This study is an attempt to answer one basic question: What does a large research library do when its catalog shows signs of deterioration? The catalog in question, consisting of some nine million cards, is the Main Public Catalog of the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library. The greater part of this report is devoted to the technical details of preserving the present catalog and planning for the future.
Certain basic considerations underlying the entire study, however, make it pertinent to the interests of libraries and librarians in general as well as others in the field of information science. Among these are the adequacy of a system of book catalogs to meet the needs of both readers and staff; the oftentimes conflicting of public service and the desire for economy and efficiency; the relationship of a large, privately supported research library to other information sources and networks within a metropolitan area, the surrounding region, and the nation; the opportunity to take advantage of rapidly developing possibilities in the application of data processing methods to library operations; and the task of preserving an important bibliographic resources.
The major conclusions and recommendations of the study are that the catalogs of The Research Libraries of Ney Work Public Library be divided chronologically at the earliest possible date; that the present Public Catalog be reproduced photographically at the earliest possible date; that the present Public Catalog be reproduced photographically in book form; and that the future catalogs will be and from be produced in a combination of card and book form from a store machine-readable data.