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To Bangkok Conference programme

65th IFLA Council and General

Bangkok, Thailand,
August 20 - August 28, 1999

Code Number: 103-131-E
Division Number: IV
Professional Group: Cataloguing
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 131
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

German Cataloging Rules Facing the 21st Century - RAK Heading for Internationality and Online Operability

Monika Münnich
Heidelberg, Germany


1. German cataloging landscape

1.1 Rules for descriptive cataloging

In the seventies and eighties the „Prussian Instructions" were replaced by RAK in almost all academic libraries.

1.2 Regional networks

In the eighties and early nineties regional library networks were formed and developed. By now almost all state and university libraries - in many cases including their institute and seminar libraries - are cataloging cooperatively in one of the six regional networks. These networks supply and regularly update the local systems.

1.3 Format

The format structure is mostly based on MAB (Maschinelles Austauschformat für Bibliotheken - Machine-readable exchange format for libraries). Most of the regional networks do have US-MARC conversion routines.

1.4 Data suppliers

Most of the regional networks acquire externally available bibliographical and authority records:

  • Bibliographical records:
    • The German Library (Die Deutsche Bibliothek, DDB) is data supplier for German records,
    • Many networks are importing LC files, some BNB, some Casalini or others,
    • Serials are cataloged cooperatively in the Serials Data Base (Zeitschriftendatenbank) at the Berlin State Library (Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz). The regional networks are supplied with their records.
  • Authority records:
    • Authority File for Personal Names (Personennormdatei) supplied by DDB,
    • Authority File for Corporate Names (Gemeinsame Körperschaftsdatei) supplied by the Berlin State Library.

1.5 Rules landscape

The present organization for descriptive rules development:

  • Working level: Working Group for Descriptive Cataloging
  • Decision level: Rules Conference (General policy in the fields of descriptive and subject cataloging)

Representatives of all regional networks, of the German Library, Public Libraries' Section, and colleagues from the Austrian and German Swiss Networks are members of these groups.

2. Insufficiencies of the present situation

With financial support being reduced every year the work of cataloging is being severely criticized:

Some managers are demanding:

  • to create simplified rules for „lean cataloging (in analogy to lean management) - i.e. efficient and cost-effective cataloging,
  • to streamline rules by abolishing all codes relating to card catalogs and their entries, for example,
  • formalizing (thus simplifying) rules for main and added entries;
  • titles or title elements entered into a bibliographic record automatically producing access points, no additional manipulating for entries;
  • discarding all name and title references that are not necessary in online catalogs; revising of many see or see also general references;
  • improve indexing rather than creating more regulations for additional entries;
  • enhance secondary search options such as: language, year of publication, document type, genre terms, material designations etc


  • to indroduce AACR in order to get rid of the obstacles of data exchange from and to AACR countries, at least to harmonize RAK with AACR,
  • and of course
  • to stay compatible with the large amount of old data converted into machine-readable form in the meantime.

Thus the Working Group and the Conference try to serve at least three masters, and deciding in each case to either

  • adopt parts of AACR, if it is practicable, or
  • introduce structural improvements for online handling where AACR seems to be clearly card-oriented, or
  • take a formalized and simple solution;
  • and we do really hope to meet almost all interests in most cases, though by different means.

In the Project REUSE (for reusing each other's data, a project between OCLC and the State Library in Göttingen with the assistance of Barbara Tillett and me) we investigated the differences of RAK and AACR. Time doesn't allow to me to go into particulars:

URL of the REUSE-Project


3. RAK2 as it is in progress

I would like to indicate the direction RAK is going with a few examples:

3.1 Title terminology and headings

We made two major decisions:

  • to adopt the AACR title terminology (in RAK the term title includes the author statement),
  • to enter a title in general as it is given in the item (RAK: a filing title is formed in many cases - example)

3.2 Hierarchies

RAK has different structures as far as multivolume works are concerned: we make separate records for the item as a whole and for every volume, under certain conditions for a subseries.

The REUSE Group and esp. Bernhard Eversberg investigated this problem:

URL: Part/Whole Relationship


URL: REUSE+ (multivolume works)


We will not give up the hierarchical structure as a whole, but we certainly will reduce it, e.g. omit subseries, and volume statements that do not contain relevant information, as encyclopedias. And we do hope for a European interest in volume records or at least volume statements.

3.3 Author definition

As far as the author definition is concerned we most likely will adopt AACR terminology without differentiating between shared and mixed responsibility. (RAK: as soon as parts of a work can be differentiated the authors are not authors any more).

