Cataloguing Tools

Cataloguing allows us to organize our resources in a logical way, make them easy to find, and provide record of what we have. There are two aspects of cataloguing: descriptive cataloguing - recording basic details about a book or other source of information such as author's name, publishing information, date etc.; and subject cataloguing - analysing the content or determining what a book is about. For practical information on how to organize and describe books, refer to the Healthlink Worldwide Resource Center Manual, an ALADIN-recommended training manual.

This section of the Toolkit addresses the subject of cataloguing. You will find a basic ALADIN classification, which serves as a guideline on how you could organize information on the book shelves. Using a strict classification scheme ensures that books on the same subject stand next to each other. The next tool is a basic list of ALADIN subject categories and keywords. It consists of a list of major subject categories that may be represented in your collection. Your collection may not necessarily have resources in all these areas. Select those that are relevant to your own collection. Each of the subject categories includes also a list of keywords that further describe the content of your book. Each book should be assigned only ONE major category, but you can choose as many keywords as needed. For example, a book on family literacy that includes general articles, case studies, information about specific programmes and some statistics would be assigned to the LITERACY category and described by the following keywords: Family literacy; Case study; Literacy programmes; Literacy statistics. You should choose the most relevant keywords; remember that you are not limited to the keywords listed under the specific category - select an appropriate keyword from any place in the list - as long as they are relevant to your book. In our example, the book on family literacy may also include articles on health education so Health education should also be selected as a keyword.

If you need more terms, ALADIN links you to three other tools (Thesauri) where you can find more keywords: the UNESCO Thesaurus and the Canadian Literacy Thesaurus.


How to classify material


Useful and practical information on how to organize your collection of materials can be found in the Healthlink Worldwide Resource Center Manual that we recommend. This section of the ALADIN Toolkit provides an outline of a simple ALADIN classification system that can be used in and adopted to specific needs of your centre. It provides means to organize and group together books on the same subject, however it addresses only areas related to adult education and learning. To organize books on general subjects such as Arts, Culture, Religion, Science etc. ALADIN recommends using the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). You will find a basic DDC classification at the end of this chapter.


Basic ALADIN Classification


Adult Education and Learning: AEL

Civil Society: CSO

Community Development: CDE


Each of the main subject categories on the ALADIN list of subject terms include a corresponding three-letter code:


The ALADIN classification consists of letters and numbers representing main subject category, secondary subject, and author’s name.

The following example explains how a particular number should be built:

Let’s assume that a documentation centre has a fairly large collection of books on literacy. Since the books address different aspects of Literacy, the documentation centre decided to divide it further and provide their users with means of finding them together on the centre’s shelves. From the ALADIN list of terms 10 terms under literacy were selected as secondary subject categories. Selected items are in bold.






Adult literacy                        

Basic education     

Basic skills                             

Family literacy      

Functional literacy


Literacy achievement            

Literacy centres    

Literacy classes                     

Literacy learners                   

Literacy materials                 

Literacy methods  

Literacy organizations           

Literacy programmes           

Literacy statistics  

Literacy tests                         

Literacy workers                   


Mother-tongue literacy        

New literates                        

Second language literacy      

Women’s literacy                 

Workplace literacy



Adult Literacy: 01

Family Literacy: 02

Literacy Centres: 03


Civil Society: CSO

Community Development: CDE


Each selected secondary subject term was assigned a number from 1-10 e.g.


LIT 01      Material on Adult Literacy

LIT 02      Material on Family Literacy

LIT 03      Material on Literacy Centres


These numbers were added to a three letter main subject category: Literacy = LIT


Finally, for further differentiation, the first three letters of an author’s surname or an organization were added, e.g. a book on Family literacy by John Brown would have the following classification number: LIT 02 BRO.


This system is flexible to allow adding more terms and corresponding numbers when needed – for example- if later on the documentation centre acquires 5 books on literacy and work, it can create another category, Workplace literacy.


This classification system does not provide a unique number i.e. it is possible that a documentation centre will have three books on adult literacy authored by UNESCO – therefore all three will have the same classification number. However, in small centres that should not be a problem.


Dewey Decimal Classification

The ALADIN classification is appropriate for books on a variety of subjects related to adult education and learning. To handle books on general subjects such as Arts, Culture, Religion, Science etc. ALADIN recommends using the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). Please find below its basic divisions. For more information on DDC and how to use it in your collection consult the DDC  homepage, where you can find a free 30-day trial of the WebDewey.




000          Computer science, information and general works

100          Philosophy and psychology

200          Religion

300          Social sciences

400          Language

500          Science

600          Technology

700          Arts and recreation

800          Literature

900          History and geography