Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 21, Number 2 1996

Table of Contents

Single or multiple copies of these articles may be obtained on Informaworld

EDITORIAL By Ruth Carter

New Roles for Classification in Libraries and Information Networks. Pauline Atherton Cochrane

Paper Abstracts:

Classification, Present and Future.  Lois Mai Chan (University of Kentucky, College of Library and Information Science)
ABSTRACT. Recent developments in the way information is generated, packaged. and accessed have broadened and changed the nature and application of classification in library and information networks. This brief presentation examines the role of classification by posing the following questions: what do we classify? how do we classify? and why do we classify? Within this context, the expanding role of classification in information retrieval and management is examined in terms of how classification affects accessing, browsing, identifying, navigating, mapping and evaluating information and how it is and may be used in collection and database management, controlled vocabulary construction and development, and research.

Qualities of Classification Schemes for the Information Superhighway. Pat Moholt (Columbia University Health Sciences)
Introduction. For my segment of this program I'd like to focus on some basic qualities of classification schemes. These qualities are critical to our ability to truly organize knowledge for access. As I see it, there are at least five qualities of note. The first one of these properties that I want to talk about is "authoritative." By this I mean standardized, but I mean more than standardized with a built in consensus-building process. A classification scheme constructed by a collaborative, consensus-building process carries the approval, and the authority, of the discipline groups that contribute to it and that it affects... The next property of classification systems is "expandable," living, responsive, with a clear locus of responsibility for its continuous upkeep. The worst thing you can do with a thesaurus, or a classification scheme, is to finish it. You can't ever finish it because it reflects ongoing intellectual activity... The third property is "intuitive." That is, the system has to be approachable, it has to be transparent, or at least capable of being transparent. It has to have an underlying logic that supports the classification scheme but doesn't dominate it... The fourth property is "organized and logical."   I advocate very strongly, and agree with Lois Chan, that classification must be based on a rule-based structure, on somebody's world-view of the syndetic structure...   The fifth property is "universal" by which I mean the classification scheme needs be useable by any specific system or application, and be available as a language for multiple purposes.

The Future of Classification in Libraries and Networks, a Theoretical Point of View. Ingetraut Dahlberg (International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO), Frankfurt, Germany.)
ABSTRACT.  Some time ago, some people said classification is dead, we don't need it any more. They probably thought that subject headings could do the job of the necessary subject analysis and shelving of books. However, all of a sudden in 1984 the attitude changed, when an OCLC study of Karen Markey started to show what could be done even with an "outdated system" such as the Dewey Decimal Classification in the computer, once it was visible on a screen to show the helpfulness of a classified library catalogue called an OPAC; classification was brought back into the minds of doubtful librarians and of all those who thought they would not need it any longer.

But the problem once phrased: "We are stuck with the two old systems, LCC and DDC" would not find a solution and is still with us today. We know that our systems are outdated but we seem still to be unable to replace them with better ones. What then should one do and advise, knowing that we need something better? Perhaps a new universal ordering system which more adequately represents and mediates the world of our present day knowledge? If we were to develop it from scratch, how would we create it and implement it in such a way that it would be acceptable to the majority of the present intellectual world population?

DDC 21 and Beyond: The Dewey Decimal Classification Prepares for the Future. Joan S. Mitchell (Dewey Decimal Classification, OCLC Forest Press, Library of Congress, Decimal Classification Division, Washington, DC)
ABSTRACT. The Dewey Decimal Classification is preparing for the future in a number of ways. Editorial work is supported by a UNIX-based system and access to online bibliographic databases. Two editions of Electronic Dewey have been published and a Windows version is under development The Classification is continuously revised to keep pace with knowledge. Various changes have been introduced to address classifier convenience, modern classification design principles, and electronic distribution. A Dewey research agenda has been identified to guide future development and explore new opportunities. I will describe a few of the changes underway and suggest some questions to guide future directions for the Dewey Decimal Classification.

Preparing Traditional Classifications for the Future: Universal Decimal Classification. Ia Mcllwaine (School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College of London)
ABSTRACT. Although my prime intention is to concentrate on how the UDC is developing and to outline some of the plans that we have for its future, I think I should begin by briefly sketching in a little of its recent past for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the events of the past four or five years. Alan Gilchrist, at the 5th International Study Conference on Classification Research held at Toronto in 1991, explained how the then UDC Management Board set up a Task Force to look into the future of the scheme, and it held its first meeting in the summer of 1989.  I was invited to be the chairman of this committee, which reported in 1991. As the result of recommendations made in the report of the Task Force, it was decided that the classification up to the level of between 60,000 and 70,000 subdivisions, should be converted into a machine-readable format, that the complex system of revision committees and international consultations should be disposed of, and that a small Advisory Panel should be set up in their stead to oversee the revision process. At about the same time the "ten-year rule" was rescinded. This practice of freezing a number for that period of time before it could be re-used slowed down revision. In January 1992 FID ceased to have overall responsibility for the scheme and this passed to a Consortium of publishers.

BC2 &BSO: Presentation at 36th Allerton Institute, 1994, Session on Preparing Traditional Classifications for the Future. E. J. Coates (BSO Panel Ltd)
ABSTRACT.  This article pertains to two further general classifications, which, in contrast to the reigning classifications just mentioned, incorporate in a thoroughgoing manner a modem view of the world. One of these was announced in 1910, to a chorus of disapproval, saw the light of day as a completed scheme in 1935, fell into suspended animation after the death of its author in the 1950s, and was revived, drastically revised and expanded in England by Jack Mills in 1967. A large part of the expanded scheme has appeared in the form of separately published fascicles; the remainder mostly in the areas of science and technology are in an advanced state of preparation. I refer of course to the Bliss Bibliographic Classification. I use the expression "of course" with some slight hesitation having once met a North American library school academic who thought that Henry Evelyn Bliss was an Englishman who lived in the London inner suburb of Islington. This was an unconscious tribute to Jack Mills, though perhaps unfair to Bliss himself, not to mention America, whose son he was.

