Normative Principles: Laws, Canons and Principles-Part II

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Structure of Module: E-Text


1. Introduction

2. Canon of Recall Value

3. General Laws of Cataloguing

3.1 Laws of Interpretation

3.2 Law of Impartiality

3.3 Law of Symmetry

3.4 Law of Parsimony

4. Principles of Cataloguing

4.1 Principle of Local Variation

4.2 Principle of Osmosis

4.3 Principle of Unity of Idea

4.4 Principle of Probability

5. Questions

6. Further Readings


1. Introduction


In module 3, we have studied the meaning and concept of Law, Canon and Principle and their development in different stages. In this module, Canon of Recall Value, 4 general laws of cataloguing and 4 principles of cataloguing are discussed.


2. Canon of Recall Value


Canon of Recall Value, devised by Dr. S.R. Ranganathan in 1969 is a result of developmental research conducted at DRTC, Bangalore. Though it was in the mind of S.R. Ranganathan at unconscious level since 1938, when Ranganathan devised other canons in his book „Theory of Library Catalogue‟, however it was given the present form in 1969.


2.1  What is Recall Value?


The relative potency of a word or word group for being called back to memory by a majority of the readers, among the group of words constituting the multiworded name of an entity in an entry in a catalogue.


2.2  Definition


This canon prescribes that “in a multiworded name of a


(a)  Person,

(b) Government,

(c)  Near sovereign body

(d) Quasi Government

(e)  Institution

(f)   Conference

(g)  Organ of Government, Institutions and Conference; and


In the multiworded title of a document other than periodical publication, the entry element is to consist of the word or the word group with the highest recall value”.


2.3 Need


(1) Increase in the number of corporate bodies


The complexity and interdisciplinary character of present day research and developmental activity require the sponsorship, active support and financing by corporate bodies. An increasingly larger number of corporate bodies are being formed to promote education, research and professional activity in an increasingly larger number of specialized fields. As per the study based on „World of Learning‟ the average increase in the number of learned bodies per year is about 1700 on the glove. According to T.S. Rajgopaln‟s study of research institutions in the natural science in India „There were 27 institutions established before 1900. Between 1900 and 1946, 209 institutions came into being. After independence, there has been a steady increase in the number of institutions and on an average about 30 new institutions are being added every year‟. Hence there is a trend of increasing corporate authorship in the field of science and technology and social sciences.


(2) Increase in the variety of corporate bodies


Earlier only 3 types of corporate bodies were in existence viz Government, Institution and Conference. But in recent years new kinds of corporate bodies have come up for example, the Near sovereign body. Prior to World War I, there was hardly any sovereign body producing documents. But in the last 74 years, many such bodies came into existence. The reason of their existence is such as security, economy, and cooperation among the nations. Example of such bodies is Nato, Cento, OAS, OAU, Council of Europe, SAARC, etc.


Some corporate bodies with the names Colloquium, Tutorial, Seminar, Workshop, Project, Programme, Task Force, and Consultants etc are also comparatively newcomers in the field.


All these add to the cataloguing problems and difficulties of recall of correct name by the readers.


(3) Near Homonymous Name


Due to rise in the number of institutions and many institutions in the same field, their names are more or less similar or near homonymous. For instance in „International Relations‟ alone there are more than 100 Institutions or centres all over the world, viz


Institute for International Relations.

School of International Affairs.

Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Australian Institution of International Affairs.

Indian Council of World Affairs.


(4) Multiwordedness of the names


Earlier most of the corporate bodies were of one term only. But with the increasing number of corporate bodies, the tendency for multiwordedness in the names of bodies started growing. According to the study based on World of Learning between 1900-29, 50% bodies were with 1 to 3 words but now it has decreased. Now 70 to 80% bodies are of more than 3 words.


(5) Alternative Name


(a) Alternative name, both names in use currently viz Jaykar Granthalaya for Poone University Library, Ratan Tata Library or Library of the Delhi School of Economics.

(b) Abbreviated name generally accepted by the readers viz

ISO= International Standards Organization

FID= International Federation for Documentation.

(c) Same abbreviation used for many institution viz. ISI is used for Indian Standard Institution, Indian Statistical Institution and Institute of Scientific Information.

(d) Name, usually short, used in small, private circle viz Elsinore Conference (among librarians) = International Conference on Classification and Information Retrieval (1964).

