Catalogue

British Museum’s Cataloguing Rules

Sir Anthony Panizzi (1787-1879) was a pioneering English librarian whose 91 rules for the British Museum’s catalogue, “Rules for the Compilation of the Catalogue”, are “considered to be the first major cataloguing code” (Chan 34). There is not room to go into all of Panizzi’s work or the Royal Commission that examined it, but a statement Panizzi made to the Commission is perfectly valid 160 years later: “A reader may know the work he requires; he cannot be expected to know all the peculiarities of different editions; and this information he has a right to expect from the catalogues” (Freedman 93). Our reader Brigid would certainly agree. On a larger scale, Panizzi’s work “remains generally valid and relevant to the present discussion of the question of whether the catalog should be a ‘finding list’ or a ‘reference tool.’ For in this argument Panizzi has laid the cornerstone for the modern catalog” (Lubetzky 1956 175).BM

Maurice Freedman (104) summarized Panizzi’s core ideas about the purpose of a catalogue:

  1. To relate the works of an author so that the user can know all of that author’s works.
  2. To identify and distinguish particular editions, translations, etc., so that those different editions, translations, etc., of a given work are not confused with each other.
  3. To assemble all of the editions, etc., of a work so that a user seeking a given publication will not just find it, but also will have presented with that given publication, all of the editions, etc., of the given work represented by it, as well as works related to it.

Some of that terminology looks familiar. Let us restate it using words from FRBR:

  1. To relate the works of an author so that the user can know all of that author’s works.
  2. To identify and distinguish particular expressions and manifestations of a given work so they are not confused with each other.
  3. To assemble all works and their expressions and manifestations so that a user seeking any one will see all the other related entities in the hierarchy, and other works related to the work in question.We will see that these ideas continue on, almost unchanged, to today.

Reference:

  1. Lubetzky, Seymour. “Panizzi vs. the ‘Finding Catalog’.” 1956. Seymour Lubetzky: Writings on the Classical Art of Cataloging. Comp. and ed. Elaine Svenonius, Dorothy McGarry. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2001. 174-179.
  2. Freedman, Maurice. “The Functions of the Catalog and the Main Entry as Found in the Work of Panizzi, Jewett, Cutter, and Lubetzky.” Diss. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 1983.
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Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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