Classification -- An Administrator's Perspective. Janet Swan Hill (University of Colorado-Boulder Libraries)
ABSTRACT.  As I have listened to descriptions of substantial changes being worked on in the various classification schemes, and as I have heard exhortations to librarians to get involved in applying classification to areas that most of us currently don't touch, I have been reminded of a T-shirt slogan that was popular around the time of the Vietnam War, to wit: "It's hard to remember that the original objective was to drain the swamp when you're up to your ass in alligators." And frankly, that's where most administrators find themselves- in the swamp, fending off alligators. Perhaps it was a process of free association that made me come up with a rather dismal mnemonic to identify what I see as the greatest challenges for a library administrator trying to deal with classification: MIA

"What Lies Ahead for Classification in Information Networks?" Report of a Panel Discussion. Brendan Wyly, Reporter (Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Introduction.  Ia McIlwaine, head of the Classification Research Group and editor of the UDC, noticed that the session's title invited crystal ball gazing, a talent she denied possessing. However, she admitted that she had asked the Classification Research Group to engage in such an exercise with her. The Group found, like the participants at the Allerton Institute were finding, that the contemplation of classification's future provided more questions than answers, but the questions were well worth considering. Her talk focused around a problem which originates in the difference between classifiers' uses and users' uses for classification systems. For users, who speak with the paraphrased self-confidence of Humpty Dumpty, a subject is a subject because they say it is. McIlwaine pointed out that this process of "saying" is at the heart of the users' needs which should be addressed by classification systems. Users use words to approach information systems and their associated classification systems. Classifiers need to recognize that this is the use to which their systems will be put. A body of users external to the classification process will make very different demands upon the system as compared to the users of the classification system who are also the creators of the system. Users desire information grouped for individual usefulness, and the groupings need to be according to words through which users can approach the system.

Classification in Libraries and Networks Abroad: Report of a Panel Discussion.   Ann Marie Ziadie (Graduate School of Library and In-formation Science, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)
Introduction.  Ia McIlwaine discussed the importance of addressing the issue of lack of user-friendly access to systems for users located in many parts of the world. The diversity of the European classification systems is a case in point. A good example of how to handle this diversity, in her opinion, is the system at the Federal Technical University in Zurich. It has an especially user-friendly French and German interface which, along with UDC numbers, provides captions helpful for the average user. Having examined the problems associated with transnational copy cataloging she emphasized the consideration of cultural constructs in transnational cataloging. For example, the Islamic countries tend to adapt translations quite well in their classification schemes due to the fact that they possess greater literary warrant in Islam. China appears to have solved difficulties concerning transnational copy cataloging by incorporating Chinese materials into specialized classification schemes while utilizing MARC records in the national library for cataloging Western materials.  Philip Bryant called for the balance of "utopian vision" with practicality. He stressed that existing bibliographic notations must be pushed to the limit in an attempt to function with the network He applauded the continuous work of Stephen Walker, Stephen Robertson and Jill Venner for developing an online catalog (OKAPI) which allows the average user to obtain help existing in the database by using the classification system already established in the data. He emphasized the significance of the BUBL project at the University of Strathclyde, where UDC subject divisions are employed as a means of dividing subjects into fairly large groupings.

Critical Appraisal of the Use of Classification in the Future: Non- Traditional Uses of Classification. Report of a Panel Discussion. Shirley Lincicum, Reporter (Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
IntroductionDagobert Soergel opened the discussion by saying, "Users need our help to find and make sense of information."  He said that he believes that classification can provide much of the support users need. He sees little distinction between the concept of a thesaurus and that of classification since both seek to provide structure for knowledge bases in order to facilitate information retrieval. Soergel's discussion of his concept of a multifunctional, multilingual thesaurus comprised the bulk of his presentation. This thesaurus would be a database of concepts, terms, and relationships which would include classification.   In this context, classification has a much broader set of functions than it currently does in most American libraries where classification serves primarily as a method of shelf arrangement.  The thesaurus Soergel envisions would lay out the semantic map of a field and could therefore be used as a learning tool or as a basis for research planning, or to assist users in clarifying terms and concepts. It could support indexing and searching and provide for the organization of knowledge for expert systems and other artificial intelligence applications. Among its other features, such a thesaurus could assist users in making sense of information by providing structured presentation of search results based on user needs and preferences, and it could enhance natural language processing capabilities such as automated indexing and abstracting and machine translation.

New Roles for Classification in Libraries and Information Networks: An Excerpt Bibliography. Angela R. S. Thomas
The idea that classification has more to offer than a scheme for shelf arrangement is not new. This collection of articles attests to the idea that classification has an important role to play as technology changes the way information is stored and retrieved from libraries and information networks.
Bibliography compiled by Angela R. S. Thomas with acknowledgements to Pauline A. Cochrane. Sponsored by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign

Classification Access in the Online Catalog. Elaine Broadbent (Marriott Library, University of Utah)
ABSTRACT. With the development during the last few years of the USMARC Format for Classification Data, the potential for improving call number browsing in online catalogs has increased dramatically. For example, it is now possible to create various types of indexes to classification numbers in the online catalog. Two types of possible indexes, a chain index and an index using Library of Congress subject headings as an index to the Library of Congress classification are discussed and examples given in appendices. It is also noted that these two indexes are only two of various forms an online index to classification numbers could take.

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