Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 22, Number 2 1996

By Valerie Bross (California State University--Stanislaus)

Classification: Options and Opportunities. Edited by Alan R. Thomas (Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 1995).

Cataloging & Classification Quarterly_ has a tradition of producing issues of high quality. This volume, titled Classification: Options and Opportunities, (CCQ, volume 19, no. 3/4), is one such excellent issue, also published as a monograph. The authors include well-established experts such as Derek W. Langridge and Lois Mai Chan, as well as recent authors--whose work I will now watch for--such as Gertrude S. Koh. The volume is edited and organized by Alan R. Thomas.

The articles are loosely grouped into five themes: "Basic Design Considerations," "Options within Standard Classification Systems," "Alternative Classification Systems," "Combination Platters and Reclassification," and "Classification and the New Technology."

As may be guessed by these groupings, the articles represent a range of interests and perspectives--general, pragmatic, specialized, descriptive, speculative.

D.W. Langridge provides a general context for the study of classification. He begins by contrasting assumptions of librarians in Great Britain and the United States, and discussing approaches to development of classification schemes. A.R. Thomas builds on this general discussion with a summary of the ideas of H.E. Bliss.

These two opening essays are followed by an article comparing classification to thesaurus-building, by B.H. Weinberg; and a very useful discussion by R.M. Losee on issues to consider when choosing a classification scheme.

Next, in an original essay, E.C. Short proposes a purpose-based framework for classification in college and university libraries. He distinguishes among four categories of higher education: general education, specialized education, education of researchers, and education of educators. Each of the four categories, he asserts, would require "a different system of organizing the relevant knowledge." This provocative article should generate discussion.

Continuing in a pragmatic vein, L.M. Chan takes a fresh look at alternative locations in LC classification. Her article, of general interest, should be especially useful for new catalogers. Her discussion is followed by a presentation by J.S. Mitchell on options offered by Dewey Decimal Classification.

For those involved in comparative classification, the volume offers articles on Bliss Classification (A.R. Thomas), Universal Decimal Classification (P.D. Strachan and F.M.H. Oomes), and Billings Classification--a scheme local to the Research Libraries of New York Public Library (K.M. Hsu). Next, R.C. Winke explores the question, "Why do libraries decide to use multiple classification schemes?" This article, interestingly, is the result of an AUTOCAT discussion group survey; it reflects the use of electronic networking for research.

Librarians involved in local debates of whether to reclassify from Dewey Decimal Classification to Library of Congress will be grateful for J.D. Chressanthis' summary of historical and current justifications, as well as for her extensive footnotes. This information is extended by L.W. Pattie's discussion of how the University of Kentucky used its automated system (NOTIS) to facilitate a reclassification project.

Technology is also the focus of the last two articles in the volume. Exploring classification issues in the online catalog environment, G.S. Koh draws on the research of K. Markey- Drabenstott, P. Cochrane, E. Svenonius, C. Mandel, C. Hildreth, and others. Her list of references may prove as valuable to readers as her article.

Finally, R. Trotter describes the use of the CD-ROM version of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

With such a diversity of perspectives and issues addressed, library science instructors and cataloging librarians are sure to find at least one theme of interest in the volume.

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