Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (RDA Edition), referred to hereafter as DCRMR, is the latest in a sequence of manuals for rare materials catalogers. The first manual, Bibliographic Description of Rare Books (BDRB), was published in 1981 as the Library of Congress interpretations for AACR2 rules on early printed monographs. In 1991, BDRB was succeeded by Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Books (DCRB), which was prepared by a working group of the RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee (BSC) and the Library of Congress. DCRB was then succeeded by Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books) (DCRM(B)) in 2007. In contrast to the previous two editions of rare book cataloging rules, the Library of Congress preferred to be responsible for commenting on and approving the text rather than actively engaging in writing it and BSC took the lead role in writing the manual. DCRM manuals for additional formats were published subsequently, including serials (2008), graphics (2013), cartographic (2016), manuscripts (2016), and music (2016).

The DCRM suite was already well underway when work on RDA: Resource Description and Access (then called AACR3) was announced. The editors agreed, given the progress and investment already made, to continue work on the AACR2-based DCRM modules and not delay until after RDA was published. Following the publication of RDA in 2010, John Attig and Robert Maxwell authored a discussion paper, “Reconsidering DCRM in the Light of RDA.” This led to the creation of the DCRM-RDA Task Force (2011-2012), which recommended adding rare materials provisions to the BIBCO Standard Record and revising DCRM(B).

In 2012, BSC formed the DCRM(B) for RDA Revision Group to complete this work. In 2013, midway through the Revision Group’s work, RDA was officially implemented by the Library of Congress and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC). The Revision Group’s charge was expanded in 2013 to cover creating RDA-compliant guidelines for all formats of the DCRM suite and renamed the DCRM for RDA Revision Group. Editorial groups working on unpublished DCRM modules would continue their work based on AACR2. At the ALA Annual Conference in 2014, the Revision Group recommended authoring a set of policy statements for rare materials to accompany RDA instead of rewriting the DCRM suite. To devote more bandwidth to the project, the Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials Task Force (2014-2017) was established as an independent RBMS task force. The Task Force completed their charge in 2017 by creating a draft of the RBMS Policy Statements.

In 2017, editorial work on the RBMS Policy Statements was absorbed by the BSC. At this time, the RDA Steering Committee was revising the RDA Toolkit in response to the RDA Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project. As a result, BSC decided to put policy statement revisions on hold. In 2018, the BSC formed the RBMS Policy Statement Editorial Group, from a subset of committee members, in preparation to commence revision once the revised Toolkit was stabilized. In 2019, the RDA Steering Committee released a stabilized English language version of the 3R Toolkit. However, the substantial changes to the Toolkit meant that the draft policy statements could not be used in their current form, leading to a change in direction. Following ALA Annual in 2019, a decision was made to rewrite the DCRM suite as a single RDA-compliant integrating resource and write lightweight policy statements to link from the Toolkit to the revised DCRM. To reflect this change in scope, the RBMS Policy Statements Editorial Group was renamed the RBMS RDA Editorial Group. In February 2020, the new manual was officially named DCRMR.

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