The nature and purpose of the catalogue has been the focus of considerable and vigorous debate during the past decade. This article attempts to identify those topics which have been the most significant causes of the debate and discusses: the need for catalogues; users and non‐users; the nature of the bibliographic record and catalogue entry; the development of UK and LC MARC; standards, including exchange formats, the development of the ISBD, and the concept of UBC (Universal Bibliographic Control); the Anglo‐American Cataloguing Rules and the controversy over the implementation of AACR2; COM catalogues; subsets of the MARC record; co‐operatives, networks and resource sharing; and the development of subject access methods better suited to COM and online catalogues. The relevance of catalogue research activities at Bath University and elsewhere is highlighted.
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