Library Catalogue

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Structure of Module: E-Text

    1. Introduction

2. Definition

3. Functions

4. Importance

5. Adjuncts to library catalogue

6. Questions

7.  Further Readings

 

1. Introduction

 

If the library is considered as a heart of the institution, the catalogue becomes the heart of the library. With the ever increasing collection of library, the catalogue becomes an essential and important tool to locate the desired material from the ocean of books. It is the key to the holdings of any library which interprets the documents to the users. It informs the users what type and kind of documents are available and where they are located.

 

2. Definition

 

The term catalogue originates from the two greek phrases Kata + Logos. Kata means according to and logos means order. So the literal meaning of catalogue is arrangement of reading material in a reasonable means in a particular order.

 

The various authorities of library science have defined the term catalogue at various time in their own fashion. The first systematic definition is given by C.A. Cutter in his famous book ‘Rules for Dictionary Catalogue’ in 1876. According to him ‘Catalogue is a list of books which is arranged on some definite plan. As distinguished from a bibliography, it is a list of books in some library or collection’. As in 19th century the measure part of the collection of library was books, Cutter has used the term book. In the second part of his definition he has distinguished the catalogue from bibliography, as bibliography is also a list of book on some topic, author or subject of particular library or group of libraries.

 

According to J.D. Brown ‘Catalogue is an explanatory logically arranged inventory and key to the books and their contents and it is confined to the books in a particular library’. According to him catalogue is always a logically arranged and it is not only confined to the books but also includes their contents.

 

H.A. Sharp in his book ‘Catalogue: A text book for use in libraries’ has defined the catalogue as a ‘list to books and other reading material in the holding of a library or a group of libraries. The list contains entries of books, arranged according to some definite plan’. the use of the term group of libraries creates confusion as the catalogue of group of libraries is known as union catalogue and not a catalogue.

 

S.R. Ranganathan has defined catalogue in his book Library catalogue: Fundamental and Procedure in 1938 as ‘It is a tool which gives information about the contents of the library. It is divided into 2 parts – in subject and by author. It gives information about the arrangement and order in which they are lying in the shelves. It helps the reader to find out his or her desired book without any loss of time. It saves the time of the reader’. Ranganathan’s definition is based on five laws of library science and it includes all the functions of library catalogue.

 

The most systematic definition is given by Oxford English Dictionary – ‘now usually distinguished from a mere list or enumerations, by systematic or methodical arrangement, alphabetical or other order, and often by the addition of brief particulars, descriptive or aiding identification, indicative of locality, position, date, price or the like’. This definition emphasizes on descriptive catalogue, while in open access library there is no need of description about the collation and imprint.

 

To summarize, we can say that a library catalogue is a systematically arranged list of books, periodicals, manuscripts, maps, films, audio records and other graphic material. It contains the whole bibliographical information of a document viz author, title, publisher, edition etc. It is limited to a particular library.

 

3. Functions

 

The main function of library catalogue is to help the exploitation of resources of the library. Cutter has discussed the functions of library catalogue as:

According to Margaret Mann ‘the purpose of cataloguing is to put order into a collection of books so that volumes may be located and used for reference and circulation.

 

Ranganathan has defined the functions of library catalogue in confirmation with the laws of library science. The first law demands that any book in the stock of library must be made available to a reader as and when asked for. According to him many books are of composite nature. Neither the title nor the main entry may disclose the contents. The Second law of library science – every reader his/her book demands that hidden contents should be brought to the notice of the readers by preparing subject analytical entries. So also with the Third Law every book its reader demands subject analytical. The Fourth law – save the time of the reader as well as of the staff not only demands subject analytical but also a bipartite catalogue: alphabetical and classified parts so that the desired book is made available to the reader in minimum possible time. The Fifth law – library is a growing organism warrants adoption of a published catalogue code for consistency and choice of the physical form of catalogue. According to Ranganathan catalogue is a ‘tool for the fulfillment of the laws of library science. He has summarize the functions of library catalogue as:

 

(a) To disclose every reader his or her documents

(b) To secure for every document its reader

(c)  To save the time of the reader, and for this purpose

(d) To save the time of the staff

 

In general the library catalogue is expected to answer the following queries of the readers:

 

(a)  Is a particular book is in the library?

(b) Which books by a particular author are in the library collection?

(c)  Is there a book in the library with such and such title?

d) Is there a book in the library with such and such collaborator i.e. editor, translator, reviser, compiler, illustrator etc.

(e)  Which are the books in the library with such and such series.

(f)   The books on a given subject.

(g)  To provide bibliographical information of a particular book i.e. author, title, series, edition, publisher, year of publication etc.

 

4. Importance

 

Seeing the above functions performed by a library catalogue, we can say that it is an essential tool for locating the books from the library collection. Without a catalogue, a library is regarded as human being without eyes and a house without windows.

 

4.1 Importance of Library Catalogue in Open Access System

 

In olden times Close Access System was in vogue due to rarity of reading material. As reader were not allowed to search the books personally, library catalogue was the only tool, through which they were able to search it. In modern times all the libraries provide open access facility and readers are allowed to locate their required reading material without hindrance. They are tempted to go to the shelves directly and not to use catalogue. Hence there is a group of librarians and user, who are of the opinion that in open access system, the library catalogue has lost its importance. This is a wrong conception. In open access, library catalogue is more required as compared in close access. Due to open access facility, most of the popular books will be out of the stack room and issued to readers. In the absence of library catalogue, readers will not be able to know whether particular book is in library holdings or not and they will be disappointed. If there is a library catalogue they will be ascertained that the book is in library, it means it is issued to some other reader. Hence he can reserve the book at the circulation counter and as and when the desired book is returned, he will be informed accordingly and he will be able to have his required book.