(e)  Old name viz IIB = FID.

(f) Variation in the form of citation: References are cited either in articles, bibliographies or by other persons. There is always variations in their citations. Some time references are quoted in text and there is variation in title page name. for example International Federation for Documentation may be quoted as Federation International de Documentation (French name).


(6) Limitation of memory of readers


Due to above reasons there is a variety of institutions with number of permutation and combination of terms. It is psychological impossible for even a specialist in the field to recall or remember the name of these bodies exactly in the order they occur in the title pages of documents or in citations. In this connection 4 contexts can be recognized:


(a) Readers stating all the components in their correct sequence;

(b) Readers recall in one or more but not all the words in the name;

(c)  The reader recalling an alternative name; and

(d) The reader conforming between some element in the name of one with the name of the other.


2.4  Application of Canon of Recall Value


(1) Whole Government


The Entry element will be word or word group indicting the name of territory or area of jurisdiction viz name of country or state. There will be no secondary element viz.


INDIA for Government of India

CHINA (Republic) for Government of the Republic of China.


(2) Whole near sovereign body


Entry element will be word or word group indicating a subject, name of the body as whole and secondary element is rest of the words. Use of dash will be made.


Viz UNITED NATION (-s Organization)

EUROPE (Council of -).


(3) Whole quasi Government


Entry element will be word or word group indicating the territory or area of jurisdiction such as the name of district, taluk, municipally, corporation, panchayat etc. and no Secondary element viz


MYSORE (District) for District Board of Mysore MYSORE (City) for Mysore Municipality.


(4) Whole Institution


Entry element (1) Word or word group indicating a subject forming the purview of the whole institution viz National Library (India). (2) The word or word group indicating a class or persons or a category of corporate bodies forming the purview of the whole institution viz International Council of Scientific Unions. (3) The word or word group indicating nature of research viz Advanced Studies, Applied Research etc. (4) The word or word group indicating sphere or work viz University, College, Library etc. (5) Fanciful word such as a name of person viz Podar School. Secondary element will be rest of the words viz.


LABORATORY (Regional Research -)   Use of dash is made

LIBRARY (National -) (India) Use of dash is made

ART (Society of India)


(5)   Whole Conference


Entry element is (1) The word of word group indicating a subject forming the purview of the conference; and (2) The word or word group indicating classes of persons forming the purview of the conference. Secondary element will be rest of word. Use of dash is made. viz SPECTROSCOPY (International – Colloquium).


PEACE (Conference) (Paris) (1919).

INDIAN RESIDENTS (Cape Town) (1958).




(7) Title as Heading


General biographical works and encyclopedias of general science, useful arts, social sciences etc are entered under title.


Entry element will be earliest of the following:


  1. Word of word group indicating a subject for the purview of the document.

  2. Word of word group indicating class of person for the purview of the document.

  3. Fanciful word or word group.

  4. Title as a whole.


In rendering, first two words will be in Capitals. Remaining word group will be secondary element. Use of dash will indicate the blank space of entry element as per rule.




SOCIAL SCIENCES (Encyclopedia of -).

SCIENCE (American men of -).


AMERICA (Who was who in -).


2.5  Relation between Canon of Recall Value and other canons


2.5.1  Canon of Ascertainability


Recall value should only be searched in the term used on the title page or overflow pages. So canon of ascertainability will request the publishing world to give the entry word or name of personal or corporate author in deeper impression, as they are the best judge of the term having highest recall value. For example in Association of Special Libraries and Information Centres, neither Special Libraries nor Information Centres are the terms of highest recall value. It is the term libraries having the highest recall value.


2.5.2 Canon of Prepotence


Potency in leading section that too in the entry element. Minimum potency should be allowed to overflow. Both the canons seem common. But there is slight difference. According to Canon of Recall value, the entry element which has the highest potency will be entered in the heading. For example in Association of Public Libraries, According to Canon of Prepotene it will be rendered as – PUBLIC LIBRARIES (Association of -) while according to Recall value as LIBRARY (Association of Public -ies).


Difference: Canon of prepotence is primarily concerned with the arrangement of entries among the various entries. Recall value is concerned with the finding out of the entry element, to be used in a Heading with the highest recall value. Prepotence is satisfied in CCC by using call number in the leading section while Recall deals mainly with the alphabetical part of the catalogue.


