by S Lubetzky · 1969 · Cited by 66 — The Author and Title Catalog in the Library; Its. Role, Function, and Objectives; Report 2 of a Series on the Principles of Cataloging. California Univ., Los Angeles
20 pages

158 KB – 20 Pages

PAGE – 1 ============
ED 05 8 909AUTHORTITLEINSTITUTIONSPONS AGENCYREPORT NOPUB DATEGRANTNOTEEDRS PRICEDESCRIPTORSDOCUMENT RESUMELI 003 415Lubetzky, SeymourThe Author and Title Catalog in the Library; ItsRole, Function, and Objectives; Report 2 of a Serieson the Principles of Cataloging.California Univ., Los Angeles. Inst. of LibraryResearch.Office of Education (DHEW), Washington, D.C.0E-4284Jan 69OEG-1-7-071089-428419p.;(20 References)MF-$0.65 HC-$3.29*Cataloging; *Catalogs; Information Processing;*Information Retrieval; *Information Storage;LibraryMaterials; *Library Technical ProcessesABSTRACTIn setting out to design a systemof cataloging, orto evaluate a given system, or to apply asystem in effect, it isnecessary to begin with aclarification of the ends which the productof cataloging – that is, the catalog -is to serve in the library. Tocontribute to an understanding of these ends, thepresent studyconsiders the role of the catalog in relation tothe library’soperations and services, the function ofthe catalog as it hasevolved over the past century, and thespecific objectives which thecatalog has come to serve in view of itsrole and function in thelibrary. (Author)

PAGE – 2 ============

PAGE – 3 ============
ABSTRACTIn setting out to design a system of cataloging, or to evaluatea given system, or to apply a system in effect, it is necessary tobegin with a clarification of the ends which the product of catalog-ingi.e., the catalog – is to serve in the library.To contributeto an understanding of these ends, the present study considers therole of the catalog in relation to the library’s operations andservices, the function of the catalog as it has evolved over thepast century, and the specific objectives which the catalog has cometo serve in view of its role and function in the library.Acknowledgement is gratefully made of the assistance ofMrs.Nancy Braultof the Institute of Library Research, University of California, in the prepara-tion of this report.2

PAGE – 4 ============
THE AUTHOR AND TITLE CATALOG IN THE LIBRARYThe instruments of descriptive – or bibliographic – cataloging are gener-ally found in the form of “Rules” or “Instructions” Prescribing how the mate-rials of a library should be “entered” and “described” so as to form a well-integrated and efficient catalog.These rules are necessary and important forthree reasons:(1) to expedite the work of cataloging- by praviding for thecataloger really directions to follow; (2) to insure uniformity and consistencyin the treatment of library materials – without which the catalog would tendto became increasingly chacybic and confusing; and (3) to facilitate biblio-graphic cooperation among libraries – and thus serve the cause of bibliographicand cataloging economy.But the very importance of these rules and of theirdbservance tends to divert attention from the ends which they must be designedto serve and in light of which they must be interpreted, evaluated, and changedas may be required.To realize what these ends are to be, it is necessary toconsider the role of the catalog in the library’s operations and services, thegeneral function of the catalog in context of the library’s functions, and thespecific objectives which the catalog is to serve in view of its role andfumtion in the library.The Role of the Catalog in the Library.The library has inspired manyeloquent metaphors exalting its mission and importance.It has been describedas the custodian of”the diary of the human race,” “the shrine of man’s intel-lect and wisdam,” “the true university of thesedays,” “a sanatorium of themind,” and. more recently, in a contemporary idiom, as “the brain bank of thenation.”The tributes have come from men in all walks of life, including thelate President Kenneay who regarded the library as”the key to progress andthe advancement of knowledge.It is no doubt all of this.It has come toserve people of all ages and levels ofeducation – as children’s libraries,

PAGE – 5 ============
school libraries, college and university libraries; of various interests – asart libraries, law libraries, medical libraries, music libraries, technolog-ical libraries; of various areas – as local public libraries, county libraries,state libraries, regional libraries, national libraries; and of any combinationof interests – as county law libraries, national agricultural and medical li-braries.These libraries may differ also in other respects, including thekinds of services offered by them; but they all have in common the three basicfunctions of a library:the selection and acquisition of the nmterials re-quired by their users, the preparation of catalogs of the materials acquired,and the pravision of assistance in their use.The first of these functions, which is fundamental to the essence of alibrary, involves (a) examination of announcements and of records of ptiblica-tions – including publishers’, dealers’ and other catalogs and bibliographies -and of the requests and suggestions of users, for desirable or needed mate-rials; (b) searching of the library’s catalog to determine whether or not thematerials selected, or any other editions or translations of the warks, arealready in the library; and (c) ordering the materials selected which are notin the library in accordance with governing policies.Thus the first functionof the library – the development of its calections – depends on itscatalog,and the effectiveness of the catalog will affect that of the processof ac-quisition.An ineffective or unreliable catalog will take more time to searchand may lead to costly duplication in purchasing andprocessing of materialsalready in the library.If the first function is fundamental, the second -i.e., cataloging – iscentral to all the operations and services of the library.The role of thecatalog in the process of acquisition has just beennoted.The process ofcataloging itself depends no less on the condition ofthe catalog into whichthe results of the cataloging process are tobe incorporated.For the catalog-24

