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									Guidance for meeting librarians
from the Library of the Society of Friends in Britain

Guide No. 3          Cataloguing and arranging the meeting

     1.   Introduction
     2.   The catalogue
     3.   Subject arrangement
     4.   Computer systems
     5.   Examples of simple catalogue entries
     6.   Some subject headings used by meeting libraries
     7.   Further advice
     Appendix 1. Catalogue description elements, layout and punctuation
     Appendix 2. Resources

1.       Introduction

Whatever kind of cataloguing and arrangement, and whatever format (card catalogue,
computer or paper file) is chosen for your meeting library, simplicity must be the guiding
principle. The system should be “user-friendly”, enabling readers to find books by author,
title or subject without assistance, and it should be easy to administer both for the
librarian and for his or her successors.

2.       The catalogue

Every library should have at least a basic catalogue, both as a record of what books are
held, and as a finding aid for library users.

The catalogue should record at least four essential pieces of information:

        the author or editor, or corporate body (organisation, e.g. QPSW)
        the title as given on the title page
        the date of publication
        the accession number allocated by you to identify each item.

It would also be helpful to include the edition of the item (unless it is the first and/or only
edition) and a brief physical description, such as the number of volumes or pages, or
the number of CDs in a set, as well as material type, when the library holds non-book
material, such as video or sound recordings. Additionally you may want to include the
publisher and the place of publication, and any series title (e.g., Swarthmore lecture,
Pendle Hill pamphlet). Once the library grows to any size (say over 200 volumes) the
catalogue record will need the addition of a shelf mark or class mark to help readers
locate the book on the shelves.

Although some older meeting libraries produced a printed or hand-written list or register
of books, most now use a card catalogue, and some use a computer.

For a card catalogue the librarian makes separate catalogue entries under different
headings so that the reader can choose from several different access points to find the
same item. In a simple author-title card catalogue, two or more cards are made out with
the same catalogue description under different headings. The main card is filed by
author heading (with additional cards if there is more than one significant author) and
another card is filed by the first word of the title (the first word after any definite or
indefinite article - “the” or “a/an”). In a catalogue with subject entries, there will be a
further card or cards under a subject heading.

To save cataloguing time, the main card sometimes gives the fullest description and the
added entries an abbreviated description. It is good practice to make a note of added
entry headings used (“tracings”) on the back of the main card, so you can easily find all
the cards in case you need to edit the entry or withdraw the book from the catalogue.

For a summary of elements used in standard cataloguing, and further references, see
Appendix 1, Catalogue description elements, layout and punctuation.

3.     Subject arrangement and subject headings

Any subject division should be as simple as possible in the interests of the user - and of
your successors. Classification schemes used in public and academic libraries, such as
the Dewey Decimal system, are almost never the most appropriate, because they are
not designed with the small subject specific library in mind. For most meeting libraries, a
dozen subject divisions would be sufficient.

Subject headings can be used to make additional entries in the catalogue, which will
improve access to separately shelved stock, such as pamphlets, audio-visual material,
outsize books or older books.

Subject headings can also be used as the basis for arranging the books on the
shelves (instead of a simple accession number order or random arrangement) to
improve searching by browsing. Books are usually labelled on the spine with the subject
name, or a subject number, code or colour. To help guide the reader to the individual
item within subject groups they are often divided by the first few letters of the author’s
surname, which can also be marked on the spine. Although shelf arrangement by
subject has benefits for browsing, it is preferable to shelve material in different formats,
such as pamphlets and audio-visual material, separately from the main run of books, to
protect from damage and prevent items slipping down between others.

Some examples of subject headings adopted by meeting libraries are given in section 6.

4.     Computers, cards or paper?

Some meeting libraries use a computer to create the catalogue. The cataloguing
principles remain the same – a brief catalogue description, with different access points
(at least author and title; perhaps also publisher, series title and subject) – but clerical
work is reduced (no more multiple catalogue cards). Even a simple system allows more
data than can easily fit on a catalogue card – there is also the possibility of adding
abstracts or short descriptions. In more elaborate systems each record can be linked to
other records, and enhanced by book jacket images.

Unlike card catalogues, computer catalogues are not fixed in one place – they can be
copied onto disk, and worked on away from the meeting house. Some meetings have
mounted their catalogues on their meeting’s website, so that Friends can see what is
available remotely.

