Normative Principles: Laws, Canons and Principles-Part I

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Structure of Module: E-Text

 

1. Introduction

2. Historical development of Normative Principles

3. Need and importance of Canons of cataloging

4. Canons of cataloguing

4.1 Canon of Ascertainability

4.2 Canon of Prepotence

4.3 Canon of Individualization

4.4 Canon of Sought Heading

4.5 Canon of Context

4.6 Canon of Permanence

4.7 Canon of Currency

4.8 Canon of Consistence

5. Questions

6. Further Readings

 

1.Introduction

 

In the context of cataloguing normative principles are those rules, laws, canons and principles which govern the preparation of catalogue codes and various types of entries, choice of headings, rendering of headings, description and other things related with the cataloguing of documents. Dr. S.R. Ranganathan is the first person to whom the credit goes for enunciating, propounding, discussing and analyzing normative principles of cataloguing. In the words of Ranganathan „The first application of scientific method to cataloguing and catalogue code was made in 1934. Between 1934 and 1938, some rules of Classified Catalogue Code came up for critical examination from time to time, both in classroom discussion and in staff meetings to consider problem books in cataloguing. On the anvil of such critical discussions, certain normative principles of cataloguing took shape. These were different from Five Laws of Library Science. Indeed, they were all implications of these Laws‟. These special normative principles were called as Canons of Cataloguing.

 

S.R. Ranganathan has used 3 terms to denote his normative principles viz:

Law, Canon and Principle.

 

Law is the correct statement and is used in major disciplines such as Laws of Library Science, Newton‟s Law etc. Law tells us what we have to do and what not to do.

 

Canon means a general principle or standard by which judgements may be formed. It also means a body of writings which are accepted as genuine. Ranganathan has used the term in the context of divisions of first order of the major discipline such as cataloguing, classification, book selection etc.

 

Principle is a rule regulating the procedure or method necessary to be observed in the pursuit or study of some art or science. Ranganathan has used this term in the context of divisions of the second or later order of the major disciplines such as Principle of Facet Sequence in Classification and Principle of Alphabetization in Cataloguing.

 

2. Historical Development of Normative Principles

 

All the normative principles of cataloguing were not developed in one stretch, they were developed in different stages as detailed below:

 

2.1  Formulation 1

 

Though Classified Catalogue Code came out in 1934, but the normative principles of cataloguing first time were included in Theory of Library Catalogue published in 1938. There were following six canons:

    1. Canon of Consistency

2. Canon of Relevance

3. Canon of Ascertainability

4. Canon of Permanence

5. Canon of Currency; and

6. Canon of Prepotence

 

In addition to these canons, the general Law of Parsimony was also mentioned as guiding principle.

 

2.2  Formulation 2

 

The second formation of Canons of Cataloguing was made in Ranganathan‟s Heading and Canon published in 1955 prepared in connection with the IFLA conference in the same year. In this book some canons were further added to and elaborated and the number of canons were extended to eight by the addition of the following two:

 

    7. Canon of Context

8. Canon of Purity

 

The Canon of Relevance of the Theory (1938) was renamed as Canon of Sought Heading in „Heading and Canons‟ (1955). The Canon of Individualization was incorporated in Edition 4 of Classified Catalogue Code in 1958.

 

2.3 Formulation 3

 

The near-latest formulation of canons for cataloguing is given in the Classified Catalogue Code, Ed 5(1964). It has omitted the Canon of Purity and added the Canon of Individualization. This edition also mentions the following General Laws applicable to cataloguing:

 

1. Laws of Interpretation

2.Law of Impartiality

3. Law of Symmetry

4. Law of Parsimony

5. Principle of Local Variation and

6. Principle of Osmosis

 

2.4  Formulation 4

 

The latest formulation of Canon is in December, 1969 issue of Library Science with a Slant to Documentation. In it the following canon and principles were added:

 

1. Canon of Recall Value

2. Principle of Unity of Idea

3. Principle of Probability

 

So at present there are in all 9 Canons, 5 laws of Library Science, 4 Basic Laws and 4 Principles.

 

3.Need and Importance of Canons of Cataloguing

 

Library cataloguing is the important tool to exploit the use of reading material of the library. If should satisfy all the sought approaches of the readers. Hence there should be some principles to lead a cataloguer in the right direction. These principles lead him for consistency, accuracy and uniformity in all type of libraries in different times.

