Information Catalogs

Table of Contents | Introduction | About the Author

The card catalog contains a listing of the books available in the library. They may be divided in cabinets according to author, subject, or title, or they may be integrated into a single cabinet.

  • Audio-visual cards list the filmstrips, cassettes, records, and tapes available in the library. Not all libraries include these in their card files.
  • Author cards list the author of the book on the top line.
  • Book cards can be either a subject, an author, or a title card. All cards have the same information on them. The first line changes to reflect the type of card. They are sorted using standard alphabetizing practices. Books by an author are followed in the file by books about the author.

Standardization of card information is becoming more common with the availability of pre-printed cards; however, older cards or librarian produced cards may differ in the information found on the card.

The following items may occur on cards in the card catalog: author of the book, title of the book, publisher, place of publication, date of publication/copyright date, number of pages in the book, call number, cross references, summary of the book, and the ISBN (International Standard Book Number).

The call number is located in the upper left hand corner of the card. Call numbers for fiction books have the letter "F" or "Fic" on the top line and have the first letter or perhaps the first three letters of the author's last name on the bottom line. Call numbers for non-fiction books contain the Dewey number on the top line and list the first initial of the author's last name on the bottom line.

An "R" may be used to designate reference to indicate a restriction on the book's use. In addition, biographies are given a three letter designation. The first line is "B" for biography. The next line is given the initial of the person about whom the book is written. The last line contains the initial of the author of the book.

Cross reference cards appear in the card file with the words "see" or "see also" on them.

Cross references are shown as a numbered list on the bottom of the card. Arabic numbers are used to designate a subject card to be consulted. Roman numeral I is used to designate a title card. Roman numeral II is used to designate an author card.

Guide cards are dividers located in the file boxes at intervals to help locate quickly a specific card. It lists the card immediately following. They do not limit the subjects which will appear in the intervals between guide cards.

Subject cards list the subject about which a book is written and can be distinguished from title cards by the use of upper case letters on the top line. There may be several subject cards in the card file over the same book. The number of subject cards is limited by space in the card file.

Title cards list the title of the book on the top line and can be distinguished from a subject line by the use of lower case letters with the exception of the first letter of the book name.


Computerized systems offer a means of searching a library's resources using a computer accessed database. More libraries are offering this service which requires the user to be familiar with the system but can greatly speed up the search process. Using a modem, this information can be obtained through a home or school computer. Knowledge of Boolean search techniques is helpful.

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