Death of the “Dictionary Catalog”? Was: Name order in access points

Posting to Autocat

This issue actually raises an even bigger issue: what is the current condition of the “dictionary catalog”? The definition of “dictionary catalog,” from Cutter’s rules, 4th ed., rewritten (p. 19)
“Dictionary catalog, so called because the headings (author, title, subject, and form) are arranged, like the words in a dictionary, in alphabetical order”.

Now with the rise of keyword and different kinds of sorting options, even the idea of finding information in a list that is alphabetically arranged is really strange for an increasing number of people. I know for me, to look for something in the alphabetically arranged yellow pages or white pages of the telephone book is a strange experience now. Also, when I would be at the desk and studenta would ask if they had books overdue, I would first ask their name (doh!) and then the answer was almost invariably, “Joe” or “Jennifer”! And I would have to ask, “What is your last name?”

But seriously, many of our cataloging rules are based on the dictionary catalog, which is based on maintaining access through alphabetical order. Have modern information search and retrieval methods made the alphabetical aspect simply obsolete? In Wikipedia, the page for Smith is arranged in alphabetical order but with forename-surname order For the word “Dog” there is a disambiguation page, which is in classified order, and then at the end of the main page of “Domestic dog”, we see “List of dog breeds” and “Subspecies of Canis lupus” and “List of dogs” etc. Some of these pages have a default alphabetical order e.g. “List of dog breeds” but this list can be resorted by any field, country of origin and so on.

Does the dictionary catalog have much to do with modern information retrieval methods?



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