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Cataloging Tools and Resources: Home

Overview of standards underlying library cataloging, with links to sources for the tools.

ALA Library Fact Sheet 18

Elements of Cataloging and Classification

To "catalog" a book or other form of library material involves several interrelated processes which all contribute to the achievement of Charles Ammi Cutter's "objects" for a catalog:

  • To enable a person to find a book of which the author, title, or subject is known
  • To show what the library has by a given author, on a given subject, or in a given kind of literature, and
  • To assist in the choice of a book.

(Adapted Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalogue, by Charles Ammi Cutter, 4th ed., 1904, p. 12.)

Thus, catalogers prepare a description of an item, assign subject headings, determine a shelf location using a classification system, provide a link to the electronic item, if appropriate, and code that information with both MARC tags or metadata so that it may be displayed in local online catalogs and, if the library catalogs with OCLC, in WorldCat. Each element of the cataloging process is addressed in other tabs of this Guide, along with sources for the cataloging tools needed.

Key Resources

Librarian

Karen Muller
Contact:
ALA Library
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433 x5031