Cutter’s rules of Cataloguing

Charles Cutter (1837-1903) was another pioneering librarian. One part of his large body of work was Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalog (1876, with several revisions), which “became the basis for the dictionary catalog, which was to become the predominant form of catalogs in general libraries in the United States” (Chan 34). Cutter (8) elegantly set out what a catalogue should do, and how:


2.To show what a library has:

          D) by a given author

          E) on a given subject

          F) in a given kind of literature

3. To assist in the choice of a book

          H) as to its edition (bibliographically)

           I) as to its character (literary or topical)


1. Author-entry with the necessary references (for A and D).

2. Title-entry or title-reference (for B).

3. Subject-entry, cross-references, and classed subject table (for C and E).

4. Form-entry (for F).

5. Giving edition and imprint, with notes when necessary (for G).

6. Notes (for H).


among the several possible methods of attaining the OBJECTS.

Other things being equal, choose that entry

  1. That will probably be first looked under by the class of people who use the library;
  2. That is consistent with other entries, so that one principle can cover all;
  3. That will mass entries least in places where it is difficult to so arrange them that they can be readily found, as under names of nations and cities.


These could be reworded with FRBR terms, but there are some distinctions that the next cataloguer will clarify. We will leave Panizzi and Cutter, noting that their rules underly all modern catalogues. To the newcomer their ideas seem so natural that they do not describe how a catalogue should work, but rather how it does work, and how all catalogues work, and one that did not would be a poor and strange one indeed.



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  1. Thanks so much iam student of librarian in Tanzania i need some different ideas concernd with information studies..

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