The sixth unwritten law of library science

Fabio Venuda


The five laws of library science, written by S. R. Ranganathan in 1928, drastically modified the idea of public library and oriented its evolution, placing the information needs of the reader at the center of its own reason to exist. However, there is a sixth unwritten law, which since 1851 has led the efforts of the international library community. This research draws the path and sets the milestones that identify this law, from Jewett’s Plan for Stereotyping Catalogues to IFLA’s Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC) program. 


The five laws of library science; co-operative cataloguing; cataloguing history; standardization; cataloguing rules

Full Text:

PDF (Italiano)


American Library Association. Catalog Code Revision Committee 1941 = American Library Association. Catalog Code Revision Committee, ALA catalog rules. Author and title entries, Preliminary American 2. ed., Chicago, American Library Association, 1941.

American Library Association. Co-perative Committee 1876-1878 = American Library Association. Co-perative Committee, Reports 1-8, «The Library Journal», vol. 1 (1876), p. 283, 322, 365, 396, 429; vol. 2 (1877), p. 221; vol. 3 (1878), p. 59, 113.

American Library Association. Committee on uniform title entries 1878 = American Library Association. Committee on uniform title entries, Condensed Rules for Cataloguing, «The Library Journal», vol. 3 (1878), n. 1, p. 12-20, .

American Library Association. Division of Cataloging Classification 1949 = American Library Association. Division of Cataloging Classification, ALA cataloging rules for author and title entries, 2. ed., edited by Clara Beetle, Chicago, American Library Association, 1949.

American Library Association. Publication Section 1887 = American Library Association. Publication Section, Printed catalog cards, «Library journal», vol. 12 (1887), n. 11, p. 515.

Barnwell 1876 = James G. Barnwell, A universal catalogue: its necessity and practicability, «The American Library Journal», vol. 1 (1876), n. 2-3, p. 54-58, .

British Museum and Panizzi 1841 = British Museum and Anthony Panizzi, Rules for the compilation of the catalogue, in Catalogue of printed books in the British museum, v. 1, London, J. B. Nichols and son, 1841, [disponibile in Google Books all’indirizzo ].

Carpenter 1993 = Michael Carpenter, Lubetzky, Seymour, in World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services, Robert Wedgeworth editor, Chicago, American Library Association, 1993, p. 523.

The Conference [1.] 1876a = The Conference of Librarians at Philadelphia, «The American Library Journal», vol. 1 (1876), n. 2-3, p. 45-145.

The Conference [1.] 1876b = The Conference of Librarians at Philadelphia [1.]. The Proceedings. Cooperative cataloguing, «The American Library Journal», vol. 1 (1876), n. 2-3, p. 118-121, .

The Conference [2.] 1877 = The Conference of Librarians at New York [2.]. First annual meeting of the American Library Association. The Proceedings, «The Library Journal», vol. 2 (1877), n. 1, p. 16-40, .

Dewey 1877 = Melvil Dewey, Co-operative Cataloguing, «The American Library Journal», vol. 1 (1877), n. 4-5, p. 170-175, .

Editorial Notes 1877 = Editorial Notes. The Co-operation Committee, «The American Library Journal», vol. 1 (1877), n. 7, p. 251-253, .

Fenly 2001 = Charles Fenly, The Cataloging in Publication program: a brief history, 1971-2001, Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, Cataloging in Publication Division, 2001, 33 p., , , Includes bibliographical references.

Fototipia online = Fototipia, in Enciclopedia Treccani online, .

IFLA. Section of Public Libraries, Gill et al. 2001 = IFLA. Section of Public Libraries, Philip Gill et al., The public library service. IFLA/UNESCO guidelines for development, München, New York, K.G. Saur, 2001.

Jewett 1851 = Charles C. Jewett, A plan for stereotyping catalogues by separate titles, and for forming a general stereotyped catalogue of public libraries of the United States, Washington, 1851, disponibile in Hathi Trust Digital Library, .

Jewett 1853 = Charles C. Jewett, Smithsonian report on the construction of catalogues of libraries, and their publication by means of separate, stereotyped titles, with rules and examples, 2. ed. ed., Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, 1853, disponibile in Hathi Trust Digital Library, .

Krajewski 2011 = Markus Krajewski, Paper machines. About cards & catalogs, 1548-1929, Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2011.