 

Today cataloguing work is becoming difficult day by day due to enormous and constant increase in library output. The title pages of all the books are not standard (uniform). Many books are elusive (difficult to understand) and many subjects baffling (puzzling). While a title page reveals a new edition, actually it is a reprint. Sometime title page does not reveal the real subject of the book.

 

As the light house guide the ships in the night on the sea, these canons and principles guide the cataloguers in their day to day work of cataloguing to achieve uniformity, consistency and accuracy. These canons are implications of the laws of library science, but are applicable to the field of cataloguing only. In case a canon fails to give a solution to a problem or there is conflict between canons, then an appeal to the laws of library science helps in the solution. Canons of cataloguing are the specific normative principles applicable to cataloguing, that is:

 

1. Drafting of a catalogue code including the formulation of each rule.

2. Interpretation of the rules to meet new situations brought out by a particular document or by changes in the practice of book production.

3. Provision of suitable guidance for day to day cataloguing work.

4. To make critical study of any catalogue code.

 

In this way these canons throw light, in which catalogue code should be written as well as interpreted while applying. These have provided a scientific basis to the field of cataloguing.

 

Prof. Ganesh Bhattacharya highlighting the potentiality of the normative principles remarked that „this set of normative principles of cataloguing is one of the outstanding contributions of India in the field of cataloguing. The potentiality and the versatility of these principles have not yet been fully realized by the library profession at large. Probably when first enunciated, these normative principles were ahead of time. However, their helpfulness and importance will be realized in due course. Those who have experience cataloguing as a discipline find them as the set of normative principles available for the discipline today‟.

 

4. Canons of Cataloguing

 

Out of the 9 canons of cataloguing, first 8 canons are discoursed below.

The latest 9th Canon-Canon of Recall value has been discussed in Module 4:

 

4.1 Canon of Ascertainability

 

Ascertainability means which is traceable. According to Ranganathan, the information provided in the entries of catalogue must be ascertainable and not imaginary. This canon prescribes the use of the title page and overflow pages as the main source of cataloguing information for the choice and rendering of the Heading of main entry and specific added entries. However the exception may be:

 

(a)  The extract note, extraction note and related book note of the main entry.

(b) The leading section and directing section of Cross Reference Entry.

(c) The heading derived from the extract note, extraction note and related book note of a Book Index Entry

(d) The heading and the directing section of Class Index Entry.

 

It means the information of the above sections can be taken from outside sources.The following are the additional sources of information to the title page:

 

(a) Half title page for series and editor of series.

(b) Generic content page for ordinary composite book.

(c) Title page of constituent work for artificial composite book.

 

4.1.1 Purpose

 

Many codes suggest the cataloguers to search the information to be given in cataloguing entries outside the title page which creates inconsistency, and is the wastage of the time. If the Canon of Ascertainability is followed, there would be little need of making search to obtain biographical and bibliographical information from outside sources. According to Ranganathan it is the duty of publishers to give all needed information on the title page and back of title page i.e. year of birth and death, entry element, real name (in case of pseudonym), call number etc. This canon would be better satisfied if an international standards for the title page and its overflow pages is adopted.

 

4.1.2 Implications

 

Classified Catalogue Code (CCC) fully regards the Canon of Ascertainability. All the rules make provision to prepare the entry under the heading available on the title page. Chapter MD of CCC prescribes rules for the choice of heading. For example in case of pseudonym author if the title page gives the pseudonym author, entry is made under pseudonym and if real name is also given in subordinated manner, it is also given in the heading section. However if the real name is given in prominent form and pseudonym is given in subordinate manner, it is rendered under the real name and pseudonym is given in brackets in subordinate manner. This canon is violated in CCC in case of absence of series number. In this situation, CCC allows the use of year of publication or even in the absence of year of publication, the use of serial number 1,2,3 etc as the case may be. However Ranganathan calls it as purposeful violation of the canon.

 

AACR-2R also accepts this canon to a great extent. Prescription of Rule No. 1.0A Sources of Information and Rule No. 2.0B1 Chief Source of Information etc follow it. However this canon is violated by some rules of AACR-2R i.e. 21.1A2 Probable author, 21.4A Use of outside sources named or not, 22.2A Predominate name, 22.2C Change of name choose the latest name etc are some of the example of violation of this canon.

