported here, music-specific changes to RDA itself have not been systematically reported. We hope to do more of that!

LC provides summaries of RDA changes on its RDA information page (https://www.loc.gov/aba/rda/index.html). Links to the summaries of the annual RDA update changes and summaries of changes to the LC-PCC Policy Statements will be found there. The most current version of the policy statements may be accessed via the RDA Toolkit (http://access.rdatoolkit.org/then click on the “Resources” tab) – no subscription is required.

This brief summary of music-specific changes to RDA is based in part on a presentation given by Kathy Glennan at the recent BIBCO Operations Committee meeting (https://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/documents/OpCo-2016/RDA-Changes-through-April%202016.pdf)

In all, the April Toolkit update included 71 fast track additions or changes and 190 changes to RDA. Music-related changes include:

Revised instructions

  • Added terms for production method (RDA  Terms now emphasize the method rather than the end product. The terms “burning,” “printing,” and “stamping” (optical discs) have been added.
  • Reworked instructions relating to number of musical works (RDA 6.16): More specific information is provided about recording numeric designations and captions.
  • Reworked instruction relating to AAPs for musical works (RDA 6.28, 6.29): guidance is provided for using “Selections” when applicable (RDA;; as a result, RDA has been deleted. The two lists for additions to AAPs in RDA have now been consolidated; as a result, RDA has been deleted.

New alternatives

  • Musical works with generic titles (RDA & RDA Though new alternatives have been added for the choice the language of the preferred title term and the use of singular/plural, the policy statements retain previous practices with regards to using English and when to use singular and plural – so there’s no change in practice for most users of LC-PCC PS and the MLA Best Practices.
  • Musical works with parts that are both numbered and titled: Both pieces of information are now recorded as part of the preferred title (RDA

Glossary definitions

  • Definitions for the production methods “burning,” “printing,” and “stamping” have been added.

RDA Toolkit and MLA Best Practices update

The April 12, 2016 release of the RDA Toolkit included a few revisions to MLA’s Best Practices and the supplements.

BP now includes a recommendation to record the type of corporate body in all cases, whether or not the term is used as a qualifier in the authorized access point. Generally the LCSH term “Musical groups” for performing ensembles is used (note the use of the plural for “groups”) and the term’s source is recorded in subfield 2.

BP now includes guidance for cases of doubt as to whether the preferred name for a performing group conveys the idea of a corporate body. In such cases, an addition for the type of corporate body is made as instructed at RDA (and also RDA A qualifier such as “Musical group” in not added simply to bring out the musical aspect of the corporate body.

Supplement 1 now includes values for audio cartridge (e.g., 8-track) in the chart. Supplement 1 has also been revised to clarify the non-RDA terms to which “without $2 rda” applies.

The Best Practices are accessible only via the RDA Toolkit. The supplements are accessible via the MLA CMC website.

Thanks to all who were involved in this effort.

RDA Toolkit and MLA Best Practices update

The February 9, 2016 release of the RDA Toolkit included a variety of revisions to MLA’s Best Practices and the supplements.

 BP 1.7.5 now includes recommendations related to typographical devices used as separators (as in Colchester · Essex · England) and symbols that cannot be reproduced (such as the four symbols that form the title of Led Zeppelin’s otherwise untitled fourth album).

 BP now includes guidance applicable to scores bearing a stated voice range.

 BP now includes guidance for how to treat a phrase that introduces a medium of performance (as in “with an accompaniment for a violin”).

 BP now includes an example of an audio recording bearing a statement of responsibility for the performer and a separate statement of responsibility for the composers.

 BP 2.8.4 now includes guidance on when to treat a trade name as a series title instead of a label name.

 BP 2.15 now includes an example of a two-disc audio recording with consecutive numbers encoded in two separate 028 fields and an example of a two-disc audio recording that also has a truncated set number encoded in its own 028 field. AACR2 practitioners will recall that previous practice was to ignore a truncated set number (such as NI 5885/6) and only record the individual numbers (NI 5885 and NI 5886). Now all three numbers should be recorded in separate 028 fields utilizing $q.

 BP 3.16.4 and BP 3.19.3 and the supplements now clarify through examples that $2 rda should only be used in 3XX fields whose terms conform to vocabularies within RDA.

 In other chapter 3 news, the supplements now consistently show that the playing speed of a Blu-ray audio disc should be coded as “z” in 007/03. In the table of values and encodings for audio carriers, brackets have been removed for all terms. Most are now found in RDA, and the two that are not found in RDA (“Blu-ray audio” and “PVC”) are supplied without brackets and without $2 rda. Values and encodings have been added for streaming audio.

 BP 7.20 now contains guidance on encoding format of music (in 008/20 and 006/03) and music parts (in 008/21 and 006/04) as well as guidance applicable to a composer’s sketches. This BP now recommends utilizing the relatively new MARC field 348 to encode format of notated music once it has been approved for use in OCLC. Score catalogers should incorporate this into their workflow, taking advantage of constant data records and macros. While this will necessitate added effort on the part of score catalogers, implementation of the 348 field will make format of notated music immediately machine-actionable. This is a separate data element from the solely human-readable text strings recorded to satisfy the extent of notated music element in RDA 3.4.3, which itself is expected to be overhauled in the coming years. Stay tuned.

 BP now includes examples of different qualifiers used in the authorized access points for musical groups with the same name.

 Typos and other minor errors were corrected in both the BPs themselves (accessible only via the RDA Toolkit) and in the supplements (accessible via the MLA CMC website).

 Thanks to all who were involved in this effort.

RDA Toolkit and MLA Best Practices update

The October 13, 2015 release of the RDA Toolkit included minimal revisions to MLA’s Best Practices.

One revision affects 2.15.3 (Plate Number for Music). When a plate number on a score has an additional number (often after a dash) corresponding to the number of pages or plates, it is to be recorded as part of the plate number instead of ignored. The plate number may optionally also be recorded without this additional number. For example:

028 22 23009-11 $b Carl Fischer

028 20 23009 $b Carl Fischer

Further revision was done to 7.13.3 (Form of Musical Notation). The August release included new guidance about MARC encoding for multiple designations of form of musical notation as well as new examples. The October release adds new guidance covering details of form of musical notation as well as new examples. There is now sufficient guidance for cases such as chord symbols, chord diagrams, verbal instructions, etc.

Typos and various other errors were corrected both in the BPs themselves (accessible only via the RDA Toolkit) and in the supplements (accessible via the MLA CMC website).

Thanks to everyone who was involved in this effort.


The August release included new guidance for 3.16.3 (Recording Medium) that was not publicized. Recording medium (“optical,” “magnetic,” etc.) should now be recorded as applicable, in MARC 344 $b. As an example, the full array of 34X values for a typical CD with stereo playback is as follows:

344      digital $b optical $g stereo $2 rda

347      audio file $b CD audio $2 rda