Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Cataloging Legal Literature

Cataloging Legal Literature, 5th Edition, describes the authors' understanding of current descriptive subject cataloging and classification practices for legal materials.


In April 2017, additions and change proposals to the current RDA Toolkit from constituents such as the AALL cataloging community were placed on moratorium. This also included any policy statements from the Library of Congress and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC). The current version of the RDA Toolkit was frozen (permanently) in favor of the RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project, the goals of which include aligning RDA with the IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM).

Details of the Project to Date:
As of the publication of this edition, catalogers are still poised between the RDA Toolkit as it now stands and RDA3R, a new interface that includes new concepts, redefined terminology, and a number of options for describing a bibliographic resource. As of the date of this edition’s publication, these are the details known so far:

  • A stable baseline text for working on translations and policy statements currently exists. Any additional changes made during this phase should not affect the outcome of the instructions and their application.
  • Multiple options for any given instruction allows for multiple choices in creating a bibliographic description, to be determined by specific application profiles. Application profiles are expected to come from interested cataloging communities. Most of the actual cataloging instructions are similar to previous ones. The wording has changed, but the outcomes are essentially the same due to a commitment by the RDA Steering Committee to rebuild the Toolkit with minimal impact on current practice wherever possible.
  • The redesigned Toolkit will launch what is being referred to by RDA developers as an “orientation phase,” consisting of a series of webinars, online courses, and demonstrations. Some of these may have already taken place by the publication of CLL5, and wherever they have been quoted, they are referenced in endnotes and listed as useful sources.
  • Once the RDA Steering Committee and RDA Board approve the current beta site, then the one-year countdown will begin for retiring the current Toolkit. When pressed for a timeframe, representatives admit that the projected countdown date has shifted from late 2019 to early 2020. This means that the current RDA Toolkit will probably still be in effect into at least early 2021.

Because the text of the redesigned Toolkit is considered “stable,” CLL5 is a major revision that incorporates the relevant concepts and terms introduced by the 3R Project. There are specific introductory sections in several chapters that address RDA3R, and whenever possible, the authors discuss new terminology in the context of the old. Most of the cataloging examples, especially for ongoing (diachronic) works, have been updated or replaced. (MARC tagging is still used in these examples as the authors anticipate it will remain for some time.)

The authors decided to retain the specific RDA instruction numbers in the current text for historical purposes, and also because they will still be relevant for some time. Hyperlinks in the online version will gradually be replaced with citation numbers to the RDA Beta Toolkit.

With a few exceptions (all noted in CLL5 when applicable), the practical approaches for the cataloging of legal literature as described in this work have remained the same, despite changes in the RDA Toolkit.

For the purposes of this edition, the authors have incorporated as relevant:

  • RDA through April 2017 (the date the Toolkit was frozen)
  • RDA as realized in the Toolkit Beta Site through July 2019
  • Official documents and presentations from the RDA Steering Committee and its official representatives through July 2019
  • Discussions and decisions (if any) from cataloging meetings and roundtables at the recent AALL Annual Meeting in July 2019

In addition to covering the development of RDA, CLL5 also includes the topics covered in Technical Services Law Librarian through Volume 44, no. 4 (June 2019), and relevant LC and PCC documentation through July 2019.

Given the nature of the current cataloging climate, especially as members of the field await the official restructured RDA Toolkit, the authors and HeinOnline have enhanced the publication format to allow for frequent and timely updates. For this new edition, Hein developers have made it possible for the authors to directly edit CLL5 online, and these updates can appear almost immediately in the public interface. While there is also a print version available, users of CLL5 should check regular release notes in the online version to stay aware of new and revised content, particularly in regard to RDA and the revised RDA Toolkit.

May 2021 Revision