Sir Anthony Panizzi

Before the time of Cutter and Ranganthan, in 1841 Antonio Panizzi (later Sir Anthony) of British Museum published the ground-breaking “Rules for the Compilation of the Catalogue”.    Denton (2007) described the situation of early stage of cataloguing [1]

“All catalogers ran into the same problems, and there were no agreed ways to solve them. How to handle variant spellings of names and titles? How to list anonymous or pseudonymous books? Books by many people? Several books bound together into one volume? Series? Each cataloger would decide individually what to do.”

When Panizzi took charge of building the catalogue of the Museum, he and his friends drew up the famous 91 rules of cataloguing. The rules were later published as “Rules for the Compilation of the Catalogue”. A catalogue was merely a list of titles at that time.  The rules has brought up controversies and arguments. Panizzi defended,

“Yes, I require the reader to look in two places for the information he wants, because I want to tell him much more than merely whether or not the library has a particular book; yes, my rules are complicated, but that is because my rules are concerned not only with the book as a single and separate item, but also as a complex of editions and translations of potential interest to an acquiring reader . . .

“a reader may know the work he requires; but he cannot be expected to know all the peculiarities of different editions, and this information he has a right to expect from the catalogues.”[1]

Libraries had an obligation to inform users all other information related to the work users were searching.  His rules included instructions on how to record author names and titles and how to handle anonymous works.

The Objects and Means of a catalogue in Cutter’s  Rules for a Dictionary Catalogue predicted the ways library users wanted to search for an item and ensure the catalogue will provide the access

With these rules of catalogue, libraries can be as Ranaganthan said, “Every book its reader, Every reader his/her book” (2nd and 3rd Laws).


[1] Denton, W. (2007) FRBR and the History of Cataloging.  Chapter 3 of Understanding FRBR: What It Is and How It Will Affect Our Retrieval Tools”, edited by Arlene G. Taylor (2007)
(The chapter is downloadable at