Comments on the Catholic Bibliographical Index
Dr. Barbara Berfanger, Ed.D.
Former President, St. Mary’s College, Kansas
Recently I learned about the release of the Catholic Bibliographical Index by Preserving Christian Publications. My experience in research and in teaching led me to recognize quickly and without doubt that this Index offers an immense, rich resource about works by Catholic authors.
The Index is easy to navigate. Once the user gets started, he can browse by category or search the entire database. The works are listed in a wide range of categories, and the titles are numbered within each category. This feature can keep the searcher on track and save him from getting lost in a long list. The listed titles, most with brief annotations, are clear, well-spaced, and easy to read. Bold-faced headings attract reader’s attention to essential publication information.
Anyone searching for references to Catholic authors can find the Index beneficial. It can be helpful to the teacher who wants to compile a reading list to aid students following his or her courses. Secondary and college instructors will find the Index indispensable in guiding students in traditional methods of using an index as an early step in composing a research paper. By being directed to worthwhile works to consider, students can gain skill and will likely discover and appreciate some of the treasures that Catholics have inherited. The Index can yield satisfying rewards to advanced scholars and even to general readers who are pursuing specific searches.
It is a pleasure to give a hearty welcome and endorsement to this gold-mine of information.
What is the Catholic Bibliographical Index?
St. John the Evangelist ended his Gospel by stating that “many other things which Jesus did . . . if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written.” By way of analogy, while guarding the distinction between the divine and the human, one might say that no bibliography in existence can contain all the books written by Catholic authors during the two thousand years of the history of the Church.
For more than a quarter of a century, however, Preserving Christian Publications has been electronically cataloging books by Catholic authors obtained from Catholic institutions and private collections, primarily in the northeast of the United States, but also from the Midwest and Far West of the country, as well as from southeastern Canada and from Puerto Rico. The resulting bibliography of 25,409 Catholic titles is far from a complete listing of books by Catholic authors. Nevertheless we believe it serves as a useful research tool, and as an introduction to the world’s Catholic literature. Although primarily a list of Catholic books published in English, it also contains many Latin titles and books in several other languages as well.
It is not always easy to determine whether or not certain authors are Catholic, either because they are not sufficiently known to us, or because their publishing houses are not Catholic. But we have always tried to verify the Catholic identity of authors before including their works in the bibliography. In a relatively small number of cases we have included some non-Catholic writers when they wrote on Catholic subjects, but we have added “non-Catholic” after their names to distinguish them from the other authors in the list. In some rare cases we may have mistakenly included some non-Catholic authors without identifying them as such, but we are confident that such errors are very minimal. Therefore this Catholic Bibliographical Index represents the fruit of more than three decades of our work in making Catholic books better known and available to readers throughout the world.
- ed: editor
- hb: hardback
- IL: illustrated
- p: pages
- pb: paperback
- tr: translator
- v: volume
- BOW: Burns, Oates & Washbourne
- CUA: Catholic University of America
- RCB: Roman Catholic Books
- S & W: Sheed & Ward