New Roles for Classification in Libraries and Information Networks

Pauline Atherton Cochrane

The 36th Allerton Institute, sponsored by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Graduate School of Library and Information Science was held at the University of Illinois Conference Center near Monticello, Illinois on October 23-25, 1994. The theme centered around new roles for library classification in the electronic age. Representatives of six of the world's most used library classifications presented papers and demonstrations to show how traditional uses for shelf arrangement will be expanded to include uses on the Internet, World Wide Web, Library homepages and in other networks. Several of these papers will be included in this issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly: Joan S. Mitchell for Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), Ia Mcllwaine for the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC), Eric Coates for both the Broad System of Ordering (BSO) and the Bliss Classification (BC). (Other issues of this journal will cover the National Library of Medicine and Library of Congress Classification.)

An international trio of keynote addresses by Lois Chan, Ingetraut Dahlberg, and Pat Moholt faced the future and found several roles for library classification systems if they can match the growing need for organization of electronic resources.

Several panels representing varying viewpoints was the vehicle for hearing from participants at the Allerton Conference. Some of these discussions were covered by student reporters and are included in this issue (Ann Marie Ziadie for the discussion of networks abroad; Shirley Lincicum for those discussing non-traditional uses of classification; and Brendan Wyly for those focusing on information networks). Janet Swan Hill's paper, included here, is representative of the panel of library administrators. The closing remarks by Marcia Bates and Sarah Thomas pointed to a dozen directional signals for those interested in a more meaningful role for library classification in the world of electronic information resources:

1. Exploit technology
        a. for adding class numbers to materials in digital form.
        b. for linking subject access systems like LCSH and DDC.
        c. for providing navigation and retrieval tools based on outlines of knowledge within                   classification schedules.

2. Extend the use of library classification to Internet resources.

3. Improve presentation of information in library classification schedules, including more lead in    vocabulary, more understandable scope notes, better captions, references, and indexes.

4. Share development strategies among and between various classification systems and thesauri, creating the ability to link with one another including multilingual and specialized systems.

5. Work with vendors of Online Catalogs so that these systems will include features where classification systems and thesauri can be used for file partitioning, navigation, and retrieval.

6. Build bridges from the past (e.g., library collections classified by DDC, LCC, etc.) to the future (e.g., digitized full text collections).

7. Educate consumers, administrators, and practitioners about the value of library classification systems beyond mere shelf arrangement.

8. Conduct more end-user research to determine utility of library classification systems new and improved.

9. Reach out to other professions for ideas, stimulation, collaboration, and convergence on the problem of organizing networked information.

10. Challenge the status quo in the realm of library and networked information systems and services.

II. Make the classification schemes more educational so that the user can be guided to see relationships and cognate information they might not otherwise have known.

12. Organize the classification schemes differently for the end-user than for the classifier and provide more than one scheme for users to browse and navigate before and after retrieval

In the spirit of information exchange a bibliography was compiled and an electronic mailing list, CLASIF-L, was opened. The original version of the bibliography distributed to participants is included in this issue.

Pauline Atherton Cochrane, Ph.D., is Organizer of the Allerton Institute and is affiliated with the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL.

Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, Vol.21(2)1995 1995 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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