PAGE – 6 ============
is not, or should not be, merely an aggregation of freely produced entries okimdividual books and other items, as is sometimes assumed even by people whomight be expected to know, better, but a systematically designed instrument inwhich all entries, as component parts, must be properly integrated.Thus thecatalog, embodying previous cataloging decisions, is at once both the resultas well as an important tool of cataloging, and aneffective catalog is as es-sential to the process of cataloging as it is to the process ofacquisition.The third function of the library – the provision of assistancein itsuse – depends more dbviously than theother two functions on the effectivenessof the catalog.The assistance required normally involves the locationofcertain books, authors, or sources of information.These questions are simi-lar in character to those arising in the processesof acquisition and catalog-ing, and the answers sought will similarly be affected bythe condition of thecatalog.The more effective the catalog – the more intelligibleand responsiveit is – the more frequently and readily will it yieldthe desired ansvers,either directly to the library’s users or to thestaff assisting them, thussaving doubly the time of thelibrary’s staff and users.The c:itical importance of the catalogfor those who administer as wellas those who use thelibrary has led Thomas Carlyle, as a library user,totestify that “A library is not wortharrything without a catalogue – it is aPolyphemus without any eye in his head -and you must front the difficulties,whatever they may be, of making propercatalogues;”2and Ralph R. Shaw, as alibrarian, to characterize the catalog as”that backbone of the library.113Inview of this role of the cabalog, oneis well advised to be wary ofcertainII economies”or “shortcuts” in its construction which are calculatedto impairits effectiveness and thereby alsothe effectiveness of all the operationsandservices depending on it.Such economies may not only beoffset by increasedcosts in the other operationsand services of the library,but may also be

PAGE – 8 ============
A Quarter of a millennium later–in 1847-1849when, by an unusualco-incidence of men and events, cataloging became a national issue and no lessthan a Royal Commission was appointed to hold public hearings on the catalog-ing rules adopted by Antonio Panizzi for the library of the British Museum,5the contest between what might be called the conservatives and the progressivesin cataloging of that time again revolved largely around particular catalogingquestions–such as whether a nobleman should be entered in the catalog underhis family name or his title, the entry of anonymous publications, the treat-ment of periodical publications, and so on–but inevitably involved also thebasic issue of the general function of the catalog.The conservative criticsof the new rules maintained that all that was needed was a simple “finding-catalogue”–the meaning of which was reflected in Carlyle’s assertion:”Thegrand use of any catalogue is, to tell you, in any intelligible way, that suchand such books are in the library.I should expect it to be a simplething enough to draw up a simple list of the names of the books”6However,the progressive defenders of the new rules, and particularly Panizzi himself,were able to demonstrate spectacularly the simplism of their eminentcritics’notions of the problom of cataloging-or, in Panizzi’s words, “that the delusionswhich exist in the public mind with regard to the ease with which a completecatalogue maybe made are wild and ludicrous;Land the need of “a full and ac-curate catalogue.n7But the essential difference between the “finding-catalogue”and the “full and acc4rate catalogue” remained vague and elusive.It was noteasy to conceive of a”finding-catalogue” which vas not “full and accurate,”or of “a full and accuratecatalogue” which was not also a “finding-catalogue.”And a decade later Edward Edwards, reflecting on this discussion, commented:”But if there is to be any hope of general agreement as to what sort of cata-logues may reasonably be termed ‘proper,we must try to set out with someclear and definite conceptions of the purposes which such caimlogues areintended7

