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Chapter 7. Resource Description and Access Original: Identifying Persons, Corporate Bodies, and Families Recording Relationships

Chapter Outline

  • Introduction

  • Core Elements

  • General Guidelines for Recording Names

  • Identifying Persons

  • Identifying Families

  • Identifying Corporate Names

  • Recording Relationships to Persons, Families, and Corporate Bodies

  • Recording Relationships between Works, Expressions, Manifestations, or Items

  • Recording Relationships between Persons, Families, and Corporate Bodies

Key Takeaways

Chapter 6 covers original RDA guidelines to identify WEMI entities and the construction of their authorized access points. Chapter 7 covers original RDA guidelines to identify entities that serve as agents, i.e., person, family, and corporate body.

Agent entities

In the original RDA the entities person, family, and corporate body are defined as subtypes of agents involved in the creation, contribution, production, manufacture, ownership, etc, of a WEMI entity.


Original RDA elements for these entities are based largely on attributes introduced in the IFLA FRBR and FRAD conceptual models but with some modifications. As with the WEMI entities, the original RDA identifies a set of core elements when identifying a person, family, or corporate body.

Agent & name

FRAD introduced the importance of the name or names used to refer to an agent or an agent is known by. RDA includes the terms name, preferred name, variant name, access point, authorized access point, and variant access point for the different types of names and name forms. 

Relationships in authority data

In current library cataloging practice, data identifying an agent are recorded as authority data. This includes all names and forms of a name associated with a particular agent. For example, if a person uses two different bibliographic identities, this person has two sets of authority data, one for each identity. A relationship from one identity to the other is recorded in both authority records. The authorized access point for the person's identity using RDA guidelines (constructed using the preferred name and other possible additions) is established. 

Variant access points for an agent are not recorded as bibliographic data - only the authorized access point of the name is included in the bibliographic data as a relationship to WEMI. Bibliographic data describe an information resource (WEMI), not an agent.

Relationships in bibliographic data

When recording relationships of a WEMI entity to an agent (e.g., the contribution relationship between an expression and a person), the authorized access point for the agent is used to express the relationship as part of the bibliographic data.

Access points

Access points are terms, codes, or names used to represent an entity - in the case of Chapter 7 the entities person, family, and corporate body - and enable access to the surrogate records. In RDA, two types of access points are defined: authorized access points and variant access points. 

In the current practice, both authorized and variant access points for an agent are recoded as authority data. Bibliographic data include only authorized access points expressed as relationships to the relevant WEMI entity(ies) described in the bibliographic record.

Chapter References/Notes

  1. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. (1996). Names of persons: National usages for entry in catalogues (4th revised and enlarged ed., UBCIM Publication—New Series Vol. 16). München, Germany: K. G. Saur.

  2. Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) Ad Hoc Task Group on Recording Gender in Personal Name Authority Records. (2016). Report of the PCC Ad Hoc Task Group on Gender in Name Authority Records, October 4, 2016. Retrieved from

  3. PCC Ad Hoc Task Group on Recording Gender in Personal Name Authority Records. (2022). Revised Report on Recording Gender in Personal Name Authority Records, April 7, 2022.

  4. LC-PCC policy statements for gender [RDA Toolkit]. Retrieved from

  5. Library of Congress. (2007, October). MARC code list for languages (2007 ed.). Retrieved from

  6. Society of American Archivists. (1989). Archives, personal papers, and manuscripts (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: Society of American Archivists.

  7. Society of American Archivists. (2007). Describing archives: A content standard. Chicago, IL: Society of American Archivists.

  8. American Library Association, Canadian Library Association, & CILIP: Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. (2010). RDA toolkit: Resource description and access (17.0). Retrieved from

  9. Program for Cooperative Cataloging. (2014). PCC guidelines for the application of relationship designators in bibliographic records. Retrieved from Guidelines.docx

  10. PCC Standing Committee on Training (SCT). (2015). Training Manual for Applying Relationship Designators in Bibliographic Records. Retrieved from


Additional Readings

Here, you will find readings specific to the contents of this chapter.

You may find more readings about similar topics on the Cataloging and Classification Web Resources and External Training Resources pages

RDA Resources and the RDA Toolkit
Guidelines for Recording Names
  • Dobreski, B, & Kwaśnik, B. (2017). “Changing depictions of persons in library practice: Spirits, pseudonyms, and human books.”  Knowledge Organization, 44(8). 

  • Billey, A., Drabinski, E. & Roberto, K. R. (2014). “What's gender got to do with it? A critique of RDA 9.7.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 52(4), 412-421, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2014.882465 

  • Harrison, S.E. (1992). “Chinese names in English.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 15(2), 3-14, DOI: 10.1300/J104v15n02_02

  • Niu, J. (2013). “Evolving landscape in name authority control.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 51(4), 404-419, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2012.756843

  • Piscitelli, F.A. (2019). "When does the forename end and the surname begin? Saints’ names as compound forenames in Spanish." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 57(4), 187-196, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1601146

  • RDA Toolkit,

  • RDA Registry and RDA Vocabularies, [namespaces, elements, value vocabularies, etc.)

Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC)
  • Bishoff, L. & Patton, G.E. (2020). "The PCC and OCLC: Some reflections on 45 years of cooperation." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 58(3-4), 209-216, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1691695

  • Danskin, A. (2020). "The Anglo-American authority file: A PCC Story." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 58(3-4), 221-229, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1705952

  • Lorimer, N. (2020). "Cultivating the cooperative: PCC, the Music Library Association, and the Music OCLC Users Group." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 58(3-4), 361-374, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1702604

  • Naun, C.C. (2020). "Expanding the use of linked data value vocabularies in PCC cataloging." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 58(3-4), 449-457, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1705953

  • Program for Cooperative Cataloging. (2020). BIBCO Standard Record (BSR) RDA metadata application profile. Program for Cooperative Cataloging. Retrieved from

  • Program for Cooperative Cataloging. (n.d.). Reports & news archive. Library of Congress. Retrieved from 

  • Shieh, J. (2020). "PCC’s work on URIs in MARC." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 58(3-4), 418-427,DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1705951

  • Stalberg, E., et al. (2020). "Exploring models for shared identity management at a global scale: The work of the PCC Task Group on identity management in NACO." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 58(3-4), 428-437, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1699880

  • Thomas, S.E. (2020). "The Program for Cooperative Cataloging: Backstory and future potential." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 58(3-4), 190-203, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1699621

  • Wolven, R. (2020). "From council to program: Creating the Program for Cooperative Cataloging." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 58(3-4), 204-208, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1701599

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