 

4.2  Importance of library catalogue if the reading material is arranged in a classified order.

 

Again it is misconception that if the books are arranged on shelves in stack room and properly guided, reader can find his desired book easily approaching through subject. According to Sharp catalogue is complement of classification. Classification serves only one approach that too is incomplete in case of multifocal books (dealing more than one subject). Library catalogue serves various lines of approaches i.e. author, collaborator, title, series etc. Hence even in classified library, catalogue is a valuable tool.

 

4.3  Indispensible tool for other sections of the library

 

Library catalogue is a indispensible tool for providing reference service, book selection, classification, cataloguing and circulation activities of the library. It is like a pivot around witch all the activities of library rotates.

 

Realizing the importance of catalogue, Edward Edwards, has remarked in 1859 in his book Memoirs of Libraries that ‘there is no matter connected with the administration of a public library which can vie, in point of importance, with the character and the conditions of its catalogue. However liberal its accessibility, however able it’s chief, however numerous and well trained its staff, however large and well selected its stock of books, it will fall lamentably short of true standard of a good library if its catalogue be not (i) well constructed, (ii) well kept up with the growth of the collection and (iii) thoroughly at the commend of its frequenter’.

 

On December the 31st, 1865, a user of the library of the American Geographical Society wrote to the president of the society thus ‘open the New Year by making a catalogue of your library. A library without a catalogue is very much in the condition of a man without a name, a gentleman without a card or an individual without a post office address. Reform this’. Just as the starry heaven reveals the glory of the God, the catalogue reveals the glory of the librarian.

 

5. Adjuncts to Library Catalogue

 

Adjuncts means similar or identical things. In the context of cataloguing, those records and tools are known as adjuncts of library catalogue which may be consulted or used to supplement the information provided by catalogue. In library Accession register, Shelf list, Index, Bibliography etc are treated as adjuncts to library catalogue. To some extent they are identical or similar tools to library catalogue, but their functions are quite different as that of library catalogue.

 

5.1  Library Catalogue Vs Accession Register

 

Accession register is a record of the volumes aided to a library in the order in which they are received. Some of the columns of accession register are date, accession number, author, title, publisher, year of publication, pages, source, price, cost, volume, call number, withdrawal number, remarks etc. Some of the important functions of the accession register are:

 

(i) To furnish complete record on each item added to the library collection which can be consulted when       the item itself is not available.

(ii) To maintain a chronological record of the libraries growth.

(iii) To provide a direct method for tabulating growth, statistics, drafting annual report etc.

(iv) Useful for inventory, audit, insurance etc.

(v) Distinguishes several copies of the book.

(vi) Gives find information about the book, whether it is in library or withdrawn. Seeing the functions performed by Accession register, we can say that it is merely a stock register and it is a list of books chronologically received in the library, while a library catalogue helps in locating the book, serves many approaches through which a book can be traced i.e. author, title, collaborator, subject, series etc.

 

5.2 Library Catalogue Vs Shelf List

 

Shelf list is a ‘record of the books in a library arranged in the order in which they stand on the shelves’. Each title is represented by a card giving the author, title, edition, number of volumes (it any), number of copies (if more than one), call number and such other items as the library deems necessary. The call number arranges the cards in the shelf list in the same way as it arranges the books on the shelves.

 

In the beginning, the catalogues were compiled with the inventory purpose. But now this function is shifted to shelf list and catalogue is left free to develop on its all possible approaches. However shelf list serves the purpose of classified catalogue (can reveal the total books on the specific subject), if fails to give information as other approaches are concerned. While catalogue is used by the readers, staff list is used only by the library staff.

 

5.3 Catalogue Vs Index

 

Both are treated as synonymous, but both perform different functions. While catalogue discloses whole collection of a library or a particular book, whereas an index reveals exact place of information he requires. The list of books by different authors is a catalogue, but the list of reference to individual subject in a book in an index. According to E.J. Coates’ generally accepted difference between a catalogue entry and index entry is that the former includes some descriptive specification of a document containing a subject, whereas an index entry merely locates the subject.

 

5.4 Catalogue Vs Bibliography

 

A bibliography is also a list of books, manuscripts, articles, illustrations etc with required bibliographical details, compiled on lines similar to a catalogue and is limited in its scope to either an author, or a particular subject, but is not confined to a particular collection. Its main purpose is usually to bring to the notice of readers an exhaustive or select list of documents relevant to the pursuit of his enquiry or study. They are used for book selection, reference service, inter library loan etc. But they do not give the exact location in the library. Though both catalogue and bibliography are basically lists and their entries are arranged in definite order but the scope of catalogue is limited to a particular collection. Bibliography serves as adjunct to catalogue by providing additional information about a book. As such catalogue and bibliography are not identical though the distinction between the two is very narrow.

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Further Readings

  • Girja Kumar and Krishan Kumar. Theory of cataloguing. 5th ed. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing, House, 1986.
  • Horner, John. Cataloguing. London; Association of Assistant Librarians, 1970.
  • Job, M.M. Theory and practice of cataloguing. New Delhi: Metropolitan, 1989.
  • IGNOU. BLS-4. Library cataloguing theory booklet 1.
  • Needham, C.D. Organizing knowledge in libraries: an introduction to classification and
  • cataloguing. London: Andre Deutsch, 1969.
  • Sengupta, Benoyendra. Cataloguing: its theory and practice. Calcutta: World Press, 1964.
  • Vishwanathan, C.G. Cataloguing: theory and practice. 6th ed. Lucknow: Print House (India), 1986.