Dictionary Catalogue : definition, benifits or quality and weakness

Dictionary Catalogue is combination of author, name, title and subject catalogue along-with cross reference entries arranged in one alphabetical sequence. It derives its name from its arrangement, that is like a dictionary, as under :
AristotalAuthor, subject
Astronomy; a handbook for readersTitle
Bombay to GoaTitle
Cutter, C.AAuthor
Mukerjee, see MukherjiCross reference
Qualities of Dictionary catalogue:
The following qualities are assigned to dictionary catalogue :

  • 1. It is easy to use. Any reader who can consult or use a dictionary can use it fruitfully.
  • 2. It satisfies more than one approach, i.e. author, title, and subject. It is full of the qualities of author, title, name and subject catalogues because it is combination of all of these. It provides information on any book of which either author, or title, or subject is known. At the same time it also tells as to how many and which books are available in the library by an author and on a subject. It also links related subjects with the help of cross reference entries.
  • 3. Subject headings are derived for use in it from a standard list or from mechanical devices such as chain procedure. The cataloguer has the autonomy to choose heading to suit his readers.
  • 4. It is very easy to prepare or construct. It can be made by combining together all the entries for all the books arranging them in one alphabetical sequence.
  • In it subject entries are prepared under specific subject headings and not under broad subject headings. To show difference between the two types of arrangements (arrangement under specific subject headings and arrangement under broad subject headings) has been shown below by arranging some fruits, namely apple, banana, almond, cashew nut, mango and orange under these two types of subject headings:
Specific subject headings
Broad subject heading
Cashew  nut
Dry fruit

  • Almond
  • Cashew nut

Soft fruits

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Orange
Approach ‘A’ (Specific subject heading) is approach of a common or general reader while Approach ‘B’ (broad subject heading) is specialist’s approach. Since Dictionary catalogue’s subject headings are specific, it can satisfy common readers very well.
Weaknesses of dictionary catalogue:
  1. In it entries pertaining to related subjects are placed away from each other because of alphabetical arrangement. For example, entry for ‘electricity’ and ‘magnet’ will be field or arranged far away from one another although the terms are related. This weakness may be overcome by providing cross reference entries but in many cases it may not be possible.
  2. As stated above, cross reference entries are required to be prepared in it in big quantity for linking together related subjects. This make the catalogue over crowded, unwieldy and heavy day by day.
  3. Dependence on subject headings may create problem because meaning of word may change with the change of place, person or time.
  4. A surfacial study of dictionary catalogue shows that its arrangement is very simple. but it is not as simple as it looks to be. When the catalogue grows with the library, the combined arrangement of author, name, title, and subject entries become complex and inconvenient.


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