School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 598 Resource Description and Access


University of Alberta 

LIS 598: Resource Description and Access (RDA)

(1-credit course)

Instructor: Ali Shiri, Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Studies 

Dates:  Friday February 8 --  Sunday February 10, 2013

Calendar Description:


This course will introduce students to Resource Description and Access (RDA) as a new standard designed for resource description and access in the digital environment.  It examines the rationale for the development of the standard and introduces the conceptual model of Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and its associated authority data model called Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD).  The course will provide an overview of the structure and format of the RDA standard and will examine and analyze examples of RDA records.


Upon completion of this course students will: 

  • Understand the nature and characteristics of Resource Description and Access (RDA)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of Functional requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD)
  • Be able to recognize and analyze RDA records
  • Identify and distinguish between work, expression, manifestation, and item 


RDA: Introduction and rationale

RDA and AACR2: Differences

Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) as a conceptual foundation for RDA

RDA structure and format: Core elements

RDA records encoded in MARC  


Instruction will combine lectures, readings, discussion and small group exercises. 

Course Relationships:

LIS 502 and LIS 532 are pre-requisite for this course.  Familiarity with the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (2) and Machine Readable Cataloguing (MARC) is highly recommended.

Assignments & Evaluation:

Students will write a paper to demonstrate their understanding of the RDA standard and the key elements of the Functional requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), namely Work, Expression, Manifestation and Item.  As part of this paper, students will choose one bibliographic record from a library catalogue for a book, serial, or DVD and will analyze and map its elements to the FRBR model.

Some of the key questions they will address in this assignment are: What is RDA? Why is RDA introduced as a new standard? What is the theoretical foundation underlying this standard? What is the relationship between RDA and FRBR?  

Assignment submission: Assignments will be completed individually and submitted electronically to the instructor ( as an attachment. 

Required Text / Readings

  • Tillett, Babara (2004) What is FRBR? A Conceptual Model for the Bibliographic Universe. 


Recommended Text / Readings:  (optional)   

  • Oliver, C. (2010) Introducing RDA: A Guide to the Basics. Chicago: American Library Association. (electronically available from the U of A Library Catalogue).
  • RDA Frequently Asked Questions, by the Joint Steering Committee for the Development of RDA:

Tentative Timetable


Introductions and overview of the course


What is RDA?
MARC standard
Differences between AACR2 and RDA
RDA structure and format 


Exercise: work with examples of RDA records
Exercise: Identify and analyze a record based on the conceptual model of work, expression, manifestations and item.
RDA data in MARC format
Discussion of final assignment

Academic Integrity:

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University. Policy about course outlines can be found in Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar.

Inclusive Language & Equity: 

The Faculty of Education is committed to providing an environment of equality and respect for all people within the university community, and to educating faculty, staff and students in developing teaching and learning contexts that are welcoming to all. The Faculty recommends that students and staff use inclusive language to create a classroom atmosphere in which students’ experiences and views are treated with equal respect and value in relation to their gender, racial background, sexual orientation, and ethnic backgrounds. Students who require accommodations in this course due to a disability affecting mobility, vision, hearing, learning, or mental or physical health are advised to discuss their needs with Specialized Support and Disability Services.