Final report


Conference of cataloging rules in the 21st century,

Cairo, Egypt 1-3 April 2013

Final Report


The first of April was the official date for RDA implementation in some of major national libraries in the world. In the same date; the first conference discussing RDA was held in Egypt by (Cybrarians) The Arabic Portal for Librarianship and Information. This was the first event held about RDA, as a result; experts of cataloging in Egypt and Arab countries were present in this event. More than 140 delegates attended the conference.

The conference identified four main topics to be discussed in the sessions

1.    The theory and philosophy of RDA.

2.    Translation issues, and challenges of implementation in Arab libraries.

3.    RDA for descriptive cataloging.

4.    Authorities files in RDA.

The organizing committee of the conference selected very carefully a number of speakers who were the expert catalogers in Egypt, speakers who have practical experience in RDA. This was to insure high level of presented papers.

Keynote speakers

The conference had two key lectures for the best academic experts in cataloging:

1.      Professor Mostafa Hossam El Din, Department of librarianship at Cairo University. Dr. Hossam gave very important lecture about the philosophy and theory of RDA, he presented the main theoretical features the RDA based on: functionality of data, modeling of data, independency of data, links between data, focal of data, realistic of data, universality of applications, flexibility of applications, integration of applications, and web and the applications.

2.      Professor Kamal Arafat Nabhan, dean of libraries at Misr University for Science and Technology. Dr. Arafat’s lecture entitled “Relationships between texts in Arabicauthoring” His lecture surprised all attendees, because he set a theory named Bibliogram that explain the relationships between texts (works), he discovered more than 60 types of relationships. What surprised the delegated that he set his theory in 1996 before FRBR appearance.

Conference sessions

The conference had four main sessions; each one has selected speakers from professional librarians who have already experienced with RDA. The speakers came from major organizations in Egypt and Arab countries; like: the Library of Congress Cairo Office, American University Library, and Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Session 1: Basics of RDA

The first speaker was Dr. Hisham Fathy Makki from Library of Congress Cairo, his paper entitled “Theortical and methodological basics of Resources Description and Access (RDA)” he explained some theoretical issues in RDA and its relation with MARC21, and explored some problems in MARC and it’s not valid to build a structure of relational databases.

The second speaker was Dr. Khamis Abdel Maksoud, consultant of National Library of Kuwait, his paper gave a historical view on cataloging rules and it’s development from AACR2 to AACR3 and the big change to RDA.

Session 2: Authority files in RDA.

This session discussed issues of authority in RDA, it had two papers. The first one presented by Shadia El Hanafy, head of quality assurance at AUC. The paper talked about the importance of authority control in general, and the problems that face cataloger while authorizing the Arabic names specially lake of biographical data which is needed in RDA.

In the second paper Dr. Mahmoud Khalifa the president of Cybrarians and cataloger at Library of Congress Cairo, presented the new features of RDA in authority records and its effects on MARC 21 tags. The paper explained the news fields that should be used in authority records of personal names, families, corporate bodies, and conferences.

Session 3: RDA for descriptive cataloging

It was one of the most exciting sessions. It had three speakers; Osama Salama, senior cataloger at AUC. He presented practical paper on cataloging of film materials in RDA, it described in details how to catalog DVDs in RDA, and its related fields in MARC 21, and how to catalog streaming media which was good added value. The paper provided many of examples for RDA records.

The second speaker was Ayman El Masry the vice director of serials section in Library of Congress Cairo, Ayman asked in his paper’s title: Is it new rules or new naming? He indicated in his paper that according to the definition of the term rules; RDA did not bring any new rules at least regarding serials cataloging and just few new rules for monographs.

The third speaker of this session was Khaled Reyad the vice director of monographs section in Library of Congress Cairo, he discussed the effects of RDA implementation on cataloging productivity, the paper made a survey on catalogers in Egypt who officially using RDA (American University in Cairo (AUC) and Library of Congress Cairo Office) to explore their opinions about RDA effects. Regarding time of records creation 83% of cataloger see that RDA takes longer time. For understanding of RDA 55% answered with very good, 21% good, 12% excellent, and the same for poor.

Session 4: RDA implementation in Arab libraries community

The first speaker at this session was William Kopycki the field director of Library of Congress Cairo Office. William presented the experiment of staff training at Cairo office for 4 months on RDA, the training was performed online via e-learning platform. Then he showed examples of RDA records that created by Cairo Office staff.

The next speaker was Eman Khairy the Arabic cataloger at the National Library of Qatar. Eman’s paper was very comprehensive and covered many points related to RDA. It discussed the new changes of RDA that will affect cataloging of Arabic resources. The paper put an implementation plan for RDA in Arab libraries, the plan start with defines when the decision of transition to RDA should be taken, and other related issues like: budgets, training and ILS effects.

The last speaker was Osama Mahmoud, authority cataloger at Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The paper discussed the advantages and disadvantages of RDA, and suggested to implement RDA for authority file only as it has real changes. Osama advised libraries in Egypt and Arab countries to cooperate all together and exchange experiences. The paper also discussed the challenges that may face Arab libraries in RDA implementation.

Accompanying workshops

 The conference had three accompanying training workshops held in parallel. About 69 delegates attended the workshops. The first workshop was on using RDA in descriptive cataloging and performed by Dr. Mahmoud Khalifa. The second workshop performed by Khaled Reyad and was on using RDA in building authority files. The third workshop was on RDA for serials cataloging and performed by Ayman El Masry.

Conference outputs

The conference was the first event on RDA in Egypt and Arab countries and introduced basic information on RDA to librarianship community in Egypt. The conference committee decided to put applicable recommendations for the conference:

  1. Preparing detailed report in English about Dr. Arafat theory on relationships between works, and post it to the international community.
  2. Establishment of RDA Arabic Group to be in charge of lead the Arabic librarians community to be involved in RDA implementation.
  3. Spreading knowledge about RDA in Arab librarians community through meetings, mailing lists, etc.

Cybrarians: The Arabic Portal for Librarianship and Information will be in charge of execution the outputs of the conference, and will keep in touch with ALA to negotiate about Arabic translation of RDA.



Cairo Egypt


RDA Conference

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