A modern library provides a number of facilities to its readers for making use of its collection. One such facility is the catalogue of the library which facilitates the readers to know what documents the library has, where they are located on library shelves, and how to access them. In this section, we shall discuss the definition, objectives and functions of a library catalogue.
Definitions The word `catalogue' has been derived from the Greek expression `kata logos'. It means a list, register or complete enumeration of something. It has now come to mean a list of somethings, systematically arranged in alphabetical or other order, often with brief description of items listed. For example: A catalogue of items of furniture for sale in an auction; a catalogue of different kinds of pumps manufactured by a particular company.
The New English Dictionary
defines a catalogue as follows: 'A catalogue is usually distinguished from a mere list or enumeration by systematic or methodic arrangement, alphabetical or other order and often by the addition of brief particulars, descriptive or aiding identification, indicative of locality, position, date, price or the like'.
In the context of a library, a catalogue is a list of books and other documents of a particular library. This list is arranged according to a definite order, containing specific bibliographic data for the purpose of identification and location of the documents catalogued.
A formal definition of a library catalogue is that it is an explanatory, logically arranged inventory and key to the documents and their contents and it is confined to the documents of a particular library. It the catalogue represents the collection of two or more libraries, the catalogue is termed as union catalogue.
Harrod's librarians' glossary and reference book 6th edition, has defined catalogue as `a list of books, maps, or other items, arranged in definite order. It records, describes and indexes (usually completely) the resources of a collection, a library or a group of libraries. Each entry bears details of class number or call number to enable the item to he found (on the shelves of the library), as well as sufficient details (such as author, title, editorship, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, edition pages, illustrations) to identify and describe a book. To be distinguished from (1) a list, which may or may not be in any particular order and may be incomplete, and (2) a bibliography, which may not be confined to any one collection of books or to a particular group of libraries'. ‘To catalogue’ means to compile a list of documents according to a set of rules (i.e., according to a catalogue code) so as to enable the reader to know what items (documents) are available in the library, and where this document can be found on the shelves of the library with the help of the class number, call number or other means of identification given in the catalogue entry.
In short, a library catalogue:
a) is a list of books and other reading materials available in a particular library;
b) contains entries prepared for all the documents according to rules prescribed
c) catalogue code and organised in a systematic order; gives bibliographical information of the documents such as author, title, edition, place of publication, publisher, date of publication in each entry in order to describe and identify the document;
d) gives location number of the document, such as call number of *the document in order to locate the document on the shelves of the library.