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a list of the published works held by a library. Library catalogs serve to indicate a library’s holdings, to help readers select books, and to guide reading in accordance with the ideological-political and cultural-educational aims of the library. The great range of subjects treated in published works, the diversity of the publications making up a library’s holdings, and the varied needs of readers necessitate the creation of a complex system of catalogs differing in purpose and structure. The compilation of various types of catalogs is the subject of the science of cataloging. The elaboration of the theoretical and methodological questions of compiling catalogs is one of the basic tasks of library science.
According to their purpose, catalogs are divided into readers’ catalogs, for general reference, and staff catalogs, which also include rarely used and obsolete works. According to the grouping of the material, there are systematic, subject, alphabetical, and numerical catalogs. Systematic catalogs group entries for published works by sections of the various branches of knowledge, following the classification system used in the library. Subject catalogs are descriptions of holdings arranged not in terms of branches of knowledge but rather according to the alphabetical order of the subjects (phenomena, concepts, or objects) of the works. The entries for published works in alphabetical catalogs are arranged in alphabetical order by the last name of the author or by title (if a description has been classified by title). Catalogs cover various types of published works, including books, periodicals, maps, musical scores, graphic arts, standards, patents, and certificates of invention. Patents and certificates of invention, in particular, are described in numerical catalogs, in which entries are arranged according to special numbers that have been assigned to the given publications.
Systematic and alphabetical catalogs are required for all Soviet libraries, as well as card indexes of newspaper and journal articles, which are normally compiled according to branch of knowledge. Subject catalogs are used in scientific and special libraries. In republic, krai, and oblast libraries, there are also local press catalogs and catalogs for the literature and various other types of materials relating to the given republic, krai, or oblast, known as local-lore catalogs.
In large libraries, besides main catalogs, giving the holdings of the entire library, catalogs of the holdings of the library’s various divisions may be compiled. If a library has branches, it is often necessary to have a central catalog—a unified catalog of the holdings of the library and all its branches. Joint catalogs, which have become especially important with the broadening of libraries’ functions as sources of bibliographical information and the development of interlibrary loans, describe the holdings of several independent libraries and are often compiled on the basis of territorial subdivisions or branches of knowledge. Catalogs of recommended literature for various types of libraries, such as district, rural, or children’s libraries, are called model catalogs.
Catalogs may be kept in the form of card files, books, or loose-leaf notebooks with easily inserted pages. Card catalogs, which facilitate prompt changes and additions, are used most widely. Printed catalogs have the advantage of being easy to read and usable outside the library, which makes them particularly convenient as model or joint catalogs.
Z. N. AMBARTSUMIAN