My concern in this paper here is the general state of the main issues of cataloguing practice in the 1990’s. The topic issued is the sharing cataloguing systems which now spreads and makes possible various functions in libraries worldwide. However, this paper will deal with this issue by looking at some aspects of standardisation and then talking about the trends bibliographic networks.


One the earliest catalogues was that of a collection of books given by Gregory the Great to the Church of St Clement in Rome in the eighth century AD, was written in the form of prayer. Alcuin’s metrical catalogue produced for the monastic library at York is the only catalogue known to have been written in verse (Hunter and Backewell, 1979 : 26) The demand to give locations of books was not respected until the fourteenth century and the alphabetical arrangement did not become generally used until the sixteenth century. Even though there were some efforts to standardise of cataloguing methods as those by Concrad Gesner (1548) and John Durie (1650) catalogues mostly fuctioned to list stock rather than to gain books or bibliographical functions.

The first national cataloguing code was the French code of 1791, and was a result of the French revolution. This was characterised by a compulsory author entry, defining the form of the card catalogue and also covering rules for accessing and guiding. Panizzi with his publication ’91 Rules’ in 1839 improved the cataloguing code which may be supposed the first modern catalogue. Panizzi’s 91 Rules lead to the Anglo-American code of 1908, or, ALA code of 1941 and 1949, or, AACR of 1967, 1978, and 1988 (revised edition). MARC format, what we known today for online cataloguing, would not have been possible without the international acceptance of a standard code of cataloguing rules, e.g. AACR.


Automation offers individual library the opportunity to develop its function throughout the world, which has been termed ‘international cooperation’. This cooperation has such functions as the following : creation and maintenance of the national union catalogue, coordination of national services, international exchange of publication, coordination the acquisition policy, realisation of the automation of documentation and creation of new technology. To achieve these functions an individual library needs the international cataloguing standard or formats, powerful computer networks with bibliographic utility and highly trained cataloguing specialists, programmers, and so on.

The reason for standardisation is that – along with the benefits of accessing catalogue records from the bibliographic utility – any member of a network has the responsibility to maintain the integrity of the database. Any record contributed to database does not exclusively belong to individual library and, therefore, must be kept in agreeing standard for accuracy, completeness, and ease of retrieval and access.

When the automation of processing library materials began over two decades ago there were in libraries only a few standards concerning the application of electronic data processing which were implemented self-made systems and had their own programming. The first efforts were to create standards in technical domain, e.q. coding and exchange of electronic signals, or, data formats. The further attempts, however, were joint products of : the individual library, the great institution such as the Library of Congress, university libraries, and commercial vendors companies which were interested in developing libraries. The move toward international standardisation of cataloguing code and practices – as exemplified in manuals, the ISBD (International Standard Bibliographic Description) change – means that cataloguers have to be aware of the development of this standard. The trend towards a common approach to standardised ways is to use the already overwhelming and growing commercial databases in the market.

There are seven layers of standardisation for a union catalogue (Schawarz, 1992 : 57-60), e.q. :

Data carrier and data transfer. When a national library starts cataloguing automation, this library receivs bibliographic and data holding from regional libraries on various data carriers : worksheets, punched paper tapes, magnetic tapes of various sizes. It is thus necessary to convert them to mainframe machine.

Character coding. The need keyboard with international reference.

Character sets. Standardisation of character sets is very important, because database includes files in all language, and edits in a amount of different scripts.

Cataloguing rules. Libraries should adapt international cataloguing rules.

Data format Data format depends on the cataloguing rules, most libraries use MARC formats.

Common agreement about rules and formats In a union catalogue, any library must have a very detailed agreement on, and instructions for, all data fields. Even though libraries have rules and a sufficient format, there will remain doubts about how to handle certain fields for the serials cataloguing practice, such as how subsequent publishers and places of publication of one serial should be recorded, how irregular publication should be indicated, etc.

Authority control. This means standardisation of names of authors, corporate bodies and uniform titles. In a union cataloguing of serials, for example, mainly the heading of corporate bodies are concerned. Serials Database is very strict in authority control, because the file for corporate bodies is entirely under the responsibility of a group of specialists. That is why all entries for names of corporate bodies have to be sent on worksheets to the database and are keyboarded after bibliographic control by that group.

The MARC Formats for Bibliographic Data are a series of rules for coding bibliographic data into a form that can be understood and used in a computer. (Intner and Weihs, 1990 : 157) The MARC formats are also called communication formats by which it is meant that data in this form can be transfered by one computer to another. This format was primarily designed by the Library of Congress and reflects the need to catalogue products and processes. By bibliographic data is meant all of the elements of a bibliographic records : bibliographic descriptions, access points, subject headings, and classification numbers.


One of the future trendy of cataloguing library materials in the 1990’s is the more powerful features of Bibliographic Networks. A bibliographic network is a network consisting of a central computer system with a large database of catalogue records linked by telecommunications facilities to libraries. (Kerry Webb, 1991 : 32) As many other networks, it has the same common attraction to its users. Distant users can require access to the data and processing functions of the host computer. The most interesting aspects of the bibliographic network to librarians is the huge amount of the database required for library applications and the various ways of processing this data.

A general service in bibliographic networks is the sharing functions of cataloguing, or, online cataloguing. Evidence of this success was the introdution of online cataloguing by a bibliographic utility, such as RLIN (the Research Libraries Information Network), OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), UTLAS (the University of Toronto Library Automation System), and WLN (the Western Library Network). A cataloguer can make catalogues for specific items by accessing from the host computer which contains millions of records contributed such as by the Library of Congress or the British Library or other members of Networks. If the cataloguer finds records for such items, he can choose to accept them and command the system to produce particular products, such as card catalogue sets, microfiche, magnetic tape records and indexes. At the same time, the holdings data of the cataloguer’s library is generated on the database which is then to be a union catalogue to function for all clients of networks. If the records are not presented in the database or he may not accept the standard of cataloguing recorded, new records and holdings information for the items can be added to the system. The common term for these practices is ‘copy cataloguing’.

Copy cataloguing is a method of cataloguing library materials by which a source record is copied as found or edited instead of creating a new record (Intner and Weihs, 1990 : 170). Simply stated, the purpose of copy cataloguing is to provide bibliographic access to books and other library materials and to get those materials to the shelves to be available for use promptly. (Leonhardt, 1992 : 134)

New technology and system in cataloguing capability influence thinking on the organisational structure of the library. The online catalogue has made it possible from any branch library to access the complete holdings of the other libraries’ catalogue via a remote terminal. Thus, suggestion for the centralising of library operations may now be reconsidered.

It seems as if traditional cataloguing for an item is being replaced by more efficient ways of retrieving and verifying existing millions of bibliographic records. However, the individual cataloguer is still required to perform thoughtful accurate work. All cataloguers concerned with an online bibliographic networks should also have to verify their own copy of any bibliographic record which may contain errors or may not be suitable for their institution. Or in other words, an individual cataloguer of a local library which contributes to the central bibliographic system should input data for items carefully. Any mistake means that other members of networks suffer.


The technology and systems used in cataloguing library materials have been gradually growing. It is clear that successful Bibliographic Networks for cataloguing cannot be separated form the history of cataloguing itself. Bibliographic Networks enable the cataloguer to access and retrieve libraries’ databases the worldwide, which makes it possible for a library to perform more functions.



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