 

4.2 Canon of Prepotence

 

The potency to decide the position of an entry among the various entries in a catalogue should if possible, be concentrated totally in the leading section, and even there, it should be concentrated, as much as possible, in the entry element. If total concentration in the leading section is not possible, the minimum possible potency should be allowed to over flow beyond it, to later sections, and even this should be distributed in the decreasing order of intensity.

 

Earlier while writing a letter the potency was given to city. It was written in capitals. It was underlined, someone wrote it in English and Hindi. Now potency is given in Pin Code.

 

4.2.1 Purpose

 

Ranganathan has pointed out „the essence of a library catalogue is arrangement of entries. The entries get sorted letter by letter and digit by digit. The potency goes on decreasing rightwards and downwards, from the first letter or digit in most of the scripts. Any mistake in the first letter or the digit will therefore be fatal. The entry will virtually lost in far of region of the catalogue. Hence the purpose of this canon is to place the entry under the most potent part of the bibliographical information considering the purpose of the entry. Every possible care should be taken in recording correctly the most potent part of the entry and the later parts.

 

4.2.2  Implications

 

Main entry

 

In CCC it is fully respected. Main entry of CCC is fully potent. Every work of every author gets individual number and there is no need of seeing other sections of the main entry, while in AACR-2R the main entry is author entry. However much the name of the author may be individualized by giving the full names, year of birth and death, it may not individualize the document described in the entry. Author might have written two or more documents. In this way potency is not concentrated in leading section. A part is necessarily overflows into the title section. More over while in CCC entry element is given in capitals and forename in brackets, in AACR it is given in running hand, CCC gives potency and it is according to principle of sweep of the eye.

 

Cross Reference Entry

 

In Cross Reference Entry, the leading section has only a little potency. A good deal of potency necessarily flows into the third section which gives the locus and in this way violets the canon.

 

Subject analytical in dictionary catalogue also do not respect the canon of prepotence.

 

Class Index Entry and see and see also subject entries

 

Class Index Entry satisfy fully, as there can not be two class index entries with the same heading. All the potency in respect of arrangement of entries, of a class index entry is totally concentrated in its leading section. Its 2nd section-directing words-and 3rd section containing class number are totally impotent.

 

Dictionary catalogue also respects this canon.

 

Book Index Entry and Name & Title Entries

 

CCC and AACR-2R, both the codes satisfy this canon. But AACR-2R violets in the case of government publications.

 

CCC  INDIA, EDUCATION (Ministry of-). AACR India. Ministry of Education.

 

4.3 Canon of Individualization

 

This canon prescribes that the name of any entity-be it of a person, a geographical entity, a corporate body, a series, a document, a subject, or a language-used as the Heading of a catalogue entry should be made to denote one and only one entity, by adding to it the necessary and sufficient number of individualizing elements.

 

4.3.1  Purpose

 

If the name of entity used as heading is not individualized, this would cause homonyms and catalogue will become a mess.

 

4.2.2  Implications

 

Both CCC and AACR-2R have provided rules for individualization. CCC prescribe Rules JB32, JB3, JB41 dealing with the individualization of geographical entities. Rule JA5 prescribes year of birth and dealth as individualizing element after the secondary element of the personal author.

 

Rule JC71 prescribe year of formation is to be added as individuating element in the case of temporary organ of government. Rule JD2 prescribes individuating element to be used for resolving the homonym is to be the term denoting its:

 

1. Place, if it is a localized institution;

2. Country, if it has a national status;

3. Constituent state, country, district, taluk, etc if it is a State, Country, District, Taluk, etc. Institution; and

4. Headquarters, if it cannot be individualized conveniently by any of the terms mentioned in 1,2 and 3 above.

 

Similarly Rule JF2 prescribes the name of the place of conference and its year be added as individualizing elements to the name of a conference which is not held periodically. Rule JE3, JE4 are for individualization of Diplomatic and Conference without specific name.

