Cataloguing and Classification of Library Resources in the 21st Century

Cataloguing and Classification of Library Resources in the 21st Century

Lydia O. Adedibu (University of Ilorin Library, Nigeria), Evelyn O. Akinboro (University of Ilorin Library, Nigeria), and Titilola A. B. Abdussalam (University of Ilorin Library, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-335-5.ch023
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Both traditional and digital libraries are the storehouse of information and indispensable in this age of computerization and digitization of information. As cataloguing is one of the pillars of library services and because cataloguing plays a pivotal role for a successful library operation, a discussion and description of cataloguing process is inevitable. This chapter discusses the steps involved in cataloguing- descriptive, assigning a subject to the document and allocating a classification mark to the picked subject from the subject heading list. It also describes schemes which are specialized and deals only with the subject areas involved, like NLM (National Library of medium) classification scheme and Moys classification for law. The three basic types of classification structure - enumerative, analytic-synthetic, and faceted classification scheme are explained as well. The important activities of library automation, ways of doing copy cataloguing, meaning, procedures, and sources of copy cataloguing are also briefly explained. As automated library system is an important part of libraries nowadays, this chapter further discusses the meaning of computerized cataloguing: the MARC format/records. The role of MARC is also explained in the simplest terms possible as well as the basic information needed to understand MARC record.
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Cataloguing and classification is simply a way of organizing library materials in such a way that the retrieval will not be difficult for library users. Therefore, there is strong need to organize library collections for easy access for users because if the collections are not organized the collections will be useless. The acceptable way of organizing collections is what librarians describe as cataloguing and classification. Harrods (1990) defined “cataloguing as the compilation of list of documents or printed or non book materials according to a set of rules so as to enable the consultant to know what collections are available and from the class number or other means of identification where they may be found”. On the other hand, classification provides a means of bringing all books on the same subject together in a place. Therefore cataloguing and classification can be described as the index to all library collections. Cataloguing and Classification make retrieval of library materials easy for users. According to Adedibu (2009) the purpose of organizing library materials are:

  • to make location of library materials easy

  • to save time and space

  • to facilitate easy accessibility to the materials

  • to enhance effective utilization of the materials

  • to make the library attractive to its users

In the past, cataloguing and classification were done manually which made the work very difficult, boring and time consuming. Recently, most University libraries in Nigeria have joined their counterparts in advanced countries in the use of computers for processing library collections. The use of computerized cataloguing and classification has made processing of library collections more accurate, interesting and faster. Cataloguing involves three major steps which are: allocating access points, subject headings and classification numbers.

The first step in cataloguing is descriptive which is done by allocating access points to the document. This entails the description of the essential parts of the publication such as the person or body responsible for the work, title, pagination, publisher, place of publication, edition and series note. Several codes or rules have emerged using some parameters to denote a document in the catalogue. But the most popular code which is used all over the world is the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules 2 (AACR2) (2005). The code describes rules for each of the activities involved in cataloguing (sequence, punctuation, indentation, capitalization etc).



  • Research in information sciences: an African perspective. – Ibadan, Nigeria: Sterling Horden

  • Publishers (Nig) Ltd, 2002.

  • Viii, 220p.

  • Includes bibliographical reference

  • ISBN: 978-032-053-9.

The second step in cataloguing is assigning a subject to the document. To do this one must first decide what the document is about (intellectual or subject content). The document must be examined carefully to get the required information from the title, sub-title, covers, jacket description, contents page, references and existing catalogue cards. Concepts which best describe the subject and which a user is most likely to search should be identified. Then a tool called Subject Headings should now be consulted to find suitable and appropriate uniform headings which use alphabetical, structured controlled language and cross-referencing of related terms. The Library of Congress Subject Headings which are based or Cutter’s Rules for a dictionary catalogue and Sears List of Subject Headings have been the most influential and popular ones used by Libraries.


  • The interplay of Arabic and Yoruba cultures in South-Western Nigeria/Razaq D. Abubakar.- Iwo, Nigeria: Darul-ILM Publishers, 2004.

  • Concept analysis: Arab culture, Yoruba culture, acculturization, South-Western Nigeria.

  • Subject Headings: Cross-Cultural Studies – Nigeria. Western, Cross cultural studies – Arab.

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