Few meeting libraries have large enough collections to warrant the purchase of
mainstream library software, but a small number have used widely available software
packages to create their own catalogues, whether by word-processing catalogue
entries or creating a basic database or spreadsheet.

Whatever choice is made, the meeting librarian should aim for a simple and user-friendly
system, easily operable by his or her successors, and by library users. Some meetings
may not own the necessary hardware, or have a secure place to keep a computer, but
the librarian may have access to one elsewhere. If providing the computer hardware or,
in particular, the software themselves, Friends should consider whether it will in future
still be available to their successors, or whether it will be compatible with other hardware
or software.

If all library users are to benefit from the use of the catalogue, it is advisable to provide a
“hard copy” version. Some readers may not be confident, or physically comfortable,
using computers. If copies of the catalogue are made, for working away from the
meeting house, or for cataloguing work by different Friends, there will be a need for
careful version control.

A regular back-up routine is absolutely essential to ensure that catalogue data is not
lost, whatever may happen to the computer. It is good practice to store one up-to-date
back-up copy of the computer data elsewhere, for additional security.

For a list of some cataloguing software available at the time of publication of this guide,
see Appendix 2, Resources.

5.       Examples of simple catalogue entries

Below are two basic catalogue entries for Eleanor Nesbit’s book, Interfaith pilgrims,
one under the heading for the author, the second under the heading for the title.

The minimum information is given – the heading at the top, the description below,
including title, statement of responsibility (e.g., by X, edited by Y) and date of
publication, plus, on a new line, the library’s accession number, or numbers in the case
of multiple copies, with the shelf mark(s) prominently below that.

Note the use of standard punctuation (in this case conforming to current professional
standards - Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules 2nd ed.) and standard lay-out, which help
make the information stand out.

Author heading              Title and statement of

NESBIT, Eleanor

Interfaith pilgrims : living truths and truthful living /
by Eleanor Nesbit. - 2003                                       Date of publication
Accession no. 59
                       [shelf mark]

Library accession number                      Library shelf mark

Title heading (first word of title)


Interfaith pilgrims : living truths and truthful living /
by Eleanor Nesbit. - 2003
Accession no. 59
                       [shelf mark]

Below are fuller catalogue entries for Dean Freiday’s modern English edition of Barclay’s
Apology. The basic information in the description is expanded to include edition, place of
publication and publisher, and a physical description (e.g., number of pages, or volumes,
and dimensions for printed books; number of items and format for audio-visual
resources such as CDs or audio cassettes). These elements help give the library user
an idea of the publishing source of the item, its currency, or the period in which it was
published, and the size or type of item (is it a 12 page pamphlet or a 400 page tome? Is
it an audiocassette or a CD?).

Author heading       Title and statement of

Barclay, Robert
                                                             Place of publication,
Barclay’s Apology in modern English / edited by              publisher, date
Dean Freiday. – 2 ed.
 Newberg, Or. : Barclay Press, 1991
 xli, 465 p. ; 22 cm.
Accession no. 60                                             Physical description
                     [shelf mark]                            (pagination, size)

Library accession number                Library shelf mark

Same catalogue description, under another heading (editor):

Freiday, Dean
Barclay’s Apology in modern English / edited by
Dean Freiday. – 2 ed.
  Newberg, Or. : Barclay Press, 1991
  xli, 465 p. ; 22 cm.
Accession no. 60
                      [shelf mark]

Same catalogue description, under another heading (title):

Barclay’s Apology in modern English / edited by
Dean Freiday. – 2 ed.
 Newberg, Or. : Barclay Press, 1991
 xli, 465 p. ; 22 cm.
Accession no. 60
                     [shelf mark]

Same catalogue description, under another heading (subject heading):

Quaker theology
Barclay’s Apology in modern English / edited by
Dean Freiday. – 2 ed.
 Newberg, Or. : Barclay Press, 1991
 xli, 465 p. ; 22 cm.
Accession no. 60
                     [shelf mark]

Tracings on back of main entry card for same item:


The name and subject headings used for catalogue entries need to be consistent, so
that the library user can find all related items together. If an author’s works are
sometimes entered in the catalogue under one name and sometimes another, then the
entries may be filed far apart. Similarly if one librarian uses the heading QUAKER
THEOLOGY and another uses THEOLOGY, QUAKER, entries will be dotted about in
different places. Readers will be helped by references from other headings to the
preferred heading, and so will the cataloguer:

Theology, Quaker

SEE     Quaker theology

Barclay, R.

