A library catalog (or library catalogue in British English) is a register of all bibliographic items found in a library or group of libraries, such as a network of libraries at several locations. A catalog for a group of libraries is also called a union catalog. A bibliographic item can be any information entity (e.g., books, computer files, graphics, realia, cartographic materials, etc.) that is considered library material (e.g., a single novel in an anthology), or a group of library materials (e.g., a trilogy), or linked from the catalog (e.g., a webpage) as far as it is relevant to the catalog and to the users (patrons) of the library.
The card catalog was a familiar sight to library users for generations, but it has been effectively replaced by the online public access catalog (OPAC). Some still refer to the online catalog as a "card catalog". Some libraries with OPAC access still have card catalogs on site, but these are now strictly a secondary resource and are seldom updated. Many libraries that retain their physical card catalog will post a sign advising the last year that the card catalog was updated. Some libraries have eliminated their card catalog in favor of the OPAC for the purpose of saving space for other use, such as additional shelving.
The largest international library catalog in the world is the WorldCat union catalog managed by the non-profit library cooperative OCLC. In January 2021, WorldCat had over 500,000,000 catalog records and over 3 billion library holdings.
A more recent attempt to describe a library catalog's functions was made in 1998 with Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), which defines four user tasks: find, identify, select, and obtain.
English inventor Francis Ronalds began using a catalog of cards to manage his growing book collection around 1815, which has been denoted as the first practical use of the system. In the mid-1800s, Natale Battezzati, an Italian publisher, developed a card system for booksellers in which cards represented authors, titles and subjects. Very shortly afterward, Melvil Dewey and other American librarians began to champion the card catalog because of its great expandability. In some libraries books were cataloged based on the size of the book while other libraries organized based only on the author's name. This made finding a book difficult.
The first issue of Library Journal, the official publication of the American Library Association (ALA), made clear that the most pressing issues facing libraries were the lack of a standardized catalog and an agency to administer a centralized catalog. Responding to the standardization matter, the ALA formed a committee that quickly recommended the 2-by-5-inch (5 cm × 13 cm) "Harvard College-size" cards as used at Harvard and the Boston Athenaeum. However, in the same report, the committee also suggested that a larger card, approximately 3 by 5 inches (8 cm × 13 cm), would be preferable. By the end of the nineteenth century, the bigger card won out, mainly to the fact that the 3-by-5-inch (8 cm × 13 cm) card was already the "postal size" used for postcards.
Melvil Dewey saw well beyond the importance of standardized cards and sought to outfit virtually all facets of library operations. To the end he established a Supplies Department as part of the ALA, later to become a stand-alone company renamed the Library Bureau. In one of its early distribution catalogs, the bureau pointed out that "no other business had been organized with the definite purpose of supplying libraries". With a focus on machine-cut index cards and the trays and cabinets to contain them, the Library Bureau became a veritable furniture store, selling tables, chairs, shelves and display cases, as well as date stamps, newspaper holders, hole punchers, paper weights, and virtually anything else a library could possibly need. With this one-stop shopping service, Dewey left an enduring mark on libraries across the country. Uniformity spread from library to library.
Dewey and others devised a system where books were organized by subject, then alphabetized based on the author's name. Each book was assigned a call number which identified the subject and location, with a decimal point dividing different sections of the call number. The call number on the card matched a number written on the spine of each book. In 1860, Ezra Abbot began designing a card catalog that was easily accessible and secure for keeping the cards in order; he managed this by placing the cards on edge between two wooden blocks. He published his findings in the annual report of the library for 1863 and they were adopted by many American libraries.
Work on the catalog began in 1862 and within the first year, 35,762 catalog cards had been created. Catalog cards were 2 by 5 inches (5 cm × 13 cm); the Harvard College size. One of the first acts of the newly formed American Library Association in 1908 was to set standards for the size of the cards used in American libraries, thus making their manufacture and the manufacture of cabinets, uniform. OCLC, major supplier of catalog cards, printed the last one in October 2015.
During the early modern period, libraries were organized through the direction of the librarian in charge. There was no universal method, so some books were organized by language or book material, for example, but most scholarly libraries had recognizable categories (like philosophy, saints, mathematics). The first library to list titles alphabetically under each subject was the Sorbonne library in Paris. Library catalogs originated as manuscript lists, arranged by format (folio, quarto, etc.) or in a rough alphabetical arrangement by author. Before printing, librarians had to enter new acquisitions into the margins of the catalog list until a new one was created. Because of the nature of creating texts at this time, most catalogs were not able to keep up with new acquisitions.
When the printing press became well-established, strict cataloging became necessary because of the influx of printed materials. Printed catalogs, sometimes called dictionary catalogs, began to be published in the early modern period and enabled scholars outside a library to gain an idea of its contents. Copies of these in the library itself would sometimes be interleaved with blank leaves on which additions could be recorded, or bound as guardbooks in which slips of paper were bound in for new entries. Slips could also be kept loose in cardboard or tin boxes, stored on shelves. The first card catalogs appeared in the late 19th century after the standardization of the 5 in. x 3 in. card for personal filing systems, enabling much more flexibility, and towards the end of the 20th century the online public access catalog was developed (see below). These gradually became more common as some libraries progressively abandoned such other catalog formats as paper slips (either loose or in sheaf catalog form), and guardbooks. The beginning of the Library of Congress's catalog card service in 1911 led to the use of these cards in the majority of American libraries. An equivalent scheme in the United Kingdom was operated by the British National Bibliography from 1956 and was subscribed to by many public and other libraries.
For some works, even the title can be standardized. The technical term for this is uniform title. For example, translations and re-editions are sometimes sorted under their original title. In many catalogs, parts of the Bible are sorted under the standard name of the book(s) they contain. The plays of William Shakespeare are another frequently cited example of the role played by a uniform title in the library catalog.
In a subject catalog, one has to decide on which classification system to use. The cataloger will select appropriate subject headings for the bibliographic item and a unique classification number (sometimes known as a "call number") which is used not only for identification but also for the purposes of shelving, placing items with similar subjects near one another, which aids in browsing by library users, who are thus often able to take advantage of serendipity in their search process.
Whether cataloging a small home library or a sizable archive, catalog cards can be used to organize any collection. Completing the cards is simple, using a few pieces of standard information. Most of the details included on a catalog card can usually be found in the book itself within the first few pages and on the cover. Once the catalog is complete, users can easily find what they need.
The library call number refers to an item's location within the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) or the Library of Congress Classification (LCC). The two systems were created to categorize items by subject and then break them down into subheadings -- mammals to dogs to bloodhounds, for example. The Dewey system is organized numerically into 10 subjects and then subdivided using decimal notation. Library of Congress notation is more complex, using both letters and numbers to differentiate topics and subtopics. On your catalog card, write the call number in the top left-hand corner.
Today, most public and university libraries have digitized their collection catalogs to make them remotely accessible from anywhere in the world. Library patrons can search for and download electronic media like videos, music and electronic books directly from a library website to their home computer. However, long-time library users and book collectors are occasionally more comfortable using card catalogs, so individual libraries -- including the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and some smaller-town and school libraries -- continue to keep card catalogs alongside their digital catalogs.
2) Main entry and added entries: AACR2 also contains rules for determining "access points" to the record (usually referred to as the "main entry" and "other added entries"), and the form these access points should take. Access points are the retrieval points in the library catalog where patrons should be able to look up the item. 2b1af7f3a8