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Cataloging Standards

Descriptive Cataloging

To ensure that library materials are easy to search and to find, they are all entered into the library’s on-line catalog according to internationally accepted standards.

AACR2r: Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, revised edition; rules used for describing library materials for catalog entry.

MARC21: Machine-Readable Cataloging (, 21st edition; a system of formatting catalog records that enables a computer to recognize the elements and manipulate them for various purposes.

Subject Cataloging

LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings ( are used for English language materials and any languages other than Arabic & French.

The authority files of BN-OPALE PLUS are used for assigning French subject headings.

QRMAK: Qa'imat Ru'us al-Mawdu'at al-Arabiyah al-Qiyasiyah lil-Maktabat wa-Marakiz al-Ma‘lumat wa-Qawa'id al-Bayanat (List of Standard Arabic Subject Headings for Libraries, Information Centers and Databases); a special subject cataloging manual used for Arabic materials.

MAAQ: Madakhil al-Asma' al-'Arabiyah al-Qadimah (Entries for Arabic Personal Names from the Classical Period); a manual authority list used for authorizing Arabic Personal names from the Classical Period.

The Integrated Library System VTLS / VIRTUA

VIRTUA is both the public interface of the library’s cataloging activities and the behind-the-scenes backbone. The public interface, the system’s Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), is what users see when they search for a particular item from the library’s holdings. Behind the scenes, VIRTUA provides fully integrated support for all of the library’s cataloging, acquisitions, circulation, inventory, and reporting needs.

Call Numbers

Bibliotheca Alexandrina uses Dewey Decimal Classification, 21st edition (DDC21), combined with the Cutter-Sanborn author tables to create a unique call number for each item cataloged. Call numbers are formatted as follows:


Closed Stacks

Certain books are selected for closed stack storage according to criteria set by the BA librarians. Items found in the closed stacks include:

  • Books with supplementary materials (i.e. CDs, discs, maps, etc.);
  • Limited editions;
  • Multiple copies (more than two);
  • Out of print titles;
  • Fragile books ;
  • Loose leaf pages;
  • Expensive art books;
  • Theses and dissertations; and
  • Books containing outdated or superseded information, but which are valuable for historical research.