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Module 1 cont: Organising tools.

Posted by arlekeno on July 12, 2012

Our organisation tool is the INDEX

in Libraries the CATALOGUE, in Archives the FINDING AIDS and in Museums the REGISTERS. All done by pro cataloguers.


This activity asks you to adapt Cutter’s Objectives for today’s libraries. Locate a copy of Charles Cutter’s Objectives. (These are widely reprinted. You could search for them on the web, or look in standard textbooks about organising information in libraries, or check encyclopedias of library and information studies.) Read and think about these Objectives. Note that they use the terms book and library. Rewrite these objectives so that they apply to the wide range of information resources currently available through libraries, museums and archives.

so lets cut and past Wikipedia, despite Alice Ferguson’s objection’s to the internet 😛

Charles Ammi Cutter made the first explicit statement regarding the objectives of a bibliographic system in his Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalog in 1876. According to Cutter, those objectives were

1. to enable a person to find a book of which either (Identifying objective)

  • the author
  • the title
  • the subject
  • the category

is known.

2. to show what the library has (Collocating objective)

  • by a given author
  • on a given subject
  • in a given kind of literature

3. to assist in the choice of a book (Evaluating objective)

  • as to its edition (bibliographically)
  • as to its character (literary or topical)

These objectives can still be recognized in more modern definitions formulated throughout the 20th century. 1960/61 Cutter’s objectives were revised by Lubetzky and the Conference on Cataloging Principles (CCP) in Paris. The latest attempt to describe a library catalog’s goals and functions was made in 1998 with Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) which defines four user tasks: find, identify, select, and obtain.

 I personally don’t think these objectives have changed a great deal, its just that we now say what form the resource is in (physichal, online or via interlibrary loan) and how that affects how it can be obtained. replace the Word book with resource and you are pretty right to go.

Study task

Briefly summarise the quote in your own words.

  • Do you agree with what it says? Why?
  • Do you disagree? Why?


Going back to Panizzi and Cutter, it has been axiomatic that bibliographic control was a matter of keeping track of, or inventorying, a specific physical object in a specific physical place. Today, those ‘objects’ are as likely as not to be in a variety of both physical and evanescent formats and in no specific physical place as we have been used to understanding these things. Given then that the physical nature of the work is increasingly meaningless or difficult to define, the focus should now shift to where it should have been in the first place – and indeed the focus from which the various Internet search engines derive their usefulness – and that is the intellectual content and substance of the work itself (Steven L. Hensen … in a post to the Diglib online discussion list. Quote of the Month, American Libraries, 32 (1, Jan 2001): 86.

I am not sure I do agree, specifically with that Cutter’s model was not concenred with the intellectual content. If you were using a methos such as Dewey, the books would be arranged in a manner relating to their subject, and in the catalogue is the subject headings. Yes, the Content and Substance is the heart of the matter, but because the books had to be physichally arranged and catalogued does not mean the hands on nature overode the intellectual.

Key terms

Essentially this subject is about bibliographic organisation which is defined by Ross Harvey and Philip Hider (2008) in the preface to your text Organising knowledge in a global society as:

the organising of the bibliographic information that users of libraries and information centres need in order to find and select the information resources that allow them to acquire the knowledge they seek.

 I need to copy Pages 3-6 here for the definitions, I will have to figure out how to do that.. Hmm.


Study task

Where do you believe the users in your school library, or a school library you are familiar with, would rate the catalogue on the following scale (a to e)?

a. The first place they go to find the information they need.
b. The second or third place they go to find the information they need.
c. The place the teacher librarian sends them to find the information they need.
d. Can be helpful but sometimes frustrating, frequently does not lead them to the information they need.
e. Difficult to use, not worth the effort, something the teacher librarian uses to help her locate information for users.

What factors do you see as having lead to the rating which you have assigned?


For Most I would say C or E, only the regular library users go to it straight off without my guidance. I suspect this is because students just don’t know how to use catalogues ( thre are no library lessons at my school) and lack the patience to learn it themselves. Most of my studetns have no idea about even the basic boolean search terms.

Short of lessons to teach the kids how to use this stuff, I can only show them how to use it when they come in.


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