Purpose – The purpose of this article is to compare Anglo‐American cataloguing codes and practices for description over the past 150 years and assess the contribution that they made to International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD). Design/methodology/approach – The major international codes, and those of major British libraries, are examined point by point, using as a basis the main areas of description as outlined in AACR2. Cataloguing textbooks are also referred to when appropriate. Findings – The article finds that general order of elements has been remarkably constant throughout the period, most variation being seen in the physical description area. Primacy of the title page as a source of information is long established. Publisher's name was often of minor importance, and in public libraries physical description was greatly reduced. It is clear from wording that codes often adopted rules from one another, and evidently some libraries made a great attempt to adopt the latest thinking. Solutions to some problems evolved gradually over a long period. Even some apparently minor aspects of punctuation have a long pedigree. ISBD clearly drew on a long‐established consensus as far as possible. Practical implications – In revising AACR2 it is important to be able to see how we have reached where we are now, and in particular to avoid repetition of past mistakes. In an increasingly international publishing environment it is vital to solve the problem of multiple places of publication. Originality/value – This subject has never been tackled in this way before, and the findings are timely for the ongoing revision of AACR2.
Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 2006
Keywords: Cataloguing; Information management
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