Early Stage - Evolution of catalogue - library catalogue code:
Some such methods though primitive, existed almost until the time the manuscripts came to end and ceased to be the primary vehicles of communication. The discovery of Assyro-Babylonian clay tablets, the wall inscriptions at Edfu and the extant remnants of the papyrus rolls of the Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations testify this fact. The catalogues and the materials they listed, both were in primal forms (clay tablets, inscriptions and papyrus rolls). From the archaeological finds of the Assyro-Babylonian clay tablets (1668-626 B.C.), the antiquity of the library catalogue can be easily placed around 2000 B.C. These tablets were similar to press guides with bibliographic data, such as title (occasionally, with opening words), number of tablets constituting a work, number of lines on a tablet, distinct subdivisions and location marks inscribed on them. They served as simple location devices. However, all such primal forms were not verily catalogues.
This system with no change continued to exist well into the first seven centuries of the Christian era. The fall of the Roman empire in the 6th century brought about a deliberate destruction and dispersal of the hitherto great collections of the private, public and temple libraries. The emergence of Christianity as the state religion in the 3rd century having already dealt a severe blow, the temple libraries began to disintegrate. Their place was now taken by the monastic libraries. As the major instruments of education in the middle ages (300 AD - 1100 AD) monasteries served the cause by collecting, producing and preserving the books useful in the learning by the clerics. The famous work, institutions of Cassiodorus (6th Century) was intended to serve as a scholarly model with an annotated guide to what was valuable reading of the times. The need of catalogue was not felt. Efforts were made later in compiling inventories. A list of books given by Gregory the Great in the 8th century AD to the church of St. Clements (Rome) was the earliest of the monastic library catalogues. It was a marble tablet with an introduction or prayer and a few biblical works inscribed on it. The catalogue of the monastic library of York composed by Alcuin in verse, which could be either a list of famous authors or a bibliography was the next. A third example is De Trinitate of St. Augustine, which too was a simple list of works transcribed on the flyleaf of a work.