RDA and Cartographic Resources


by Paige G. Andrew, Susan M. Moore, and Mary Larsgaard. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions, 2015. 144 pp. $65.00 (softcover). ISBN 978-0-8389-1131-0.


Andrew, Moore, and Larsgaard’s work is a well-conceived and pragmatic manual addressed to information science practitioners from corporate libraries and information centers, government bureaus, and academics from library science and geography schools. The driving subject of the book is the framing and application of the Resource and Description Access (RDA) standard in the daily work of professional cataloguers. This source is a valid how-to-do reference tool that successfully fits the cataloguing cartographic resources research field. The goal of the manual is to explain the most updated and practical approaches in the utilization of the RDA standard to implement the organization of high volumes of bibliographic records, both digital and non-digital cartographic resources. The authors succeed in this purpose. They provide valid instructions and show the quickest workflows to solve the greatest challenges that beginners and skilled cataloguers face in the understanding, interpretation, and codification of classic and modern cartographic media.


The question addressed by the authors is What is the state of the facts in the current cartographic cataloging context, and what are the margins of improvement and optimization that might be attained applying RDA’s solutions? With a clear and linear narrative, the authors answer this query in five chapters. Andrew, Moore, and Larsgaard develop their thesis with concise, but never sterile or intricate, technical language. Their simple style and avoidance of odd theoretical code are other points of strength that make the book quite easy to browse for the user needing to quickly recall concepts and instructions. Figures and charts are well integrated in the structure of the chapters, and help the less skilled reader to visualize the outcomes of the processes discussed. 


The first chapter offers an historical excursus on cataloguing resources in the last few decades, and RDA’s introduction and acceptance within the preexisting international standards. Chapter two introduces the most used applications of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) model to cartographic resources. The third chapter presents a comparative outlook on the functionality of the cataloguing standards in use. Upon conclusion of the first three chapters, the reader gets a clear view of past and present of standards applications, and on both the differences and common features between RDA and Anglo American Cataloguing Resources (2nd edition). Chapter four expresses the main focus of the book. It details specific information on the RDA field level related to the descriptive elements for cartographic resources, and compares them with the MARC corresponding fields. The result is a comprehensive examination on RDA innovative rationale, and guidelines for what and how to record descriptive element information. The fifth chapter puts forward a concise interpretation from the authors on the strength and weaknesses between RDA and AACR2. The reader-user of this manual may or may not agree with these interpretations, but this response depends more on the personal preference and utilization of the two codes. The manual concludes with a valuable appendix composed of seven documents - a set of reference material beneficial to enhance understanding of the contents in chapters two, three and four.


This source fills a niche of cartography science literature with is combined look atgeography and information science. It is clearly laid out for the medium-upper level audience in information systems management and application, and also serves the less frequent user of GIS and all the other cataloguing record systems currently in use. The authors of this thorough and insightful book are experienced librarians with interdisciplinary backgrounds in the LIS and hard sciences, who have developed skills and competence in cartography and geography not solely working in academia. Their interdisciplinary career paths have undoubtedly shaped the educational and professional development and advancement perspective that characterize and distinguish this manual.


The manual is definitely an effective resource for the education of the new generations of information professionals. I find its narrative, methodology, and contents appropriate and formative for every graduate LIS students – but I recommend it only to those who have already attended classes on organization of information and knowledge resources – graduate geography students with a curriculum focused on cartography. Ph.D. candidates in the above mentioned disciplines should also take this work in consideration for their thesis project’s literature.

Francesco Gerali, The University of Oklahoma/The University of Western Australia