The compilation of the Répertoire Bibliographique Universel by the Institut International de Bibliographie, 1895-1914

Akira Nemoto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The bibliographic work, especially the compilation of the Répertoire Bibliographique Universel (RBU), of the Institut International de Bibliographie (IIB, the forerunner of the FID) was one of the most important experiment that would lead to today's international librarianship, documentation and information science. This article describes its history during the period between the beginning and the World War I, when the work was the most active and the most successful for the leaders. They compiled the RBU through the process that they received various bibliographies and library catalogues either in book form or in card form, cut them into bibliographic entries, and filed them in the order of authors' names and decimal classification numbers they had added if possible. They regarded the RBU which should have been appeared if they had completed it as the catalogue of human knowledge. They studied the DC and changed it into the UDC because they believed the classification played a very important role in their activities. Their method was very primitive and amateurish. We think it was not the macrocosmic approach of bibliographic organization but the uncontrolled unification of microcosmic ones. Their eventual failure told us that the time had passed when a single body could make a universal bibliography. But the idea that the compilation of an international bibliography can contribute to the world cultural and scientific exchange and the world peace has been inherited now. And tools such as the UDC which were byproducts in putting the idea into practice have been used world-widely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-36
Number of pages16
JournalLibrary and Information Science
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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