National Bibliographies

National Bibliography have been in existence for nearly four hundred years, but the term national bibliography was put into use about a hundred years ago. Amongst the first national bibliographers, the name of the antiquarian, John Leland (1506-52) may be mentioned. He compiled the Commentariied Scriptoribus Britannicus (1546) on the basis of his personal examination of the books. A.F. Dani brought out the first national bibliography of Italy entitled La libraria in 1550. Francois Gruie of France attempt was Allgemeines bibliographisches lexicon by A.E. Ebert of Germany in 1821-30 in two volumes. Earlier attempts were mostly retrospective in nature.
National Bibliography is an enumerative bibliography. However, this term is a homonym and is difficult to define. It denotes different things to different people. Ideally speaking, a national bibliography should record all documents published or unpublished, irrespective of the agency issuing them, covering tread as well as non-tread items, irrespective of the form of material, language, subject or time of publication. It follows that the totality of bibliographical tools relating to the output of the nation, taken together, go to form a complete national bibliography. In this context even a tread bibliography is one part of national bibliography, but is more restricted in nature. However in practice, a national bibliography is restricted in terms of form of materiel, (one or another form of material like books, periodicals, pamphlets, microfilms, etc.) time (retrospective or current), geographical area (limited to the country, state, district, city, etc.), content (anonymous or pseudonymous works, etc.), and origin (agency of issue).
Types of National Bibliography.


Ranganathan1 recognizes the following categories of national bibliography:
  1. List of all the books published in a country;
  2. List of all books on a country;
  3. List of all books published by all the citizens of a country;
  4. Lists of all the books published on all the citizens of the country; and
  5. Any one combination of the above.

Ranganathan uses the term “books” , which is to restrictive and should be replaced by the term documents.

However, we may recognize the following types of national bibliography:
  1. Lists of records issued within a given country;
  2. Lists of records in the language of a given country;
  3. Lists of records issued by natives of a given country regardless to where they may reside or the language used;
  4. Lists of records about a given country including those which present some aspect of national life;
  5. Lists of records copyrighted in a given country;
  6. Lists of records for a given country.

Users of National Bibliography. 

  •  It keeps the users well informed about the literary achievements of a nation.
  • It helps in the transmission of scholarship and culture of future generations.
  • It serves as a device for bibliographic control of the literary output of a nation.
  • It serves as a book selection tool for libraries, scholars and others, and it acts as a guide to the book trade.

1. S.R Ranganathan, physical bibliography for librarians, 2nd ed., Bombay, Asia Publishing house, 1974, pp. 22-23.


Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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