PAGE – 9 ============
to subserveAny one whose curiositymay induce him to ‘read up’ the dis-cussion, will meet very.frequently, witha new phrase–that of ‘finding-catalogue’–which, at the first blush,looks like a definition, buton closerscrutiny will prdbably be found of smallhelp in the inquiry.In some sense,indeed, all catalogues must be ‘finding’catalogues, or they are worthless, butthe character of the catalogue which, (in that sense),merits the name will de-pend on the subject v.’ the search.”8The wisdom of Edwards’s advice strucka sympathetic chord in the mind ofa young and eager cataloging apprentice, Charles A. Cutter,who was destinedto dominate Anglo-American cataloging thoughtin the last quarter of thatcentury, and whose influence continued strongly inthe half century that fol-lowed.Reviewing later the cataloging works of his day, Cutternoted criticallythat they had not “attempted to set forth the rules ina systematic way or toinvestigate what might be called the first principlesof cataloging,9and hisown rules began, as Edwards counseled, with a definition of thepurposes whichthe catalog was to serve.The purposes, or “Objects,” formulated by Cutter were:”1.To enable a person to find a book of which either(A)the author(B)the titleis known.(C)the subject2.To show what the library has(D)by a given author(E)on a given subject(F)in a given kind of literature.3.To assist in the choice of a book(G)as to its edition (bibliographically)(H)as to its character (literary or topical).1110Cutter held steadfast to these “Objects,” repeating them at the beginning of68

PAGE – 10 ============
each of the three subsequent editionsof his Rules, with a somewhat causticfootnote:”This statement of Objects has been criticized; but as it hasalso been frequently quoted, usually without changeor credit, in the prefacesof catalogues and elsewhere, I suppose it hason the whole been approved.”However, the Anglo-American Catalog Rules of 1908, which succeeded andwerebased on Cutter’s Rules, omitted the “Objects,” and they havenever since beenreinstated.The issue of what was to be the general function of the catalog in thelibrary had, however, not been quite disposed of and was to emerge again.Thisoccurred in the early 1930’s when the 1908 Rules became ripe for revisjon andAmerican libraries, in the throes of general economic stress, were driven tosearch for further economies in their operations and services.Cataloging,being the least understood and most criticized (not altogether without reason)library operation, naturally became a ready target of economy, and the ensuingargument, involving again the issue of the basic function of the catalog,echoed that of nearly a hundred years earlier, with “finding list” and “refer-ence tool” slogans used in lieu of the earlier “finding-catalogue” and “fulland accurate catalogue.”The advocates of economy in cataloging argued, liketheir predecessors, that the function of the catalog was to be merely that ofa brief and simple “finding list”–to help one find a book in the library–andthat everything that was not necessary for that purpose should be expunged fromcataloging.The sentiment for stringent economy was expressed in a demandthat:”Practices with no stronger claim to continuance thnn that of traditionshould be brushed aside.Academic precision that serves no better purpose thanrendering homage to the god of completeness should be laid away.1,11On theother hand, the opponents of retrenchment in cataloging argued that “There is12nothing on the catalog card that is not used by someone at some time,11that”The catalog is the most important reference tool in the library,” and thatr7 9

PAGE – 11 ============
economies in cataloging will only entailincreased reference costs and reducedservices which together will more than offset thesavings sought.To illustratethe reference use of the catalog, the ReferenceLibrarian of the Columbia Uni-versity Libraries related how she hadonce observed a reader “almost wearing apath from his seat in the referenceroom to the card catalog.”Upon investiga-tion, she found that he was using the catalog tolocate, not books, but the datesof authors, which he needed to know in connection withan examination for whichhe was studying.Even more interesting was her story abouta telephone callshe once received requesting her to check the catalog tofind whether Columbiahad a certain book in an edition less than 15 centimeters inheight.The caller,it turned out, was a literary editor engaged in reading themanuscript of a novelsubmitted for publication.At one point in the novel, the hero, whowas repre-sented as reading a well-known work, was interrupted and hastily put the bookin his pocket.The editor was curious to know whether the author of themanu-script was careful about his facts and wanted to verify whether that workwaspublished in a pocket-size edition.Again, the caller did not want the book it-self, he only wanted the information about the book, and the Reference Librarianwas able to supply him the needed information instantly thanks to the complete-ness of thecatalog.13Another Reference Librarian, of the University of ChicagoLibraries, went further in asserting without qualification that “The card catalogis one of the richest and fullest reference tools that the reader can use,” in-deed, the “key to all knowledge,” and went on to praise the catalogers’ pains-taking in supplying obscure bits of information:”In some mysterious way themembers of the catalog departments of our great libraries are splendid sleuthsand can unearth and put on catalog cards for the use of future generations suchpersonal items as middle names, former and present husbands’ names or degreesof royal rank.Even though the person concerned hoped to keep the date Of hisbirth from being broadcast to the worldthese cataloging eLiperts can usually

158 KB – 20 Pages