SEE     Barclay, Robert

6.     Some subject divisions used by meeting libraries

Horfield Meeting (Bristol) used eleven subject categories:

Arts, music, poetry                       Quaker journals
Biblical studies                          Quaker religious thought
Biography                                 Quaker business (Yearly Meeting, etc.)
Fiction                                   Religious thought
Peace                                     Swarthmore Lectures
Quakerism                                 Social issues
Quaker history

Northampton Meeting built on the system at Charney Manor, giving each subject a letter,
which was put on the spine with the first three letters of the author’s name (or the title if
there was no single author):

A      Faith: relationship with God, prayer       F     Human relationships
       and healing                                G     Society
B      Bibles and holy books                      H     Peace studies
C      Christ and Christianity                    J     Education and science
D      Religious Society of Friends               K     The arts
E      Other faiths [not C or D]                  REF   Reference

Liverpool and Chester Meetings used colour coding, with coloured spine labels to help
identify subject swiftly and aid shelving (within each subject books were arranged in
order of author’s surname):

■ Abroad      Brown                       ■ Peace                      Green
■ Bible       Red                         ■ Quaker spirituality        Purple
■ Biography   Pale blue                   ■ Social & economic          Yellow
■ Education   Grey                        ■ Spirituality (general)     Pink
■ Fiction     Black                       ■ Swarthmore Lectures        White
■ History     Blue                        ■ Young people               Orange

A few libraries adopted the 26 alphabetical subject headings formerly used in the
Friends Book Centre catalogues. A simplified version could be as follows:

A    GENERAL QUAKERISM              F                CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE
D    BIOGRAPHY, JOURNALS            I                LITERATURE, MUSIC & ART
E    HISTORY (incl. family history) J                AUDIO-VISUAL & STUDY PACKS
                                    K                REFERENCE & PERIODICALS

Amersham Meeting library has adopted mnemonic subject code:

A    Anthologies (prose and poetry)          L   Law; penal system
B    Biography                               M   The arts
C    Material for Children                   N   The healing arts
D    Self-Development; spiritual growth      O   Outreach
E    Material for Enquirers                  P   Practical Quakerism; faith & practice
F    Fiction and poetry (not anthologised)   Q   Quakerism
G    Theology (General); ethics (general)    R   Religious thought, Quaker
H     History, Quaker                        S   Social concerns incl. education
I    Interfaith dialogue                     T   Testimonies, Quaker, incl. peace
J    Jesus; the Bible                        U   History, Universal
K    Archaeology, biblical and Holy Land     W    World conservation; environment

7.      Further advice

For further advice on meeting libraries you can either write to the Library at Friends
House, Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ, telephone 020 7663 1135 or send an email to

There is also an internet discussion group for Quaker Meeting Librarians. To join the
group go to or send an email to

Other leaflets in this series
     1.   The Job of the Meeting Librarian
     2.   Selection and acquisition of stock
     3.   Cataloguing and arranging the meeting library
     4.   Equipment for a meeting library
     5.   Disposing of unwanted books
     6.   Caring for your books
     7.   Promoting the meeting library

All can be downloaded from the Britain Yearly Meeting website on
the Support for Meetings page or requested from the Library.
June 2008

Appendix 1           Catalogue description elements, layout and

ISBD International Standard Bibliographic Description

Elements of the bibliographic description are laid out in 8 areas with standard

   1   Title & statement of responsibility area
   2   Edition
   3   Details specific to some formats (used for maps & serials, e.g. scale)
   4   Publication & distribution
   5   Physical description
   6   Series
   7   Notes
   8   ISBN or other standard number

Some of the elements may be repeated.

For an outline of punctuation and lay-out see ISBD(G) : General International Standard
Bibliographic Description, Revised ed. 1992. 2005 ed. available as PDF:

AACR2 Cataloguing - Level 1

AACR2 Level 1 descriptive cataloguing requires the following elements of the description:

       Title proper / first statement of responsibility, if different from main entry heading.
       – Ed. statement. – First publisher, date of publication. – Extent of item – Note –
       Standard no.