 

4.4 Canon of Sought Heading

 

This canon prescribes „that the decision for choice and rendering of heading for the main entry and added entries should be based upon the possibilities of the users‟ approaches to the library catalogue‟. It more no element in a catalogue entry should be included which is not relevant to its purpose. If there is no likelyhood of an approach by any of the users (readers or library staff) looking for a particular choice and rendering of a heading it should not be used as heading.

 

4.4.1 Purpose

 

The purpose of this canon is to make all such entries which are likely to be demanded by the readers. For example a reader can ask a document by author, title, collaborator, or series for which author, title, collaborator and series entries are prepared, putting this information in heading section. It is also the purpose to check unnecessary bulk of entries which are not going to be asked by the readers i.e. no need of preparing title entries for expressive titles viz Introduction to, Elements of, Primer of, Text Book of etc.

 

Canon of Sought heading will greatly help in framing of various rules for choice and rendering of heading. It will prove helpful in the designing of a catalogue code.

 

4.4.2 Implication

 

The decision whether any of the users may or may not make an approach for a particular type of choice of a heading will be based on the judgement of the cataloguer. The judgement should be based on experience of serving the readers on reference counter and should be applied carefully. Some of the implications are:

 

(a)  Change of title approach: The need for preparing entry for changed title is due to this canon e.g. a book Village India was later published under the title Village uplift in India. If both the books are purchased in the library, but only one is available when a reader approaches the library, his demand can be fulfilled even any one of these titles is available.

(b) Extract and its approach: If an extract of a book is published and available in the library alongwith the book from which it is extracted, it will be able to satisfy reader‟s demand. This will only be possible if he knows its existence. For this purpose a note in catalogue entry Extract from ……. will be helpful.

(c)  Merger book and its demand: In 1953 the phenomena of two or more books merged into one book was noticed by Ranganathan. Canon of Sought Heading prompted the framing of a rule to meet such a problem.

(d) Pseudo series: The concept of Pseudo series owes its origin practically to this canon. What are the plays of Shakespeare‟s with variorum edition are available in the library was asked which lead to the concept of Pseudo series.

(e)  Sobering of Chain procedure: Chain procedure was developed in 1938 and the Canon of Sought Heading was included in 4th ed of CCC in 1958. Earlier all the links of the chain were treated as significant links for the class number L183:

 

LMedicine

 

L1 Regional organ, Medicine

L18 Head, Medicine

L183 Ear Medicine

 

Entry number 2 and 3 were unsought and not relevant to the purpose of readers. These were also objected by Law of Parsimony. But the way was discovered only after this canon was evolved.

 

(f) Cross Reference Index Entries: Cross Reference Index Entries are created by a compromise of Law of Parsimony and Canon of Sought Heading. A reader may remember only one of the names used by the author out of the names given in the heading section. But how to satisfy the readers approach for the alternative name. This approach is served by preparing Cross Reference Index Entries.

 

4.5 Canon of Context

 

This canon prescribes that

 

“The rules of catalogue code should be formulated in the context of:

    1.The nature of cataloguing features of the book, prevalent in the mode of book production.

2.The nature of organization of libraries prevalent in regard to the mode and quality of library service, and

3.The coming into existence of published bibliography and particularly bibliographical periodicals, and

4.That the rules should be amended from time to time to keep step with the changes in the context”.

 

4.5.1   Implications

 

In the light of this canon Ranganathan suggests to omit the bibliographical details such as pages, size, imprint etc from the main entry of catalogue in open access system, as readers can see this information personally, if needed. There is no need too of giving annotation. If library is acquiring published bibliographies, there is no need of preparing analytical entries. The formulation of Canon of Recall Value is also due to the Canon of Context, as it was felt that in a multiworded name of Institutions, Conference etc the term of highest recall value should be used as the entry element in the heading.

 

This canon demands that cataloguing practices should also be changed to keep abreast with changes. Hence the rules in catalogue code should also be revised keeping in view of the changes. AACR-1 has been revised to incorporate the provisions of ISBDs.

 

4.6 Canon of Permanence

 

This Canon prescribes that „no element in an entry, the heading in particular, should be subjected to change by the rules of a catalogue code except the rules themselves are changed in response to the Canon of Context‟.

 

4.6.1 Purpose

 

The purpose of this canon is to achieve stability in the headings.

