A public catalog, in terms of libraries, refers to a catalog that is accessible to the general public. This typically means that the catalog is available online and can be searched by anyone with an internet connection, without the need for a library card or other form of authentication. The catalog contains bibliographic information about the items in the library’s collection, such as books, journals, and other materials, and can be searched by keyword, author, title, subject, or other bibliographic data. The public catalog also allows users to check the availability of the item, place holds and request for interlibrary loan.
Some libraries may also have a public catalog that is accessible within the library, but it’s not as common as the online catalog. In this case, the public catalog would typically be a computer system or a terminal that is available for use by patrons within the library, allowing them to search the library’s collection and access information about the items.
A public catalog is different from an internal catalog which is usually accessible only to library staff and not to the general public.