UBC Library and Archives

Roundtable on the "Future of RAD (Rules of Archival Description)" Glandt, Lisa; Dancy, Richard


The Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) has been tasked to develop a plan to update and revise the Rules of Archival Description (RAD) and are seeking input from members of the Canadian archival community. Since 2008 there have been no revisions to the standard and it time to deal with the descriptive reality of digital records (both digitized and born-digital) in archives. The goals of this revision include aims to: - Align RAD with international archival descriptive standards - Clearly articulate the relationship of RAD to relevant standards in other allied professions (libraries, museums, galleries, digital preservation). - Ensure that RAD meets the descriptive requirements of both analogue and digital archival material. - Make RAD accessible to a range of institutions with varying levels of professional staffing. - Ensure any new standard is backwards-compatible with the current version of RAD. Richard Dancy from the Canadian Committee on Archival Description (a Committee of the CCA) participated in this discussion to provide some background on the project and help facilitate discussion on questions including: 1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of RAD in its current form? - Revision would aim to preserve and build on existing strengths. 2. What should be the scope of the standard? - RAD's approach was to be a "one-stop shop" for description at all levels in all media, is this still our aim? Contrast ISAD(G) and DACS that focus on aggregate levels of description and leave archivists to look to external media-specific standards for item-level description. - Should RAD focus only on description or should it take in other functions, e.g. accessioning, arrangement, administrative and preservation metadata? should these be dealt with separately? If separate, what are the relationships? - Does RAD need a data model to underpin the standard? This would identify the entities involved in description, their attributes and their relationships. The data modelling approach was the basis for the thorough overhaul of the librarians' cataloguing standard (RDA replacing AACR2). The ICA is currently undertaking the development of a conceptual model for archival description (see The Expert Group on Archival Description) 3. What form should "alignment" with international standards take? - Should RAD adhere closely to the ICA standards in terms of structure and data elements or is it acceptable to have a minimal set of elements in common but follow a different structure? - Are there deficiencies in the international standards that RAD should seek to remedy? 4. What is the best form for governance of the standard? - Within an archival network pressed for resources, which is the body best able to assume responsibility for maintaining the standard? 5. How should consultation proceed and who should be consulted? - What are the best ways to engage the perspectives of the various groups including Archivists, Archives advisors, Archival educators in academic archival programs, Digital preservation specialists, IT developers, Archives users, Archives creators, Librarians and Curators

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