Page 44 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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34
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
it could be kept up to date. Today, the computer offers other
ways of achieving flexibility.
The present discussion cannot go into the wealth of specialized
Judaica and Hebraica bibliographies (as distinct from library
catalogs, although catalogs, too, are bibliographies, of course)
published over the past two decades. These bibliographies are
often used in precisely the same way as book catalogs, but their
sheer number forces us to exclude them. Catalogs of manuscript
collections are also excluded.
Why are the catalogs of libraries published? The question
needs to be answered from two points of view: that of the is­
suing body and that of the user. Curiously, the first printed
catalog of an American library was published in order to solicit
gifts.1 Other motives that have been mentioned over the years
are the quest for prestige, the need for multiple copies to be
consulted on or off the library premises, including a general wish
to serve scholarship wherever it is pursued, and the desire, in
the days before typewriters, to achieve greater legibility than
manuscript.
Users approach published catalogs in various ways. W ith in the
issuing library a published catalog is used exactly as an unpub­
lished one would be. If that library is a huge complex of units
and buildings, multiple copies are important even in house. But
let us assume that the catalog is being used outside of the issuing
library. A librarian may have to use somebody else’s catalog
because it offers avenues of access that his own does not. These
may involve analysis of composite works, indexing of journal
articles, entry by title, very detailed subject cataloging, chrono­
logical or geographical approaches and so on. One may use a
library catalog to determine whether something, be i t a particular
edition of a work, a certain volume or a supplement, has actually
appeared. Many librarians find in published catalogs models
to follow in their own cataloging work. And, finally, all cata­
logs of libraries assist in locating copies of books. This is im­
portant not only for interlibrary loan and for planning visits
to libraries, but also in the procurement of facsimilies and,
i David C. Weber, “The Changing Character of the Catalog in America,” in
Ruth French Strout, ed., Library Catalogs: Changing Dimensions; The
Twenty-Eighth Annual Conference of the Graduate Library School, August
5-7, 1963, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1964, p. 22.