Common Communication Format (CCF): CCF is a structure format for creating bibliographical records and for exchanging records between groups of information agency and libraries. An international symposium in Taormina, Sicily conducted by UNESCO was held in April, 1978. On the recommendations of the symposium UNESCO / PGI formed the adhoc group on the establishment of a Common Communication Format (CCF). The first edition of CCF was published in 1984 under the editorship of Peter Simmons and Alan Hopkins and its second edition was published in 1988 in two volumes called CCF/B and CCF/F. Several countries have adopted this standard for exchange and creation of bibliographic records at national level.
A) Structure of CCF: The structure of CCF is the implementation of ISO-2709. It consists of the following-
a) Record Labels: Each CCF record begins with a fixed record label of 24 characters and consists of data element which contains the record. Each data element is identified by its relative character positioning the label.
b) Directory: The directory is a table containing a variable number of 14 characters entries i.e the length of each directory entry is of 14 characters terminated by a fixed separator character. Each directory entry corresponds to a specific variable. Data fields in the record are divided into four sub sections or parts, containing data for the following data element-
ii) Length of the data field
iii) Starting character position
iv) Implementation defined section
c) Data Fields: In the CCF a data field is defined as consisting of-
ii) Sub Fields: A sub field consists of a subfield identifier followed by a data string which is terminated by either another sub field identifier or a field separator.
iii) Field Separator: The field separator is that character which constitutes the final character of every data field except for the final data field in the record.
iv) Record Separator: The record separator is that character which makes the end of the final data field in the record and constitutes the final character of the record.
B) Limitation of the CCF: CCF is not designed to meet the requirement of all types of libraries and information organizations for local implementation. It is also not expected that institutes will use CCF record format for internal storage and processing purpose. The major limitations of CCF are-
a) It is not sufficiently detailed in its definition and coverage of all data elements necessary for creating a bibliographical database for an individual library.
b) It does not include its cataloguing rules nor does it align itself with any particular cataloguing code or set of rules oriented towards a specific or fixed type of information output form.
c) Except for standard CCF fields CCF recommends the use of alphanumeric code for tags but it may not be possible to use alphanumeric code for tags in all cases (eg when library system uses CDS/ISIS, this recommendation cannot be implemented).
d) Though in CCF further addition of the new data elements and their respective content designator is possible, the unrestricted interpolation by different users can create complication for exchanging data among libraries. In such cases, the content designators of newly added data elements are likely to vary which may cause inconvenience for exchanging data from one database to another.