ALCTS - Association of Library Collections & Technical Services

Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access


January 27, 1997

Please note that the purpose of this page is to facilitate the work of the Committee and to provide a means for outreach to both library and non-library cataloging communities. This document is intended for the exclusive use of CC:DA and its cataloging constitutencies, and is presented as a discussion document in the ongoing process of rule revision. Under no circumstances should the information here be copied or re-transmitted without prior consultation with the current Chair of CC:DA.

To: Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access
From: Laurel Jizba, Member, CC:DA (Non-voting),
U.S. Corresponding Member, ISBD (CF/ER) Review Group
Subject: Draft Proposal: AACR2R GMD term change -- Computer File to Electronic Resource
Date: January 27, 1997

Introduction and justification

What this is. This is a draft document designed to encourage CC:DA discussion. Proposed here is a cosmetic change, an incremental change, that could be easily overlaid on the existing text of AACR2R. This does not incorporate fundamental changes that would require rather extensive conceptual revision, nor changes that would involve more extensive textual revision. More extensive, fundamental changes can be worked into the text at a later time, after these proposed cosmetic changes are made.

Background. Historically, there is a close correspondence between AACR2R Chapter 9, "Computer Files", and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institution's (IFLA's) International Bibliographic Description for Computer Files. See pages 7-8, rules 0.22 and .025 in AACR2R.

1996 ISBD(ER) changes. As a result of comments received during the 1996 world-wide review of the draft second edition, the English language term for "computer files" has been changed to "electronic resources". The members of the ISBD (ER) Review Group, including representatives from Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Croatia and the United States agreed to this change. In part, the choice of this term stemmed from informal surveys of the current English language literature (journals and books), which indicated "electronic resources" to be the fittest term in current usage. As well, the term "electronic resource" is arguably a better match to the translated terms found in other languages. It was agreed by European members during the April 1995 ISBD (CF) working group meeting that problematic issues concerning this term were more specific to the English language than to any other language.

Simple substitution. This is a simple proposal to substitute the term "electronic resource" and its definition in AACR2R , on a one-to-one basis for the term "computer file" and its definition found in the forthcoming ISBD (ER). As well, resource or resources would substitute for file or files when there is an appropriate contextual meaning. No other related terms in the existing text (i.e., the SMD computer disk) are involved in this proposal. In order to keep this proposal to the level of elementary textual change, conceptual issues involving interactive multimedia, interactive videodiscs, etc. are not being considered here.

Timely advantage. An advantage for submitting this simple term and definition change, along with its corresponding cross-references and textual changes is that it provides a timely way of improving and strengthening the existing AACR2R text, bringing the general material designation (GMD) up-to-date in a way that does not require extensive time and labor. Ultimately this assists the greater cataloging community in creating clearer, less ambiguous cataloging records to the information seeking public in a more timely fashion.

Online databases. If this proposal is accepted, national utilities and local online systems vendors will need to plan to make changes to existing General Material Designations (GMDs) for computer files in their cataloging databases.. The availability of global change programs in many systems makes this a viable possibility for cataloging database correction. Unfortunately, libraries still maintaining card catalogs would need to be responsible for record-by-record manual changes, or the pulling of old cards and the filing of replacement cards.

Future proposals. Future more complex, in-depth rule change proposals can be built upon the proposals in this current document. Most likely they will include other concepts from the ISBD (ER) (i.e., Web site, bulletin boards, online services, etc.), affecting Chapter 9, as well as optically based audio and visual technology concepts (i.e., compact audio disc, interactive videodiscs, etc.) affecting Chapters 6 and 7, from other more current guideline manuals and/or research.

Order of changes

It intended that if this idea is adopted, the following changes be made in the order in which they are listed, for clarity of workflow.

  1. Proposed definition for Appendix D., Glossary

    Delete the current term and definition for Computer file, and add to the glossary this term and definition:

    Electronic resource. Material (data and/or program(s)) encoded for manipulation by computer, including materials that require the use of a peripheral (e.g. a CD-ROM player) attached to a computer, and online service(s) (e.g. bulletin boards, discussion groups/lists, World Wide Web sites).

  2. Proposed narrower term and equivalent term cross-reference for "electronic resources", for Appendix D, Glossary

    Computer file. See Electronic resource.

  3. Proposed equivalent term cross-reference for "electronic resources" for Appendix D, Glossary

    Computer file. See Electronic resource.

