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The Library Cataloging Tradition. Dewey, Ranganathan, Avram, and others. From the beginning . The traditional catalog and its boundaries How catalogs have evolved Forming the mind of a cataloger: library standards Library metadata (MARC). The Boundaries of the Traditional Catalog. Books

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the library cataloging tradition

The Library Cataloging Tradition

Dewey, Ranganathan, Avram, and others

from the beginning
From the beginning ...
  • The traditional catalog and its boundaries
  • How catalogs have evolved
  • Forming the mind of a cataloger: library standards
  • Library metadata (MARC)
the boundaries of the traditional catalog
The Boundaries of the Traditional Catalog
  • Books
  • Serials/Journals at the title level
    • Article level access left to commercial services
  • Archival collections at the collection level
    • Sub-collections and individual items described in finding aids
  • “Funny Formats” not always integrated or traditionally cataloged
evolution of the catalog
Evolution of “The Catalog”
  • Book catalogs
  • Card catalogs
  • Union catalogs
  • Union lists
  • Online catalogs
  • Bibliographic utilities
the card catalog lives on
The Card Catalog lives on ...
  • LC card distribution begins in 1890s
  • MARC developed (by Henriette Avram) at LC in the 1960s
  • OCLC (first bibliographic utility using MARC) in the early 1970s
  • AACR2 (takes effect in 1981) pushes libraries into the online catalog era
and on
... and on
  • MARC Format Integration prepares MARC for rational extension
  • Second (third?) generation library management systems bring on web-based catalogs in 1990s
  • AACR2 and MARC extended to remote resources in mid-1990s
  • Metadata other than MARC begins to filter into libraries
from cutter and his objects
From Cutter and his “Objects”

To enable a person to find a book of which either

  • the author, the title, the subject is known

To show what the library has

  • by a given author, on a given subject, in a given kind of literature

To assist in the choice of a book

  • as to its edition (bibliographically), as to its character (literary or topical)
to the functional requirements for bibliographic records
To the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records
  • Description (FRBR: identify, select)
  • Access (FRBR: find)
    • Subject access
      • headings
      • classification
    • Other access points
  • Holdings (FRBR: obtain)
  • Cutter’s Rules (1875)
  • Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (1967)
  • Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed. (1978)
    • Includes International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD-M)
  • Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed., 1988 revision (1988- )
description access
Description & Access
  • AACR2 divided into two major parts:
    • Description
      • Organized by format, with specific rules for describing each type of materials
    • Headings, Uniform Titles, and References
      • Choice of access points
      • Headings for persons, geographic names, corporate bodies, etc.
      • References to guide readers to the correct heading
subject analysis the third leg
Subject Analysis, the third leg
  • Can be either term based (generally alphabetically arranged), or classification (arranged by topic)
  • These two approaches can be combined
  • US research libraries generally use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Classification (LCC)
ranganathan and colon classification
Ranganathan and Colon Classification
  • S. R. Ranganathan
    • developed classification scheme in the 1930’s (Colon Classification System) based on the notion of “facets”
    • 42 main classes
    • subdivides each main class by particular characteristics into facets, which are then combined to make subordinate classes as needed
    • Art & Architecture Thesaurus and PRECIS based on this model (so is Yahoo, to some extent)
dewey classification
Dewey Classification
  • Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) first published in 1876 by Melvil Dewey
  • Most widely used classification system in the world (used in 135 countries)
  • In this country used primarily by public and school libraries
  • Maintained by the Library of Congress
dewey continued
Dewey, continued
  • DDC is divided into ten main classes, then ten divisions, each division into ten sections
  • The first digit in each three-digit number represents the main class.
    • “500” = natural sciences and mathematics.
  • The second digit in each three-digit number indicates the division.
    • “500” is used for general works on the sciences
    • “510” for mathematics
    • “520” for astronomy
    • “530” for physics
more dewey
More Dewey
  • The third digit in each three-digit number indicates the section.
    • “530”is used for general works on physics
    • “531” for classical mechanics
    • “532” for fluid mechanics
    • “533” for gas mechanics
  • A decimal point follows the third digit in a class number, after which division by ten continues to the specific degree of classification needed.
library of congress subjects
Library of Congress Subjects
  • Essentially an artificial indexing language
  • Based on literary warrant
  • Entry vocabulary provided in the form of reference structure
  • Moving slowly towards a real thesaurus structure (not there yet)
  • Not faceted—subdivisions pre-selected, based on individual heading or “pattern” heading
lcsh example
LCSH Example
  • Digital libraries
    • see from “Electronic libraries”
    • see from “Virtual libraries”
    • see broader term: “Libraries”
    • see also “Information storage and retrieval systems”
library of congress classification
Library of Congress Classification
  • 21 basic classes, based on single alphabetic character (K=law, N=art, etc.)
  • Subdivided into two or three alpha characters (KF=American Law, ND=painting, etc.)
  • Further subdivision by specific numeric assignment
  • Author numbers and dates arrange works by a particular author together and in chronological order
lcc example in marc classification format
LCC example (in MARC classification format)
  • 153##$aQL638.E55$hZoology$hChordates. Vertebrates$hFishes$hSystematic divisions$hOsteichthys (Bony fishes). By family, A-Z$hFamilies$jEngraulidae (Anchovies)
    • $a = Classification number--single number or beginning number of span (R)
    • $h = Caption hierarchy
    • $j = Caption (lowest level, relating to the specific number in $a)
marc formats bibliographic
MARC Formats (Bibliographic)
  • Books
  • Serials
  • Maps
  • Visual materials
  • Sound recordings
  • Computer files
  • Archives and manuscripts
marc formats other
MARC Formats (Other)
  • Authorities
  • Holdings
  • Classification
  • Community Information

Control fields (00X)

Number & code fields (0XX)

Access point (1XX = main entry)

Title, publisher, etc. (2XX)

Physical description (3XX)

Series (4XX)

Notes (5XX)

Subject headings (6XX)

Local fields (9XX)


Authorized heading


Source where data found


Authorized heading


Treatment codes

Source where data found


LC Classification

Authorized heading (topic)

See also ref.

See also from (broader)

See also from (related)

Information in other headings


Heading (name)

Heading (series)

Heading (subject)

Classification (subject)



(paper version)



(digital version)







traditional library digital libraries
Traditional library  digital libraries?
  • MARC and AACR2 categorizations by physical format break down for digital resources
  • MARC Format Integration (early 1980s) an attempt to resolve some “content v. carrier” problems
  • Efforts to integrate digital materials ongoing
david levy asks
David Levy asks:
  • What will be cataloged?
  • What will catalogs look like?
  • Who will build and maintain them?
  • How will these new catalogs relate to old standards?
  • Another question: What can be re-purposed from the old order?