How to read a book Technically :: Bibliographical reading of a book.

Technical Reading of Books

Bibliographical or technical reading of book is done mainly to attain the following four objectives:
  • To determine subject of a book;
  • To assign classification number;
  • To accelerate the number of books to be catalogued per day, and
  • To save time in processing.
Steps to bibliographical / technical reading:
Let us turn to the official title page (the page which contains major bibliographical information’ i.e. author, title, edition, imprint, etc.), and examine the following items:

1. Author

  • Author’s designation, which can reveal the subject of specialization.
  • Degree/ qualifications to know academic background.
  • Institution where he works also reveals the subject of the books.
  • Author’s information on title page, introduction, dust jacket.
2. Title:
  • Main title: It will be self-explanatory if it is a textbook, introduced with phrase like “An introduction to”, “Essentials of”, “A text book of”, etc. Many books are however of abstract nature, whose main title is rather misleading and the sub-title, if any helps the information scientist to determine the subject contain of the book.
  • Subtitle: It is called an explanatorytitle or a secondary title that amplifies or states limitation of the main title, e.g. Communication: an introduction to the history of writing, printing, books and libraries/ by Elmer D. Johnson.
  • Alternative title: It is a form of subtitle introduced by “or”.
  • Cover title: It is a title printed on the cover.
  • Binder’s title: This is lettered by the binder on the original spine. It can be used when the title page is missing.
  • Running title: This is repeated on the top of each page, or alternate page.
  • Caption title: It is sometimes printed at the head of the first page of the text.


3. Edition: This is distinguished from reprint or facsimile reprint. It is of different forms, i.e.
  • Ist ed.
  • Revised ed.
  • Revised and enlarged ed.
  • Abridged ed. or Epitomes, i.e. DDC 8th abridged ed. for the standard 16th ed.
  • Expurgated ed.: when objectionable part is deleted.
First edition is required for some original historical
information, or for development of a poet’s work, while latest edition is
required for up-to-date information.

4. Imprint: This includes Place, Publisher and Date/Year of copyright date of publication.

  • McGraw-Hill is noted for standard books on Science and Technology.
  • Skira for books on Art. 

5. Collation: This includes pagination or volumes and illustration. Illustration includes frontispiece, diagrams, figures, maps, photos, plans, plates, portraits, table etc. A standard research work generally includes these items. Volumes are the division an author or publisher makes to a specific work for convenient classification of form like Poetry, Prose, Fiction, Drama, Songs of an author. Different volumes may have different title also.

6. Series: Sometimes series is more popular than the title, and reflects the subject broadly.
7. Bibliography and Reference: Bibliography within a book is a list of articles published in journals, and books given at the end of the text or chapter, or both for further reading and research. Reference includes those works that have been referred to while writing the book. Mostly ‘Reference, are quoted under superior numerals mentioned at the foot of the page, or after chapter of the book in question. Both this items reflect the subject and scope of the book.
8. Index: Index within a book is given at the end of the text to locate a particular piece of information discussed in the book by mentioning page number against a term or phrase arranged alphabetically. There may be author, subject and title indexes. The term thus listed can also reflect the subject content of the book and special emphasis given by the author.

9. Standard Number: This includes:

  •   i. International Standard Book Number (ISBN),
  •  ii. International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), and
  • iii. Standard Book Number (SBN),

generally mentioned on the verso of the title page, or sometimes on the back cover. This number is an indicative of the geographical area from which the book has been published.

10. Table of Contents: Unless it is a textbook, no information scientist should determine subject of the book without checking the table of contents which provides the headings of all the chapters of the book in question, and thus presents  faithfully the areas covered in the book. This item is not mentioned in a catalogue entry, but works as the principle element for subject determination.
11. Preface / Foreword: It is written by the author. It helps to determine author’s plan or objective, and provides a key to the subject matter or changes if made. It provides a brief survey to the text.
12. Introduction: Written by a critic or colleague or even by the author, it attempts to amplify the text or explain author’s point of view


Declaration: Articles shared in this blog are collected from different sources available on the internet to help students of Library and Information Science. Sources are mentioned in the reference section of the article. If you have any objections about the content of this blog, feel free to contact the site admin at

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