Cataloging rules are needed for many reasons. The first and foremost reason is to provide consistency and uniformity within a single library, so that, for example, various books by an author who uses more than one name can be located. A second reason is to ensure that users are enabled to find what they need efficiently and reliably. Time and therefore costs are reduced that are involved in cataloging when there are steadfast rules to follow, which allow all arguments about how to be settled immediately. By making rules standard among all libraries can ease of use is provided for the users that use more than one library. Consistency is provided between the libraries. This allows catalog records to be shared and thus reduces the costs in a centralized or cooperative library system when libraries use an agreed set of cataloging rules. With cataloging rules users can even handle materials they cannot actually read, materials in other languages.


The first modern cataloging code was detailed in 1829 by Panizzi of the British Museum. He detailed the important concept that each book should have one principal entry. Later, at the Smithsonian Institute, Charles Jewett had 33 rules. He hoped to develop a strict set of guidelines that would cover every possible variation with these. In 1876 Charles Ammi Cutter published the first edition of his book Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalogue which contains 369 rules for descriptive cataloging, subject headings and filing.

Types of Cataloging Rules

Currently libraries mainly use two types of cataloging rules. One of which is the previously mentioned Cutter’s Cataloging Rules. The other one that is also immediately taught to beginning cataloging students is the Anglo American Cataloging Rules.

Introduction to Cataloging class notes
Learn Descriptive Cataloging by Mary Mortimer