One big change from AACR2 to RDA is in the organization of the instructions. Where AACR2 was organized by type of material, RDA is organized according to the FRBR entities. RDA has 10 sections and an introduction, as follows:
Section 1: Recording Attributes of Manifestation & Item
Section 2: Recording Attributes of Work & Expression
Section 3: Recording Attributes of Person, Family, & Corporate Body
Section 4: Recording Attributes of Concept, Object, Event & Place
Section 5: Recording Primary Relationships Between Work, Expression, Manifestation, & Item
Section 6: Recording Relationships to Persons, Families, & Corporate Bodies
Section 7: Recording Relationships to Concepts, Objects, Events, & Places
Section 8: Recording Relationships between Works, Expressions, Manifestations, & Items
Section 9: Recording Relationships between Persons, Families, & Corporate Bodies
Section 10: Recording Relationships between Concepts, Objects, Events, & Places
Note that each section gives instructions on recording either the attributes of an entity or the relationships that exist between entities. Each section is divided into several chapters—there are 37 in all—although at this time, all of sections 4, 7, and 10 (those sections dealing with subjects) have not been written. Section 1 (on manifestations and items), for example, gives instructions on recording information unique to manifestations and items—e.g., edition, number, publication and production information, copyright, mode of issuance, etc., as well as information on the carrier (i.e., the format) and media (i.e., the device needed to play the resource) of the resource. Section 2 (on works and expressions) contains information on recording attributes of works and expressions, which may include title, date, content, and language.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know where in RDA to turn for a particular instruction. What is the difference, for example, between sections 3 and 6? It’s something of a fine distinction. Section 3 has information on how to define and identify a person (or family or corporate body). How do we determine the preferred name? How do we deal with official titles or with popes and kings or names in non-Latin scripts? Section 6, on the other hand, gives information on how to determine who is the person or persons or body or bodies that are responsible for creating a particular work. The information in section 3 may be more useful for those creating or modifying name authority records, where section 6 may be more useful for those working with bibliographic records. Think of it this way: the person who in section 3 is a “person” is a “creator” in section 6 because section 6 concerns his or her relationship to a resource.
It is important to have some understanding of these distinctions in order to know where to look in the RDA instructions. I have found that chapter 2, “Identifying Manifestations and Items”; chapter 6, “Identifying Works and Expressions”; and chapter 19, “Persons, Families, and Corporate Bodies Associated With a Work” are particularly useful in working with bibliographic records.