ALCTS - Association of Library Collections & Technical Services

Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access

How to Submit a Rule Change Proposal to CC:DA

Table of Contents
Who Can Submit a Rule Revision Proposal?
What Types of Proposals Are Acceptable?
How Will Proposals Be Evaluated?
Preliminary Steps To Take in Submitting a Proposal
Formal Elements of a Rule Revision Proposal
Forwarding the Proposal
What is the Timetable for Submitting a Rule Revision Proposal?
Appendix: Examples

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The Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA) is the body within the American Library Association (ALA) that is charged with initiating and developing proposals for the revision of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR). Within the United States, all additions and changes to the cataloging code (except those originating from the Library of Congress) must be channeled through this group.

Who Can Submit a Rule Revision Proposal?

Anyone can submit a rule revision proposal to CC:DA by following the instructions detailed below. CC:DA welcomes input and suggestions for code revision. At the same time, it should be noted that the process for rule revision is a formal one that requires careful preparation and patience upon the part of the petitioner. The latter is particularly important because, although approved and endorsed by CC:DA, a proposal must usually pass through a lengthy review, revision, and subsequent review process before it is approved by the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (JSC). It is not uncommon for this process to take a year or more given that the JSC is composed of representatives from the American Library Association, the Library of Congress, the British Library, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, and the Australian Committee on Cataloguing. All these members review and discuss rule revision proposals with their own cataloging communities.

What Types of Proposals Are Acceptable?

CC:DA is open to considering rule revision proposals that range from small, isolated additions or changes to the text and/or examples (e.g., the Committee spent a great deal of time identifying and correcting typographical errors that had crept into the 1993 rule revision packet) to major changes of the code (e.g., addition of a new chapter or deletion of a rule).

How Will Proposals Be Evaluated?

Whether minor or major rule revisions result, each proposal is carefully evaluated by the Committee and considered from several different angles. Although each area below might not be equally important for every proposal, the following list provides a comprehensive overview of the factors and questions that the Committee routinely considers in its evaluation process.

  • The need for the revision is determined: Is the current text confusing? Does the current text and/or examples lead to incorrect or inconsistent results, or does it cause access or identification problems for catalog users? Is there an inconsistency among similar or analogous rules? Is a rule in the wrong place? Does the proposal address a situation not covered? Is it appropriate to a general code?

  • The context is considered: What are the underlying principles or issues? Are there analogous situations?

  • The correctness of the proposal is assessed: Does the proposal solve a problem without creating others? Is it in accordance with underlying principles? Is it clear and unambiguous? Is it consistent with other similar rules?

  • The possible impact on other rules is looked for: Would the proposed change necessitate other changes? Would examples need to be corrected? Would captions, indexes, tables of contents, etc., need to be changed?

  • The potential impact of the proposal is examined: Would old cataloging need to be altered? Would the change simplify decisions? How often does the matter arise? Is access affected?

Preliminary Steps To Take in Submitting a Proposal

Given the complexity and time-consuming nature of the rule revision process, as well as the careful evaluation and close examination that each proposal will receive, it is advisable to undertake several preliminary steps before undertaking the preparation of a formal proposal:

  1. Discuss the concern with other catalogers in order to test the merits of your case and to establish the validity of the potential proposal in light of the evaluative criteria given above.

  2. Contact one of the voting members of the Committee or one of the representatives from a group (e.g., Music Library Association’s CC:DA representative) whose sphere of cataloging interest and activity might be closely allied with your concern. Discussion of the potential proposal with this expert might uncover other issues that need to be addressed, open up an avenue for discussion with other members of a particular cataloging community, or lead to taking an altogether different approach to the problem. Additionally, voting members and representatives can be particularly helpful in guiding the process outlined below and in navigating the waters of CC:DA procedure.

Formal Elements of a Rule Revision Proposal

A copy of the rule revision proposal must be forwarded to the Chair of CC:DA (see instructions on Forwarding the Proposal below). If at all possible, the proposal should be sent in electronic form to facilitate distribution over the Committee’s electronic discussion list. This will speed up the process by allowing CC:DA to consider the proposal as soon as it is received. Proposals distributed to CC:DA are also posted on the CC:DA Web site <>. (Note: if the proposal contains changes to a section or sections of the rules that feature foreign language diacritics, a paper copy should also be provided.)

Electronic copies may be either in a recent version of a popular word processor, such as Microsoft Word or Word Perfect or may be in simple ASCII text. For ASCII text versions, formatting should be indicated by SGML-like tagging, as indicated below.

The CC:DA Webmaster prepares documents for distribution to CC:DA and for posting on the CC:DA Web site. The Webmaster may be contacted for assistance in the mechanical and editorial details of preparing a proposal. The Webmaster may contact the proposer for corrections or clarifications; the proposer will have the opportunity to review the final version of the proposal.


The proposal should take the form of a dated memorandum addressed as shown below. Once received by the Chair of CC:DA, the proposal will be assigned a document number.

To: American Library Association,
ALCTS/CCS Committee of Cataloging:
Description and Access

From: [To be supplied]

Subject: [To be supplied]

Note: On the Subject: line, please include the following types of information if applicable to the proposal: the rule number; captioned words associated with the rule; whether examples, footnotes or appendices are affected:


  • 1.4D1. Name of publisher, distributor, etc.
  • Items without a collective title, 1.1G.
  • 24.10B., First Baptist Church of Urbana (Urbana, Ill.) example
  • Error in Appendix B, ABBREVIATIONS, [cite abbreviation]
  • Change to GLOSSARY entry for [cite GLOSSARY entry term]


The proposal should include a background statement that provides the context in which the rule revision should be considered. A thorough explanation of the problem(s) in AACR that will be remedied by the revision, an historical overview of the steps, discussions, events, etc. that have led to its creation, and citations to any related documents are appropriate for inclusion in this section of the proposal. As the organizational needs of the proposal dictate, the Rationale and Assessment of impact discussed below may also be included here.

