As Jeff noted in his post, I got sick at Midwinter, just like I did two years ago in Chicago. However, this time I waited until Sunday to be laid low by a brutal cold, and I did not ask Jeff to mercy kill me. So, not as bad, right?

Luckily, I did manage to have a productive conference before I was down for the count. My biggest takeaways came from the RDA Forum, where Kathy Glennon (University of Maryland), the ALA representative to the RDA Steering Committee (RSC) spoke about a couple of big developments with RDA. First, she discussed the RDA Restructure and Redesign Project (or the 3R Project), which will entail, as the name implies, a thorough restructuring of the RDA code, with parts and pieces being moved around to achieve a (hopefully) more logical arrangement. This project will run from April 2017 to April 2018, and during this one year period, the text of RDA will be frozen in place. No proposals or fast track changes will be considered by the RSC. However, reported problems and suggested changes will be collected and addressed after April 2018.

Secondly, and more importantly, Glennon discussed the RSC’s approval of the Library Reference Model (or LRM, formerly known as FRBR-LRM). LRM is a high level conceptual model that unifies the three functional requirement models of FRBR, FRAD, and FRSAD. Because the three functional requirement models provide the intellectual underpinnings of RDA, that means that we now have a new model to undergird RDA. The full implications of this change on the RDA instructions are not yet clear, but there are certain to be changes to RDA. LRM introduces the new bibliographic entities Agent, Collective Agent, Nomen, Place, and Time-Span, while changing the definition of the entity Person to require it to refer to an actual human being (no more fictional entities as Persons). LRM also introduces new attributes, such as Representative Expression and Manifestation Statement. So, the RDA rules are certain to be changed, the question is, in what ways?

I also attended sessions for the Linked Library Data Interest Group, the Catalog Management Interest Group, and the MARC Format Transition Interest Group, all three of which featured discussions of linked data. However, for the first time since I became aware of the idea of linked data, I came away from the conference feeling less optimistic about the future of linked data rather than more. Each of the sessions discussed linked data projects, all of which seemed very complicated and time consuming. Most relied on belt-and-suspender approaches that linked data in multiple ways, but without singling out one or two techniques as the most useful. All of the projects seemed experimental, and most of the presenters sounded somewhat unsure of the actual value that these projects had for library users. Plus, as Jeff reported from sessions he attended, there was even talk of leaving MARC in place and just adding links to it, rather than fully replacing the format. Not only were there no suggestions for best practices with linked data, there weren’t even suggestions for “pretty good practices” or “halfway decent practices.” Everybody seems afraid (rightly so) to sink money and staff time into a project that may wind up being the betamax of linked data.

On a more positive note, on Friday and Saturday I attended productive meetings of two editorial boards I’m on, for “Technical Services Quarterly” and “Serials Review.” Plus, Jeff introduced me to the glory that is Gus’s Fried Chicken while we were in Atlanta.

And I’m juuuuust about over that seriously monster cold.