Library Bureau 1893 = Library Bureau. Printed Catalog Cards for Current Books/A Guaranteed Fact, Not a Mere Experiment, «The Library Journal», vol. 18 (1893), p. 528-529, .

Library of Congress 1972 = Library of Congress, CIP. Cataloging in publication. Progress Report. July-December 1971, vol. 1, [Washington], The Dept., 1972, .

Library of Congress 2016 = Library of Congress, Ainsworth Rand Spofford (1825-1908). 6th Librarian of Congress 1864-1897, [web page], 2016, .

Library of Congress. Descriptive Cataloging Division 1944 = Library of Congress. Descriptive Cataloging Division, Cooperative cataloging manual: for the use of contributing libraries, Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1944, .

Lubetzky 1953 = Seymour Lubetzky, Development of Cataloging Rules, «Library Trends», n. 2 (1953), p. 179-186, .

Lubetzky - Connell et al. 2000 = Seymour Lubetzky - Tschera Harkness Connell et al., The future of cataloging: insights from the Lubetzky symposium. April 18, 1998, University of California, Los Angeles, Chicago, American Library Association, 2000.

McCallum 2002 = Sally H. McCallum, MARC: Keystone for Library Automation, «IEEE Annals of the History of Computing», vol. 24 (2002), n. 2, p. 34-49.

Norris 1939 = Dorothy May Norris, A history of cataloguing and cataloguing methods, 1100-1850: with an introductory survey of ancient-times, London, Grafton, 1939.

Printed catalog cards 1901 = Printed catalog cards from the Library of Congress, «Library journal», vol. 26 (1901), n. 11, p. 802-805,

Public libraries 1876 = Public libraries in the United States of America. Their history, condition and management. Special report. Department of the interior. Bureau of education, v. 2, Rules for a printed dictionary catalogue, by Charles A. Cutter, Washington, Government. Printing. Office, 1876.

The Publishers’ Weekly 1876 = The Publishers’ Weekly, vol. IX, n. 14 (1 April 1876), p. 434-435, .

Putnam 1901 = Herbert Putnam, Statement regarding the printed catalogo cards of the A.L.A. publishing board, «Library journal», vol. 26 (1901), n. 10, p. 752.

Ranganathan 1931 = S. R. Ranganathan, The five laws of library science, Madras; London, Madras Library Association; E. Goldston, 1931, .

Ranganathan 2010a = Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, Il servizio di reference, a cura di Carlo Bianchini, Firenze, Le Lettere, 2010.

Ranganathan 2010b = Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, Le cinque leggi della biblioteconomia, traduzione e note a cura di Laura Toti; saggio introduttivo di Giovanni Solimine, Firenze, Le Lettere, 2010.

Rayward 2013 = W. Boyd Rayward, From the index card to the World City: knowledge organization and visualization in the work and ideas of Paul Otlet, in Classification & visualization. Interfaces to knowledge. Proceedings of the International UDC Seminar 24-25 October 2013, the Hague, The Netherlands, edited by Aida Slavic et al., Würzburg, Ergon, 2013, p. 11-50, .

Reidsma 2008 = Matthew Reidsma,1881 edition of Charles A. Fyffe’s A History of Modern Europe, in «Et Seq. The blog of the Harvard Law School Library», 2008,

Report of the Committee 1877 = Report of the Committee on Constitution, «The American Library Journal», vol. 1 (1877), n. 7, p. 253-254.

Scott 1976 = Edith Scott, The Evolution of Bibliographic Systems in the United States, 1876-1945, «Library Trends», vol. 25 (1976), n. 1, p. 293-309 .

Solimine 1995 = Giovanni Solimine, Controllo bibliografico universale, Roma Associazione Italiana Biblioteche, 1995.

The Title-slip registry 1879 = The Title-slip registry: supplementary to the Library journal and the Publishers’ weekly, vol. 1 (1879), .

UNESCO 1949 = UNESCO, The Public Library, a living force for pupular education, Paris, UNESCO, 1949, .

Wiegand 1996 = Wayne A. Wiegand, Irrepressible reformer. A biography of Melvil Dewey, Chicago, American Library Association, 1996.

William Frederick Poole 2015a = William Frederick Poole, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015, .

William Frederick Poole 2015b = William Frederick Poole, in Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, 2015b, .

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2283-9364/7738


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Fabio Venuda

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

ISSN 2283-9364 – ISSN-L 2280-7934
The journal is hosted and mantained by ABIS-AlmaDL [privacy]