2.5.3 Canon of Individualization


Individualization is to resolve homonym. Its sway is over the heading section of the entries may it be person, geographic entity, corporate bodies, series, document, subject or a language while Recall has its sway over the names of persons and corporate bodies having multiworded names. Individualization does not make any distinction on the basis of the number of words of an entry while Recall is only applicable if it is a multiworded entry. The duty of Recall is over with the selection of the term having highest recall value. Canon of Individualization, individualizes that term with the other heading viz All India Board of Adult Education and National Council of Adult Education. Here Adult Education is of highest recall value and other words are used as individualizing element.


2.5.4 Canon of Context


According to Canon of Context, with the change in the mode of book production, the nature of the organization of libraries and the quality of library service, the rules should be amended from time to time.


The Canon of Recall value has emerged due to this change in the practice. Due to multiplicity of learned bodies and readers capacity to remember it, this canon was produced.


2.5.5 Canon of Sought Heading


Canon of Sought Heading, Canon of Prepotence and Canon of Recall Value seem to be the members of the same family having close relationship.


It is the duty of Canon of Sought Heading to see that all the sought approaches of the readers are served by the catalogue and there should not be any entry which is not likely to be referred by the readers and the staff.


Approach of the readers towards the catalogue is the backbone of both the canons and both are the instruments in the hands of the catalogue for making the journey of the readers through the library catalogue speedy, smooth and pleasant one. Answers to the demands of both the canons are basically the matter of flair, common sense and the intelligence of the cataloguer. The experience of the cataloguer and his day to day contact with the readers enables him to find out their actual requirements, approaches and problems. Majority of CRIE‟s are due to the origin to the Canon of Sought Heading and the Canon of Recall Value will also give rise to a number of entries because opinions may differ about the possession of absolute recall value in different words or sometimes more than one word or group of words. In such cases, the only solution to the demands of different readers is CRIE.


3. General Laws of Cataloguing


General laws are those laws which are applicable to the library science as a whole as well as all the branches of library science including cataloguing. There are following general laws:


1. Laws of Interpretation

2. Law of Impartiality

3. Law of Symmetry

4. Law of Parsimony


3.1 Laws of Interpretation


CCC define Laws of Interpretation as „the well known principles of interpretation, such as the 1,008 principles of interpretation listed in the Nyaya-kosa‟.




A catalogue code is a like a legal document. Therefore, it should be interpreted like a legal text. This law prescribe that in the situation of conflict between two canons or rules it should be resolved with the help of this canon. This also prescribes that if a document can not be catalogued under any existing rule, the solution may be sought after the fresh interpretation of rules or necessary amendment should be made in the code.


3.2 Law of Impartiality


This law prescribes „that between two or more claimants-say, for use as heading – the preference of any one should be made only on sufficient grounds, and not arbitrarily‟.




For books written by two joint authors both the authors have an equal right for being chosen as a heading. For a book having alternative title, alternative title entry is prepared. In the same manner in case of multiple series, this law directs that all series should get equal right for being given as a series.


3.3 Law of Symmetry


This law prescribes „that if two entities or situations which admit of being regarded as symmetrical counterparts of each other, if one of the entities or the situations is given weight in any particular context, the other entity or situation should also be given a corresponding weight‟.




For books of two joint authors both the names are used in heading section. As a result of this law two book index entries are to be prepared. In first book index entry first author will come first and second author will precede it. In second book index entry their names will be reversed.


3.4. Law of Parsimony


This Law prescribes „that between two or more possible alternative rules bearing on a particular phenomenon, the one, leading to overall economy of man-power, material, money and time considered together with proper weightage, is to be preferred‟.




This law demands economy and saving in the library practices. It functions just like a finance secretary. The Law of Parsimony struggles with the other laws of library science and canons.


This law stresses that in open access library, as readers are free to refer the books personally, there is no need of giving information about the physical details and imprint in the catalogue entry. It also suggests of making difference between main entry and added entries in case of typewritten or handwritten and printed cards and there will be no difference in case of unit card system in which catalogue cards are either printed or duplicated by some mechanized method.


Cross Reference Index Entries are the creation of compromise between Law of Parsimony and Canon of Sought Heading. Canon of Sought Heading demands to satisfy Editor of Series approach by preparing book index entry, while it is objected by Law of Parsimony. As a compromise situation, in place of many book index entries, one cross reference index entry is prepared.


