catalog, descriptive list, on cards or in a book, of the contents of a library. Assurbanipal's library at Nineveh was cataloged on shelves of slate. The first known subject catalog was compiled by Callimachus at the Alexandrian Library in the 3d cent. BC The library at Pergamum also had a catalog. Early in the 9th cent. AD the catalogs of the libraries of the monastery at Reichenau and of the abbey at Saint-Riquier, N France, included summaries of the works cataloged. In 1472 the monastic library at Clairvaux was recataloged and one of the earliest union catalogs was made—of the contents of 160 Franciscan monastery libraries in England. In 1475 the Vatican librarian, Platina, cataloged that library's 2,527 volumes. About 1660 Clement, librarian of the Bibliothèque du Roi under Louis XIV, compiled a subject catalog and inventory of manuscripts. The printing of the British Museum catalog was begun by Panizzi as keeper (1837–56) of printed books. Charles A. Cutter devised the modern dictionary catalog (with author, title, and subject arranged in one alphabet) for the Boston Athenæum library. Melvil Dewey devised his decimal system in the 1870s; the system was widely applied in smaller libraries and many large ones. In 1901 the Library of Congress began the practice of printing its catalog entries on cards 3 by 5 in. (7.6 by 12.7 cm) and distributing them to other libraries for a small fee. The National Union Catalogue, begun in 1952 by the Library of Congress, collated the card catalog entries of the larger American libraries and printed the results in book form. The advent of the computer has dramatically expanded the ability of libraries to provide extensive bibliographic services. By consulting an electronic catalog, such as the WorldCat of OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), a person can access more than 2 billion catalog records from more than 5,800 content providers around the world.
See M. Gorman and P. Winkler, ed., Anglo American Cataloguing Rules (1988); S. L. Hopkinson, Descriptive Cataloging of Library Materials (1977).