Functions of Bibliography
A bibliographer’s work, particularly, the results of analytical and historical studies resulting in descriptive details and systematic listing and recording is of great value to scholars in the areas of linguistics, literature, history, and other human studies. It also provides the basis for textual criticism. But this kind of high levels of investigation and intellectual pursuits is not warranted in the case of practical applications of knowledge as in social sciences and in pure sciences.
The most important functions of bibliography are:
- i) to save the time of the user: It saves the time of the user by providing relevant literature otherwise it would consume more time to collect the material or information. But for bibliography, even a scholar faced with such a vast amount of literature would use his way, wasting much time before he is able to read even of past of which he is required to study.
- ii) Easy access of information: Information is vital to the development of various fields of knowledge. Therefore. it is essential that relevant information be brought to the attention of professionals. administrators and researchers, who have urgent need of it.
- iii) It acts as a bibliographic tool: No modern library can function without bibliographical tools like bibliography.
- iv) To Assist an enquirer: To know the total out (current and retrospective) of material on particular subjects or topics, irrespective of the language, the origin or the physical nature of the items, and
- v) To explain issues concerning the variations and differences of texts of works, their editions and versions etc.
The need for or uses of any bibliography can be summarized as follows.
- To serve as a tool for book selection.
- To help in identification and verification of bibliographic details of documents both old and current.
- To help in inculcating reading habits, publication of relevant reading list is a must.
- To help in location of material, in terms of place of publication, location, in the library of point of purchase.
- To save the time of the scholar by providing him the comprehensive list of documents on his subject of research.
- To have bibliographical control of vast mass of documents produced in conventional and non-conventional forms and by manual and mechanical means, i.e, in short to control knowledge explosion.
- To provide quick and easy access to information contained in documents to user or scholar, to keep him update.
- To keep the scholar informed of the latest additions made to his subject by giving him the means of new publications given in publisher’s subject for it is an index compiled systematically.
- To make available a list of books known to exist in a certain library or else in a certain field of study such as a definite period of time, or a specific subject, or a given language, or a certain form of exposition or an individual author, and so on.
- To discover the life-story of books as a physical object, in respect of its printing, paper and other aspects of gross body of book.
- To avoid duplication of research; in case of a researcher, bibliography enables him to find out what has already been written on his subject and allows him to keep himself well informed and up-to-date.
- To promote the use of books and other materials by the publications of subject bibliographies and author bibliographies.
- To assist the user in locating the existence of or identifying a book or any reading material which may be of interest to the reader.
- To serve as a key or guide to the literature of the subject, for it is an index compiled systematically.
The UNESCO and the Library of Congress, in their survey report, 1950 have stated the following aims and functions of bibliography.
- “It’s aims is to make it possible for intellectual workers, to learn of publications recording the developments in their fields of interest not only in their own countries but also the world;
- promote the effectiveness of a particular project in research;
- contribute to the cultural development and enjoyment which are derived from records of learning and culture;
- assist in promoting useful applications of existing knowledge and in making the applications which have been developed in one country, widely known to all countries”
Quick and easy access to information is vital to the development of various fields of knowledge. In this respect, bibliography plays an important role. A scholar can very well know about the existence of a document/documents in a particular field of knowledge. He can also identify a document by knowing its bibliographical details. It can serve as a books selection tool for the librarians. In well established libraries, the bibliographical details help in locating the material. It is useful to a general reader and research scholar as well.
Bibliographic organization and services recognize no national or political boundaries. This is true because a book has universal value_ Not withstanding the practical impediments, it has to be made available for all and at all times. The ‘Universal bibliographic control’ actually is a plea as well as a plan. It points out to the mechanisms of announcing the world wide output of materials for awareness and also facilitation the means for accessing. Thus a wide ranging variety of bibliographies are needed. Briefly stated, they are:
- current and retrospective (national, regional and language) bibliographies
- a variety of trade bibliographies,
- a host of special bibliographies (on the basis of a wide variety of categories) and
- bibliographies of bibliographies.