Sobering of chain procedure was also possible due to Law Parsimony. Before the introduction of this Law, all the entries of chain procedure were treated as sought links, which was against the Law of Parsimony. After its introduction, only relevant headings are used in preparing class index entries.


4. Principles of Cataloguing


CCC has recognized following 4 principles of cataloguing:


1. Principle of Local Variation

2. Principle of Osmosis

3. Principle of Unity of Idea

4. Principle of Probability


4.1  Principle of Local Variation


No code can function successfully on the international level without any provision of local consideration as now a days there are many diversities in the publications of various languages.


There should be clear instructions in International catalogue code that what factor will be tackled by a national catalogue code. In the same way national catalogue code should mention the preview of local catalogue code or linguistic catalogue code, viz in English there are capital, small and italics but in Hindi and other languages this is not the facility. Hence catalogue code should deal with style-viz dominance, subordination and the like. And the actual method of implementing these prescription will have to be stated only in national code.


1. Rules regarding transliteration

2. Rendering of personal name problems

3. Single worded surnames Saxena, Jain, Dasgupta

4. Catalogue of fleeting materials-Bank nationalization, Simla pact

5. To keep it in a classified order is sufficient

6. Selective cataloguing – some book require only shelf listing, but for incunabula detailed cataloguing is necessary.


4.2  Principle of Osmosis


(It means living with the present)


Principle of Osmosis means when a change in a catalogue code or in the scheme of classification becomes necessary in deference to the Canon or Context … that should be adopted and implemented:


There are 2 ways:


1. To re-classify or re-catalogue the entire collection immediately with additional staff. If this is done, it will cost enormously. The law of parsimony will not allow. Book fund will be shortened, Reference service will to be cut out etc.

2.Second way is to close the eyes to the change in catalogue code or classification scheme. Then laws of library science and canon of context will cry.


And the compromise in both the situations is the Principle of Osmosis:


1. All the new accessions to be classified and catalogued according to new systems.

2. Out of old collection, which are in much use, be reclassified and recatalogued, with additional temporary staff during first few months.

3. They should be kept separately and kept with new collection. Their cards also to be kept with new collection cards.

4. The rest of the collection be known as old collection. Similarly their cards be kept separately.

5. Readers attention to be invited towards new collection and old.

6. When any book is taken out from old collection, after return it should be reclassified and recatalogued and kept with new collection.


4.3  Principle of Unity of Idea


A catalogue code should deal with the following elements:


1. Definition of cataloguing terms;

2. Interpretation of cataloguing terms in deferent contexts;

3. Choice of information for a section of an entry;

4. Rendering of it; and

5. Style to record it.


This principle prescribes that no rule in a catalogue code should deal with more than one of the elements mentioned above, in respect of any problem.


Principle of Unity of Idea is a basic principle which should guide the work of formulation of rules in a code. Rules of catalogue code should guide in determining authorship, rendering and recording (place of writing and style of writing) based on unity of idea.


4.4  Principle of Probability


The principle was introduced by Ranganathan in 1969. This principle prescribes that „making the word belonging to the more numerous group of entry, increases the probability for satisfying the Canon of Prepotence‟. Thus this principle indicates that a word belonging to the more numerous group if used as entry element has a greater probability for satisfying the Canon of Prepotence.

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Interesting fact

  1. Canon of Recall Value was introduced by S.R. Ranganathan in Dec., 1969 issue of Library Science with a Slant to Doc.


Further Readings

  1. Agrawal, S.S. Recall Value: the master canon of cataloguing. Herald of Library Science. 15(1). 1976. 31-35.
  2. Bhattacharya, G. The Canon of Recall Value and the arrangement of main entries in documentation list. IASLIC Bulletin. 18. 1973.
  3. Chhaya Devi, A. The Canon of Recall Value. Herald of Library Science. 9(4). Oct., 1970. 309-313.
  4. Girja Kumar and Krishna Kumar: Theory of Cataloguing. 5th rev. ed. Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1988. Chap 11.
  5. Koul, R.K. Canon of Recall Value and other canons of cataloguing. Herald of Library Science. 10(3). July, 1971. 247-254.
  6. Ranganathan, S.R. Recall Value and entry word in Heading. Library Science with a slant to Documentation. 6. 1969. Paper Q.