RAD Past, Present, Future

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Dancy, Richard. "RAD Past, Present, Future." Archivaria 74 (Fall 2012): 7–41. Available online at from Archivaria website.

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Archival descriptive standards
Rules for Archival Description

The Canadian Rules for Archival Description (RAD) standard is now just over twenty years old. How well has RAD fared? RAD took over the framework of then-existing bibliographic models for describing library items (AACR2, ISBD(G)) and adapted it for the description of bodies of archives. RAD’s successes are many and its impact on the Canadian archival profession and system profound. But the bibliographic framework has been abandoned elsewhere in the archival world, and librarians themselves have recently revised it; now we need to liberate RAD from it. The first section of the paper situates the development of RAD in the history of descriptive standards; the second discusses a number of problems with RAD and the difficulty of resolving them in the current framework. Comparisons are made throughout to the post-RAD descriptive standards, as well as to the 2004 effort (not finalized or implemented) to rewrite RAD as RAD2. The conclusion looks briefly at options for the future of the standard. The main proposal is that RAD needs a thorough revision that would more closely align it with international standards, enable it to better handle the descriptive challenges of digital objects, and accommodate the insights of recent critical writing on description that have expanded the notion of archival context.

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