Proposed revisions:

According to JSC policy, “There will be one proposal per document.” CC:DA interprets this to mean that all revisions in the proposal must be closely related, not that a separate proposal is required for each rule affected by the revision. It is therefore common for proposals to include revisions to more than one rule. Furthermore, these revisions often occur in different parts of AACR. To enhance the clarity and readability of the proposal, the following information is required for each instance of a proposed revision. If more than one revision is proposed, the order of presentation should mirror the text of the code.

Presentation of the rule with proposed changes included:

First, the proposed changes should be indicated in a copy of the current text. In presenting the current text, carefully observe spacing, indentation, capitalization, and punctuation. Typography should be reproduced. If the electronic copy of the proposal is submitted in ASCII text, use the following SGML-like tags to indicate bold and italic typeface:

<bold> indicates that enclosed text is bold </bold>

<italic> indicates that enclosed text is italic </italic>

<bold> <italic> indicates that enclosed text is both bold and italic </italic> </bold>

Next, the proposed revisions should be indicated as deletions or additions to the current text. Deletions sh ould be indicated by striking through the deleted text. Additions should be indicated by double-underlining the added text. If the electronic copy of the proposal is submitted in ASCII text, use the following SGML-like tags to indicate deletions and additions:

<delete> deleted text </delete>

<add> added text </add>

<add> added text that contains <bold> bold </bold> and/or <italic> italic </italic> text </add>

If the result of the intended change is the deletion of text with no replacement wording or rewording, provide a brief explanation.

Third sentence deleted

Last paragraph deleted

Presentation of the revised rule:

Finally, give a “clean” copy of the rule as it will appear after revision has been made. Use the conventions described above to indicate layout and typography.

Rationale/Explanation for the proposed revisions:

Each proposal should contain a rationale or justification for the suggested revision, including a statement of the problem presented by the current rule, and an estimate of the impactof the proposed solution when appropriate. The rationale may follow the set of presentations for each rule, appear immediately after all the rules have been presented or be included in the Background statement discussed above.

Assessment of the impact and survey of related rules:

Finally, the proposal should include an assessment of the impact resulting from implementation of the revision(s), including the need to study and/or change other rules within AACR. This may be a separate section of the proposal or be included in the Background statement.

Forwarding the Proposal

The rule revision proposal can be forwarded to CC:DA in one of two ways:

  • If the proposal has a particular focus or intent that coincides with the sphere of cataloging represented by one of many different groups represented on CC:DA, it can be forwarded to the representative from that particular cataloging constituency.

  • The proposal can be forwarded directly to the Chair of CC:DA.

The names of current CC:DA members are listed in the Committees section in the ALA Handbook (ALCTS/CCS/CC:DA) with full address information provided in the Handbook’s “Index of Persons.” If you are an ALA member, one free copy of the ALA Handbook can be requested from ALA headquarters in Chicago. The roster of current CC:DA members is also available on the CC:DA Web site.

What is the Timetable for Submitting a Rule Revision Proposal?

While CC:DA will accept a rule revision proposal at any time, rule revision is a complicated and lengthy procedure, and the more complicated and longer the proposal, the more time will be required to consider it. For a proposal to be guaranteed to receive consideration at the next CC:DA meeting, the following minimal time should be allowed:

  • Rule change proposals should be made available to the chair of CC:DA one month prior to the next CC:DA meeting, which is scheduled during the ALA Annual Conference or Midwinter Meeting. The proposals will be made available to the CC:DA membership and posted on the CC:DA Web site one month prior to the next CC:DA meeting.

  • If the rule revision proposal is accepted by CC:DA, it is forwarded to the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR (JSC). JSC requires that rule revision proposals be transmitted to JSC at least 30 days prior to the next scheduled JSC meeting in order to be considered. This is to allow sufficient time for the other JSC members to consult their respective advisory bodies, for those advisory bodies to review the proposal and formulate their responses, and for the JSC member to transmit those responses to the other JSC members in a time frame that allows them to read the responses and be prepared to discuss both the original proposal and the responses at the next JSC meeting. [The schedule of JSC meetings is available on the JSC Web site, usually as the final item on the latest report of Outcomes of the … JSC Meeting. The JSC procedures for receiving and considering revision proposals is documented in JSC’s “Statement of Policy & Procedures.”]

  • Unless the rule revision proposal is either accepted or rejected by all the JSC constituents, there will likely be further revision by CC:DA and subsequent review by JSC. This process may take a year or more, depending on the complexity of the proposal and the number of revisions requested.


This appendix provides two examples of rule revision proposals that were submitted from different groups to CC:DA — proposals that made their way through the CC:DA process to the JSC and were eventually adopted, one with minor changes, as part of AACR. Although the examples differ somewhat in their organization and content, each provides the information needed by the Committee to review and evaluate the merits of the proposal. Each example is presented twice to illustrate both options for submittal: (1) a Microsoft Word document and (2) appropriately coded, electronic ASCII text.

Revised by CC:DA: 2002 Jun 17
Revised per CCS Executive Committee: 2003 June 2