In the case of modifications of adaptations of texts we will simplify rules. Adapters and commentators will be regarded as authors: first or additional authors depending on the wording or outlay of the chief source.

3.4 Entries under persons and corporate bodies

Main and added entries will be abandoned, personal and corporate authors, titles, codes are entered according to the rule without any preferences. But: by using different tags for authors and other contributing persons we can serve the purposes of data exchange and scientific citations.

Thus author/title entries will disappear as well, as authors and titles can be searched separately and the bibliographic description will supply the context.

In mainly accepting the author definition of AACR, entries under personal authors are fairly the same. Beyond this we will consider (optionally) more than three authors if their names are given on the main title page. As far as I know the Joint Steering Committee of AACR Revision is currently addressing the same problem. Though, if this option is not introduced into AACR the exchange can be easily defined.

The instructions for entries under corporate bodies will be slightly different, we prefer formal aspects: a name of a corporate body will be entered when it is part of a title (unless it is an object) or has to be added to a title (as in the case of a generic title). But we do think that in most cases the entries under corporate bodies will either match, or in case of data exchange, can be constructed via codes (e.g. in the cases of conference publications, constitutions etc. where AACR provide main entries under these bodies).

3.5 Encoding

We will introduce codes for many cases with the aim of better search and retrieval results, easier handling for the cataloger - with the possibility to edit ISBD.

We will encode

  • form titles such as festschrift, constitution, treaty and Sammlung (works - as used in AACR collective uniform title),
  • general and specific material designation,
  • document types such as correspondence, law, homepage ...
  • material types such as audiovisual and cartographic material, electronic resource ...
  • languages (using ISO 639-2, i.e. the Alpha-3-Code),
  • conference publications:
    • codes for Conference and Exhibition,
    • authorized entries in different tags for:
      • conference publication place (optionally linked to the NAF for corporate bodies - to have search options under all references),
      • conference numeration and year.
The language code as well as the codes and authorized conference statements will replace the additions made so far in uniform titles and conferences.

3.6 Entity adaptation within name records

Due to the work of IFLA colleagues, especially Barbara Tillett's, the aim is no longer a unique form for personal or corporate names. It has been rather conceded in the meantime that it might be easier to build up authority files on the basis of equal entities: i.e. to use one common authority record with several different national headings.

Thus the problem of exchanging authoritative data are entities that do not match:

Personal names:

As far as personal names are concerned German cataloging rules were far removed from this standard:

  • we used to abbreviate the second forename (which was abandoned a few years ago - still with continuing work in authority files); and
  • we still don't differentiate between equal names (thus one record may exist for two or more persons).

Thus we consider an introduction of differentiation between equal personal names to be the major adaptation to international usage.

And I am glad to announce that the Deutsche Bibliothek has begun a project on April 1st: the colleagues in the office for the personal names authority file will download parts of the name records into their file whenever a certain name is looked up in the Library of Congress Name Authority File. This will begin to serve the long-term goal to have automatic replacement of the national name headings when exchanging bibliographic data. The Southwestern Regional Network has joined this venture on June 1st and hopefully others will follow.

As soon as the Library of Congress has migrated to their new system they will start to download parts of German name records into their file when researching the German Name Authority File.

Corporate names

Many RAK corporate names do not find a matching entity in AACR name authorities, and the reverse. Within the REUSE project these differences were investigated:


Major differences are lacking entities in

  • ships and aircraft, buildings such as churches and castles,
  • activities such as expeditions and projects,
  • executive and information agencies,
  • meetings of corporate bodies.

I am afraid to say that at the present time some of the Working Group members and their institutions would rather prefer reducing corporate bodies than introducing new entities.

Thus I do hope for an impact of the IFLA Working Group Form and Structure of Corporate Headings and its new approach of sharing common entities.

4. Prospects

I am hopeful that most of the rule adaptations I have delineated in this talk will be accepted by the Cataloging Rules Conference by the end of this year and that RAK2 will be finished within two years' time.

RAK2 hopefully will help us to achieve efficient and cost-effective cataloging and better results in exchanging bibliographic and authority data in the future.

In the long run we do hope for an international code - with a modern logic and a structure that fits into the online world.

Thus, we will

  • closely watch the Revision of AACR and the implications of the Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records,
  • try to build up a European interest group
  • and
  • certainly some of us will engage in IFLA work.

Monika Münnich, University Library of Heidelberg - Member of the IFLA Section on Cataloguing


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