Functions and Importance of Union Catalogue:
- It provides location of a given book or periodical held in specific participating libraries.
- It provides assistance in interlibrary loans to private persons.
- It enables better co-ordination in acquisitions (i.e. through co-operative acquisition) and processing (i.e. through centralized cataloguing) amongst participating libraries.
- It ensures resulting economy in co-operative procurement.
- It provides bibliographical information in either automated, microfiche, card or printed form.
- Conservation of the list of titles owned by the participating libraries works as a “shadow catalogue” or “standard catalogue” for collection destroyed by fire or war.
- It works as a book selection apparatus.
- It can control unnecessary duplication of books in participating libraries.
- It works as a combined record of library materials of the libraries of a region or of a nation.
- Being a combined list, the union catalogue can indicate the possible gap in collection of a specific library in any subject area.
Factors and principles for planning and organizing Union Catalogue:
According to Robert B. Downs the following factors and questions are to be considered while planning and organizing union catalogue:
- The geographical scope of the catalogue is to be determined first.
- The libraries being included are to be included?
- Whether or not complete holdings of these libraries to be included?
- Decision is to be taken if only lending libraries are to be included, or also those that do not lend.
- It is to be decided should there be one general catalogue, or an author or subject catalogue and a separate catalogue of anonymous works.
- It is to be limited to books or serials or periodicals or both.
- Should some kinds of literature be excluded?
- In what conditions are the catalogues of the libraries to be incorporated? Is there homogeneity in the cataloguing practice?
- Can the libraries provide an extra copy of their catalogue entries both for old stock record and for new accessions?
- In case of need, can the libraries undertake the catalogue of the entries? How can the entries be duplicated or microfilmed?
- Where should the catalogue be housed?
Importance of Union Catalogue:
No library of the world possibly can have all the reading materials required its readers. In this age of information explosion no library or information institution can collect all the materials to meet the demands of the users. In order to mitigate the problem, the idea of union catalogue emerged. It plays a vital role to share the use of resources amongst the participating libraries.