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The 800-volume Dictionary Catalog of the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library, 1911-1972, also known as the "black books" or "retrospective" catalog, contains records of books and periodicals acquired by the Library prior to 1972. It is a photographic copy, in book form, of the Library's card catalog. This catalog is available in many locations throughout the New York Public Library, and in many other libraries around the world.
A typical page comprises 21 cards, each one numbered sequentially at the bottom. Some of the Library's holdings are not included--neither those of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture nor those of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (except for books and serials). Holdings of the Map Division (except for books and serials) and some special collections such as Manuscripts and Archives and the Arents Collection, plus works in non-romanized alphabets from the Jewish, Asian and Middle Eastern, and Slavic and Baltic Divisions are also not included. These collections have separate divisional book catalogs which can be consulted in the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room. In addition, many of these holdings are being added to the Library's online catalog, CATNYP, which represents materials cataloged from 1972-present.
The Dictionary Catalog is primarily an author and subject catalog, with a minimum number of entries for titles, interfiled in one alphabet. Information about the filing order of the catalog may be found at the beginning of each volume. The books and periodicals in the Dictionary Catalog have been converted to machine-readable form and are available in the online catalog, CATNYP. However, there are many thousands of indexing entries that analyze the contents of periodicals and other serial publications and these can only be found in the Dictionary Catalog and the other printed catalogs of The Research Libraries.
To search for works by an author, look under that author's last name. Works about the author (e.g., biography or criticism) will appear following works by that author. For especially voluminous authors, such as Shakespeare, there is a specific filing order, starting with complete works. Information about the filing order for these authors will be found just before the first entry under their name.
To search for works on a subject, look under the subject heading, which appears at the top of the card, usually in all capital letters. If you are in doubt about which heading to use, ask a librarian; there is a six-volume listing of Dictionary Catalog subject headings at the Information Desk. Some of them may seem illogical or outdated from a late-20th-century point of view; for example, the heading for World War I is EUROPEAN WAR, 1914-1918. Also, subject headings frequently proceed from a general to a specific concept; for example, the heading for the American Civil War is UNITED STATES--HISTORY--CIVIL WAR, 1861-1865.
To search for a title (for example, that of a book without a named author, or of a periodical), omit initial articles and other small words in the title. For example, if you are looking for the title of the book The London and Country Brewer, look under London Country Brewer. In the Dictionary Catalog,periodical publications of an organization or learned society typically appear under the name of the organization as corporate author (e.g., Hakluyt Society; Museum of Modern Art, N.Y.) However, many of these have been converted into CATNYP and will be found there, too.
Certain works file in a specific order under a general (or "form") title because there are so many different editions. For entries under the title Bible, for example, look at the very beginning to see how they are filed.
In the Dictionary Catalog, the call number (or "classmark" or call letters) is whatever you see in the upper-righthand corner of the card. Two classification systems were used in the catalog. The Billings system, devised by the Library's first librarian, consists of letters of the alphabet, sometimes preceded by an asterisk (*) and sometimes accompanied by other symbols:
IAG p.v. 99, no. 4
AN (Douglass, F.)
VTI n.c. 23
The "fixed-order" system, in use after the mid-fifties, consists of a combination of letters and numbers in this typical pattern: A-10 1234, or more recently JFK 71-1234. The most authoritative information about a work in the Dictionary Catalog is found under the main entry, which is usually the author.
The 800-volume Dictionary Catalog of the Research Libraries of The New York Public Library, 1911-1971 can be found in the following libraries worldwide:
- University of Arizona
- California State University, Fresno* Los Angeles Public Library* Stanford University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Davis*
University of California, Los Angeles (Research Library)
University of Southern California
- Yale University
- Florida State University
University of Florida
- University of Georgia, Athens
- Indiana University, Bloomington
Purdue University, West Lafayette
University of Notre Dame
- Chicago Public Library*
Newberry Library, Chicago
University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
- Kansas State University
University of Kansas
- Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
- University of Maryland
- Boston Public Library
- University of Michigan
- University of Missouri, Kansas City
- Princeton University Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Rugters University, Newark (Dana Library)
- Brooklyn College
Columbia University (Butler Library)
New York State Library
New York University (Bobst Library)
SUNY Buffalo (Lockwood Library)
SUNY Stony Brook
University of Rochester
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie
- Ohio State University
- University of Oklahoma, Norman*
University of Tulsa
- Penn. State University
University of Pennsylvania
- Brown University
- Dallas Public Library
- University of Wisconsin, Madison
- National Library of Australia, Canberra*
- McGill University, Montreal*
National Library of Canada, Ottawa*
University of Toronto
- Hochschule der Bundeswehr, Hamburg
Staatsbibliothek, West Berlin
Univers. Bibliothek, Bochum
- United Publishers (distributor; buyers unknown)
- Biblioteca nacional, mexico D.F.*
- Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague
- University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
- State Library, Pretoria
- Zentralbibliothek, Zurich (Kantons, Stadt und univ. Bibliothek)
- British Library, London
John Ryalnds U. Library, Manchester, England
Mitchell Library, Glasgow, Scotland
University of Oxford (Bodleian Library)
Picture of the Day
Marx brothers: Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo. Billy Rose Theatre Collection.
One of 700,000 pictures in the NYPL Digital Gallery