 

4.6.2 Implications

 

If the information once given in the heading section of an entry is changed frequently, it will involve much cost and labour. For example a author has written one book under one pseudonym. According to Canon of Ascertainability it will be rendered under that pseudonym. Later on his another pseudonym becomes familiar. If we are changing the heading of the book under recent pseudonymous name, we are not only violating the Canon of Ascertainability, but Law of Parsimony is also violated as we have to change the card of main entry and added entries. It is why the alternative names desired by Canon of Sought Heading are left to the care of Cross Reference Index Entries.

 

4.7  Canon of Currency

 

„The principle that the term used to denote a subject in a Class Index Entry of a classified catalogue and in a Subject Entry of a dictionary catalogue should be the one in current usage‟.

 

4.7.1 Purpose

  4.7.2 To serve every reader with a subject entry under the heading under the currently used terms and not obsolete term best known among the majority of the users.

 

4.7.2  Comments

 

But there is one difficulty. To decide best known subject is difficulty problem. The name of the subjects are changing with the time. For example Library Science was known as Library Economy, Political Science as Politics, Economics as Political Economy and Physics as Natural Philosophy etc. If we follow the Canon of Currency, it means we are violating the Canon of Permanence. So this conflict was resolved by a partition of field. Canon of Currency has its sway only over subject headings or Class Index Entries and Canon of Permanence over name heading i.e. name of person, geographical entity or corporate body.

 

There is another difficulty. Current among whom? Two different terms may be current at the same time among specialists as well as general readers. As a general rule we should adopt the multiworded general terms, as general terms are followed by both by general readers as well as by special readers as compared to one worded special terms, e.g. Child Medicine in preference to Pediatrics. If we adopt special terms, the general readers will be unable to follow it. Therefore as per Second Law of Library Science, to serve every reader common name should be preferred to special terminology in subject headings.

 

4.8 Canon of Consistence

  • CCC defines this canon as „the principle that:
  1. The rules of a catalogue code should provide for all the added entries of a document to be consistent with its main entry; and
  2. The entries of all documents should be consistent with one another in certain essentials such as choice, rendering, and style of writing, the heading and the other sections‟.

 

4.8.1  Implications

 

Observance of this canon ensures great deal in uniformity in catalogue e.g.main entry of all documents in dictionary catalogue is author entry in all cases.

 

The  added  entries  of  documents  should  be  consistent  with  the  main  entry.Inconsistency of any sort will spoil the whole structure of the catalogue.

 

It also saves the time of the readers because they become acquainted with the consistent form in which information is rendered in all entries, which enables them to become familiar with the catalogue easily.

 

Interesting Facts

  1. The term ‘Canon’ was used by W.C. Berick Sayers first time for Canons of Classification. Later on it was used by S.R. Ranganathan for Canons of Classification as well as for Canons of Cataloguing.
  2. Dr. S.R. Ranganathan is the first person who has developed Canons of Cataloguing for cataloguing theory. He has used three terms – Laws, Canons and Principles for Normative Principles of Cataloguing.
  3. S.R. Ranganathan has developed CCC in 1934, but he has developed theory of cataloguing only in 1938.
  4. Presently the number of Canons of Cataloguing is 9, but when first time developed their number was only 6
  5. Canon of Relevance was renamed as Canon of Sought Heading in 1955
you can view video on Normative Principles: Laws, Canons and Principles-Part I

Further Readings

 

  1. Bhattacharya, G. Homoge. Vikram University, Department of Library Science, Ujjain. Ranganathan memorial lecture 1. 1973.
  2. Documentation Research & Training Centre (Bangalore). Annual Seminar Papers, Part A. Bangalore: DRTC, 1970.
  3. Kaul, K.L. Canon of Ascertainbility. Bulletin of Indian Library Association, 1952.
  4. Krishna Kumar. Ranganathan’s canons and scientific method (In International Conference on Ranganathan’s Philosophy. Proceedings. Ed. By T.S. Rajgopalan. Delhi: Vikas, 1985. P 383-394).
  5. Neelameghan, A. Canon of Ascertainbility. Journal of Library Science. 6.1963. 54-56.
  6. Ranganathan, S.R. Classified catalogue code with additional rules for dictionary catalogue code. 5th ed. Bangalore: Sarda Ranganathan Endowment for Library Science, 1988. Part B.