CC:DA: ALA Annual Report 2020

Committee on Cataloging: Descriptive Access (CC:DA): July 9, 13, and 15

Report by Keith Knop (University of Georgia), Chair, Content Standards Subcommittee

The Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA) held its first virtual meeting, split up into three sessions on July 9, 13, and 15, 2020. A hybrid virtual/in person meeting had been proposed for ALA Midwinter, but that meeting will now also be virtual only.

CC:DA Chair Amanda Ros opened the first session with a report on activities of the committee since the last meeting. Six task forces were active, including the Task Force on the “Proposal on Changing Procedural Guidelines for Proposed New or Revised Romanization Tables” to be discussed later in the session. The Cataloging Code of Ethics Feedback Task Force, formed at ALA Midwinter, was still in preliminary stages due to the pandemic. The full chair’s report is available at

Library of Congress liaison Melanie Polutta provided highlights from her report on activity at LC, including the impact of the pandemic on operations, staffing changes, documentation and policy changes, and ongoing projects. Of particular note was work being done to revise and convert the current LC Policy Statements for compatibility with the new RDA Toolkit. This is a six-phase process of which the first three are currently underway: analysis of existing policy statements, converting policy statements to the DITA markup language used by the Toolkit, and creation of an application profile. The remaining phases are dependent on prior work being completed.

Other topics of broad interest included April updates to the Descriptive Cataloging Manual (DCM) and the BIBFRAME-to-MARC conversion project. Also announced were the two new sets of online training materials made available to the public earlier in the year, one for Library of Congress Subject Headings ( and one for Library of Congress Classification ( Polutta’s full report can be read here:

The final matter for discussion in the first session was the CC:DA response to LC’s proposal on changed guidelines for new or revised Romanization tables. The CC:DA task force chair Peter Fletcher pointed out some concerns, mainly that the proposal did not incorporate several existing LC procedures and that the division of responsibilities between CC:DA and CC:AAM (Committee on Cataloging: African and Asian Materials) was unclear as historically they had voted as separate bodies. Jessalyn Zoom and Susan Morris of LC clarified that the proposals were intended to augment, not replace, existing LC procedures, with the goal of inviting community participation while acknowledging the lack of staffing at LC; review of new and revised Romanization tables had been on hiatus due to lack of staff time. The structure of the proposed review board was still under discussion.

The second day opened with reports from the ALA Representatives to the North American RDA Committee (NARDAC). Stephen Hearn reported on NARDAC activities since Midwinter (full report: and Dominique Bourassa on activities of the RDA Steering Committee, focused largely on Toolkit development, and NARDAC testing of user-friendly display labels based on the unconstrained element set; as the unconstrained elements are not part of RDA they will not appear in the element reference boxes within the Toolkit but could appear in the community vocabularies area. There were no questions.

Robert Maxwell noted that the CC:DA 3R Task Group had mostly been involved with the proposal to add the elements “curator agent of work” and “curator agent of work of,” originally submitted by the Art Library Society of North America (ARLIS/NA). Karen Stafford spoke about the proposal in more detail. It posited four possible models for an art exhibition; the one preferred by ARLIS is of an exhibition as an aggregating work with a curator as the responsible agent. Existing curator relationships in RDA are at the item level, and the proposal was designed to acknowledge a different type of curatorship without needing to revise existing definitions. There was some discussion of the nature of shortcut relationships, and ALA Government Documents Round Table liaison Andrea Morrison said the proposal was an important one.

John Myers covered recent activities of the MARC Advisory Committee (full report: Five proposals and ten discussion papers were up for discussion at the most recent meeting, of which nine dealt with RDA elements. Most of the discussion papers were expected to return as proposals. A question was raised about how MARC would deal with representative expressions. Myers said that was not addressed in this cycle but that he expects to see future papers about the issue.

Program for Cooperative Cataloging liaison Everett Allgood reported on PCC activities (full report: Notable projects include work on policies for diachronic works and non-human personages and pseudonyms; training materials for FAST, NACO, RDA 3R revisions, and Sinopia; and the PCC URIs In MARC pilot project. Stephen Hearn asked about how we would reconcile RDA, BIBFRAME, and MARC and if we would end up with “hybrid” standards. Allgood compared RDA to a tree trunk leading to multiple branches–variants which might all be called RDA descriptions, but which vary in their particulars. Kathy Glennan also noted that the RSC will only develop RDA content, but things like administrative metadata and subject cataloging are out of scope; however, adding those things does not make a record noncompliant with RDA.

Discussion in the third session was primarily administrative and centered heavily on changes that might need to occur as a result of ALA disbanding the ALCTS, LITA, and LLAMA divisions and recombining them as a single division, Core. Chair Amanda Ros noted that CC:DA was not under any pressure to combine with any other existing committee or interest group. General consensus was that it was still too early to tell how restructuring under Core might necessitate updates to the committee charge or present new opportunities for collaboration.