AACR2 Level 1 descriptive cataloguing omits the following elements:

     Other title information (sub-title)
     Other statements of responsibility
     Format specific details for maps and serials
     Place of publication
     Other publishers
     Other physical description (e.g. illustrations)
     Dimensions of item
     Series
(Anglo-American cataloguing rules 2nd ed., 2002 revision: 2005 update, American
Library Association, Canadian Library Association, CILIP, 2005). A third edition of the
rules is due to be published in the near future.

Appendix 2          Resources

   1. Cataloguing software
             Library software
             Software for book collectors
             Social cataloguing software
   2. Organisations
   3. Cataloguing manuals and web guides for church libraries
   4. Internet cataloguing tools
   5. Library catalogues and other sources of bibliographic information
   6. Discussion lists

1.     Cataloguing software
Inclusion in this list of products and suppliers does not signify endorsement or
recommendation by the Library of the Religious Society of Friends, London. Librarians
are urged to research thoroughly any potential purchase.

Library software:

Right On Library Software, from Right On Programs, various modules, including card
printing ($245 - $925)

Library Gold Standard from Cadomel £395 plus annual service
contract £100

PC Card Catalog BASIC library automation software (prints catalogue cards) from $399 - $900

Surpass CL Church Library ed. Library software $495 plus
$199 annual support fee

Resource Mate 3.0, library software $195 - $395

Library 1.7 from Cross Products (Church Related On-line Software Systems) $150 - $185

Software for book collectors:

PrimaSoft Book Organizer, book collection software, $43

Readerware 2.981, book collection cataloguing, for DOS or MAC. Readerware Inc. $40 basic

BookCat, book collection software from FNProgramvare (Norway) £21.50

Booklist, book collection software from
Clique £22.00


Koha open source library system (NZ)

Open Biblio

Open DB

Social cataloguing software:

LibraryThing $15 p.a. for up to 5,000 books for an organisational

2.     Organisations

CILIP Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, UK

Church & Synagogue Library Association, USA, including list of publications and 1
sample policy

US National Church Library Association web pages have useful links, including software
links, and list of publications, including free set of Library Basics (PDF files) . The Association also publishes A Handbook for Church
Librarians by Linda Beck, 2002 ($18.99 or free with membership)

3.   Cataloguing manuals and other web guides for church

Starting a church library by Ron Maness, Community Bible Chapel, Richardson, Texas

A theological library manual by Janet Newhall (1970) (PDF)

The church library : an outline of procedure by Erma Jean Loveland, 3rd ed. Bowen
Library, Abilene Christian University, Abilene Texas

Libraries in Churches discussion list and links, maintained by Shaun Brouwer (British

4.     Internet cataloguing tools

Vianne Tang Sha's Internet Library for Librarians,

Library Corporation: Cataloger’s reference shelf

Cataloguing Cheat Sheets, from Special Libraries Cataloging, Victoria, B.C., with
emphasis on MARC cataloguing and codes

Queen Elizabeth II Library, Memorial University of Newfoundland: Cataloguer’s toolbox,
with links to reference works, guides to MARC cataloguing, etc.

Virtual tour for church librarians (Australian Church Library Association web resource

International standard for catalogue punctuation and layout ISBD (G)

5.   Library catalogues and other sources of bibliographic

Catalogue of the Library of the Religious Society of Friends and Quaker Life Resources
Room, London

TRIPOD, joint catalogue of Haverford College (including Quaker Collection),
Swarthmore College (including Friends Historical Library) and Bryn Mawr College,

British Library, the national library of the UK

Library of Congress, USA, including Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and
name authorities

COPAC: British union catalogue of national and university libraries

World Cat: OCLC’s on-line freely available on-line union catalogue, giving library
holdings near any specified location

English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC) for records of books published before 1800,
searchable through British Library website

Amazon, on-line bookseller (British site)

                                              12 (US site)

6.    Discussion lists

Email discussion list for Quaker meeting librarians in Britain Yearly Meeting

Yahoo discussion group for meeting librarians in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting

LibraryThing church libraries group for LibraryThing members (users of LibraryThing
social cataloguing software, see section 1 above)


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