  4. An index change will need to reflect the changes proposed above.

    1. Change in the index on page 634:

      • Delete one line :

        Computer files, 9 [and then]

      • Substitute the new term "electronic resources" for "computer files" and move all of the indented list of subordinately related terms to the corrected alphabetical order, after "Election cases" on p. 639:

        Electronic resources, 9
        definition, 9.0A, App. D
        edition area, 9.2
        file characteristics area, 9.3
        general material designation, 1.1C1, 9.1C
        note area, 9.7
        physical description area 9.5
        publication, distribution, etc. area, 9.4
        series area 9.6
        sources of information, 9.0B
        specific material designation, 9.5B
        standard number and terms of availability area 9.8
        title and statements of responsibility area, 9.1

    2. Add to the index on page 634:

      Computer files, see Electronic resources

  5. Change the text of AACR2R, substituting the term "electronic resource" (or "electronic resources", plural) for "computer file" or "computer files" where it appears. Change the article "a" to "an" where appropriate. Pages involved are as follows:

    1. Page v, CONTENTS change:

      9 Computer Files 220
      9 Electronic Resources 220

    2. Page 8, rule 0.25 change:

      computer files (Chapter 9)
      electronic resources (Chapter 9)

    3. Page 21 rule 1.1C1, change:

      "computer file" in both lists 1 and 2
      "electronic resource"

    4. Pages 220-241, change the chapter title and running title from:


    5. Pages 220-241, change every occurrence in the text of "computer file" or "computer files" to "electronic resource" or "electronic resources". This includes text on pages 221, 222, 224, 225, 227, 230, 231, as follows:

      221 rule 9.0A1

      [Computer files] may be stored …

      222 rule 9.0B1

      The chief source of information for [computer files] is …

      224 rule 9.1C2.

      If a [computer file] contains parts …

      225 rule 9.1G1

      If a [computer file] …

      225 rule 9.1G2

      In describing as a unit a [computer file] …

      227 rule 9.2B3.

      Optional addition. If a [computer file] lacks …

      230 rule 9.4C2

      Do not record a place of publication, distribution, etc., for an unpublished [computer file].

      230 rule 9.4D1.

      Give the name of the publisher, etc. and optionally, the distributor of a published [computer file] …

      230 rule 9.4D1.

      Do not record the name of a publisher, distributor, etc. for an unpublished [computer file].

      230 rule 9.4F1.

      Give the date of publication, distribution, etc., of a published [computer file] as instructed …

      230 rule 9.4F2.

      Give the date of creation of an unpublished [computer file].

      231 footnote 3.

      3. do not give a physical description for a [computer file] that is …

  6. Change only selected occurrences in the text of "file" or "files" to "resource" or "resources".

    This is because in some cases, as in Area 3 of Chapter 9, files will remain a specific and valid term applicable to the technology. The selected changes include text on the following pages:

    221 rule 9.0A1.

    The rules in this chapter cover the description of [files] …

    222 rule 9.0B1

    Other published descriptions of the [file] …

    224 rule 9.1B3.

    Do not record a [file] name …
    If desired, give a [file] name …

    225 rule 9.1F1

    Transcribe statements relating to those persons or bodies responsible for the content of the [file] …

    Give statements relating to sponsors, etc. or to persons or bodies who have prepared or contributed to the production of the [file]…

    226 rule 9.2B1

    Transcribe a statement relating to an edition of [an electronic resource] that contains differences from other editions of that [file] …

    227 rule 9.2B4.

    Do not treat an issue of a [file] …

    227 rule 9.2B6

    Transcribe an edition statement appearing in accompanying material only if it also refers to the [file].

    227 rule 9.2C1

    Transcribe a statement of responsibility relating to one or more editions, but not to all editions, of a [file] as …

    228 rule 9.3


    9.3B [File] characteristics

    228 rule 9.3A.1 Designation

    When the information is readily available, indicate the type of [file].

    Optionally, if the general material designations are used (see 1.1C1) omit computer from the [file] designation.

    228 rule 9.3B2.

    If a [file] designation is given …

    232 rule 9.5C1.

    If the [file] …

    234 rule 9.7B1.

    a) Nature and scope. Make notes on the nature and scope of the [file] …

    234 rule 9.7B1.

    b) System requirements. Make a note on the system requirements of the [file] …

    235 rule 9.7B2

    Give the language(s) and/or script(s) of the spoken or written content of a [file]

    236 example at top of page

    Title supplied in correspondence by creator of [file]

    237 continuation of rule 9.7.B7

    Give the following dates and details about them if they are considered to be important to the understanding of the content, use, or nature of the [file]:
      the date(s) covered by the content of a [file]
      the date(s) of accompanying material not described separately if they differ from those of the [file] being described

    237 rule 9.7B8.

    Give important [file] characteristics that are not included in the [file] characteristics area.

    If a [file] consists …

    238 rule 9.7B10

    If the [file] is available only by remote access …

    238 rule 9.7B14

    Make a brief note of the intended audience for, or intellectual level of, a [file] if this …

    238 rule 9.7B16

    Give the details of other formats in which the content of the [file] has been issued.

    239 rule 9.7B18

    List the parts of a [file] …

  7. If there is an approval by JSC of the proposed definitions for Appendix D, Glossary, as given in a separate proposal, then the proposed term "electronic resource" would be a candidate for substitution for the term "computer file" in each of the definitions below.

    Computer disk. A removable disk used for storage of computer files in magnetic form, read and written to by electro-magnetic impulse. Also called "floppy disk", "diskette".

    Computer optical disc. A removable, non-flexible disc used for storage of computer files in optical form, read and written to by laser technology. Common examples of optical disc formats are: Compact Disc-Interactive (CD-I), Compact Disc Read Only memory (CD-ROM), Write Once Read Many (WORM), and Photo compact disc (Photo CD).