COMMON COMMUNICATION FORMAT (CCF)
Although UNESCO had developed the Reference Manual with the help of ICSU/AFB, it had not been accepted by many organisations. These organisations continued to approach Unesco for assistance in developing bibliographic information system.
In April 1978, the Unesco General Information Programme (Unesco/PGI) sponsored an International Symposium on Bibliographic Exchange formats, which was held in Termini, Sicily. Organised by the UNISIST International Centre for Bibliographic Description (UNIBID) in co-operation with the International Council of Scientific Unions Abstracting Board (ICSUAB), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the Symposium was convened 'to study 98 Format of Catalogue Entries the desirability and feasibility of establishing maximum compatibility between existing bibliographic exchange formats'. As a result of this Symposium, a resolution passed at the Symposium and Unesco set up the Ad hoc Group for the establishment of the Common Communication Format (CCF). This group consisted of experts from ICSU/AB, ISDS, IFLA, ISO, UNIBID, experts from the group that had devised MEKOF - format of COMECON countries. The group worked on the basis that the new format must be compatible with MEKOF - UNIMARC and UNISIST Reference manual formats and also taking care of the derivatives of these formats like USSR/US exchange format based on UNIMARC and ICSU/AB extension to the reference manual-developed by the four ways committee. This Group decided to follow certain principles, which CCF still follows
- The structure of the format conforms to the international standard ISO 2709.
- The core record consists of a small number of mandatory data elements essential to bibliographic description, identified in a standard manner.
- The mandatory elements are augmented by additional optional data elements, identified in a standard manner.
- A standard technique is used for accommodating levels, relationships, and links between bibliographic entities.
It was also affirmed that CCF should be more than merely a new format: It should be based on and provide a bridge between the existing major international exchange formats, while taking into account the International Standard Bibliographic Descriptions (ISBD) developed by IFLA.
The group undertook comparison of all the data elements in the 'Reference Manual', UNIMARC, ISDS Manual, MEKOF-2, ASIDIC/EUSIDIC/ICSU-AB/NFAIS interchange specifications and USSR-US Common Communication Format. With these six standard formats as a guide the group identified a small number of data elements which were used by virtually all information-handling communities; including both libraries and abstracting and indexing organizations. These commonly used data elements form the core of the CCF.
The first edition of CCF - The Common Communication Format was published in 1984 and the second edition in 1988. Bibliographic agencies around the world developed national and local formats based on the CCF The first CCF user's group meeting was held at Geneva in 1989 and users recommended some minor changes for incorporation in the later editions. Unesco has brought out 'Implementation Notes' for users of the CCF, which explains how various features of the CCF may be implemented within the constraints of local computer software and provides further information on-the use of the bibliographic data elements.