Language of Treaties in Access Points for Treaties


Prepared by:
American Association of Law Libraries
Technical Services Special Interest Section
Descriptive Cataloging Advisory Working Group (DCAG)

Last revised: 11/21/2014

  1. Create a work-level authority record for an unestablished treaty or compilations of treaties, whenever an authorized access point is needed for it on a bibliographic record.
  2. Establish preferred names of treaties or compilations of treaties according to RDA, but also apply if the treaty has been published simultaneously in two or more languages, and the original language of the treaty cannot be determined. This is a frequent occurrence.
  3. On the work-level authority record, optionally include any variant access points for the name of the treaty that will help the user. These variant access points may include names of the treaty that appear in the language expression of the treaty being cataloged, in any other language expression of the treaty, or in reference sources. These variant access points may be added to the work-level authority record regardless of whether expression-level authority records for specific versions in other languages are being created. For example: the preferred title for a treaty is being established in English. There exist English, French, and German expressions of the treaty. The cataloger may use variant access points based on the French and/or German names of the treaty on the work-level authority record for the treaty).
  4. If desired, the cataloger may also create expression-level authority records for one or more language expressions of the treaty.


Work-level authority record for Treaty on European Union. Name of treaty appears in English and German (both names being either on the version being cataloged or on separate language versions). Preferred name of treaty is established in English according to RDA

130 _0 $a Treaty on European Union $d (1992 February 7)
430 _0 $a Vertrag über die Europäische Union $d (1992 February 7)

Expression-level authority record for German version (Optional)

130 _0 $a Treaty on European Union $d (1992 February 7). $l German
430 _0 $a Vertrag über die Europäische Union $d (1992 February 7)


  1. The user may be looking for a text of the treaty in a particular language other than that of the treaty’s preferred title. If an expression-level authority records exists, then the user will be led directly to resources containing a text of the treaty in the desired language.
  2. If the user is looking for a work about the treaty, and searches by a variant language name of the treaty that is used in the authority record, then the user will be led to the appropriate authorized access point for works on the treaty.
  3. In neither case is the existence of the variant language x-ref on both the work and expression-level authority records a problem.


We acknowledge that a similar problem exists for all works written in different languages or that have works written about them in languages other than the original language. Our proposed practice for treaties could be usefully extended to other works:

For example, a German-speaking user might be looking for a work on A Midsummer Night’s Dream but know only the German title: Ein Sommernachtstraum. Our current work-level authority record for A Midsummer Night’s Dream( won’t help him much with the FRBR user tasks (find, identify, select, and obtain) if he’s doing a subject search with the German title of the play. But given other priorities, we don’t propose trying to get the policy for treaties extended to other types of works and expressions.