Public Library Mngmt – Library Classification

Classification is nothing but sorting and organizing the lot of ideas or material in a systematic manner. This helps us recognize an object from others and differentiate it. Classification of knowledge resources is of great concern in Public Libraries.

The fundamental idea of classification in libraries is sorting the knowledge resources based on differences and then grouping them together based on the similarities so that they can be better organized and retrieved.

What is Library Classification?                             

Library classification is a method by which the knowledge resources are arranged in a systematic manner so that the library staff can retrieve them efficiently from a large collection.

Purpose of Library Classification

Classification has a gross purpose in library. It facilitates −

●      The library staff to arrange, know the location of, and replace the knowledge element in less efforts.

●      The users to get the exact knowledge element they are interested in.

●      Addition of the new knowledge element into the existing repository or withdrawal of it.

●      Track the repository up-to-date.

●      Revealing strengths and weaknesses of the collection.

●      Checking inventory.

Features of Classification Scheme

A classification scheme includes the following features −

ScheduleIt is a list of logically arranged main classes, divisions, and subdivisions with a relevant classification symbol.
IndexIt is an alphabetical list of all the subjects taken care of by the scheme, with the relevant class mark against each subject. There are relative and specific indices.
NotationIt is the system of symbols used to represent the terms employed by the classification scheme. There are two types of notations: Pure (Either alphabets or Numbers) and Mixed (alphanumeric).
TablesThese are additional to the schedules and provide lists of symbols.
Form ClassIt is a class which preserves the form of book than the subject. For example, Fiction, Poetry are the forms whereas Science, Engineering are the subjects.
Generalities ClassThis class encompasses all general works such as GK books, general encyclopedias, general periodicals, which cannot be allotted to any specific subject.

Public Library Classification Schemes

There are three classification systems depending on how they are used −

●      Universal − They cover all schemes used around the world.

●      For example, DDC, UDC, and LCC.

●      Specific − They cover only particular subjects or types of materials.

●      For example, British Catalogue of Music.

●      National − They are specially created for specific countries.

●      For example, Swedish Library Classification scheme.

In terms of functionality, these schemes can be divided into the following three types −

●      Enumerative − Here, all the possible classes are enumerated according to specific characteristics and further the subordinate classes are produced by following topdown approach of classification. This scheme uses predefined class numbers. For example, DDC.

●      Analytico-Synthetic − Here, a subject is divided into its elements and classification scheme is used to find notations for each element. This scheme uses specific notations and symbols and facilitates flexible class number construction instead of its selection. For example, UDC.

●      Faceted − It lists various facets of each subject or main class, conducts facet analysis, and constructs class numbers depending upon a set of rules. For example, CC.

Normative Principles of Library Classification

The normative principles of cataloging were included in the Theory of Library Catalogue, which was published in 1938. According to Dr. S. R. Ranganathan, there are three fundamental terms that govern the preparation of cataloging codes. They are −

●      Law − It is the accurate and correct statement defining facts or the rules of what or what not to do. For example, Newton’s Laws.

●      Canon − It is a general standard by which an initial judgement can be formed. For example, the first order divisions of knowledge resources in the library.

●      Principle − It is a method or procedure strictly followed while cataloging. For example, forming call numbers in a particular fashion depending upon the cataloging scheme.

Standard Classification Schemes in Public Libraries

Here are some basic classification schemes employed in public libraries −

Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC)

This is a world-wide system of library classification. More than 135 countries use it and it has been translated into more than 30 languages. It is used for browsing mechanism for resources on the Internet.

The following table lists out the basic classes of information −

Dewery NumberClassKnowledge Element
000 – 099Computer Science, Information & General WorksEncyclopedia, almanacs, Record books such as Guinness
100 – 199Philosophy & PsychologyEthics, Behavior, Ghosts, Morals
200 – 299ReligionMythology, Religious stories
300 – 399Social sciencesGovernment, Education, Fairy Tales, Community
400 – 499LanguageSign language, Scripts, Foreign Languages
500 – 599Natural ScienceMath, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy, Animals and Plants
600 – 699Applied Science & TechnologyPets, Transportation, Drugs, Inventions, Cooking
700 – 799Arts & recreationArts and Crafts, Drawing, Painting, Music, Games, Sports
800 – 899LiteratureStories, Fiction, Riddles, Poems
900 – 999History & geographyCountries, Flags, Historical events, Biographies

For example, the call number “813.54 M37 2007” denotes −

Colon Classification (CC)

This is a generic system developed by Dr. Ranganathan in 1933. It uses colons (:) to categorize knowledge resources in the library. It starts with a number of main 108 classes and 10 generic classes that represent fields of knowledge. Each main class is composed of five basic facets or groups — personality, matter, energy, space, and time. Each class is analyzed and broken down into basic facets and grouped together by compiling their common attributes. This classification system is used in Indian public libraries.

There are a large number of classification systems used in libraries, which are themselves the topics of great details.

Library of Congress Classification (LCC)

This classification system was developed in 1891. This is based on 21 classes depicted by a single alphabet. Here are the basic classes under LCC −

A – General Works – encyclopediasM – Music
B – Philosophy, Psychology, ReligionN – Fine Arts
C – History – Auxiliary SciencesP – Language and Literature
D – History (except American)Q – Science
E – General U.S. HistoryR – Medicine
F – Local U.S. HistoryS – Agriculture
G – Geography, Anthropology, RecreationT- Technology
H – Social SciencesU – Military
J – Political ScienceV – Naval Science
K – LawZ – Bibliography and Library Science
L – Education 

These classes are further divided into subclasses by adding one or two letters to the initial class. Topics in the subclasses are depicted by whole numbers and can be further denoted by decimals depending upon the requirement of the specificity. This string is then appended by an alphanumeric text to identify the author, publishing date, and other details to generate a unique call number for the knowledge element.

For example, the call number “PR9190.3 M3855 L55 2008” denotes:

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

It is a 13-digit (or 10-digit number before 2007 without a 3-digit prefix) unique number used to identify books and similar material published internationally since 1970. The ISBN is composed of location, publisher, and title.

The ISBN ends with a single-digit checksum. ISBN does not send any information on the book’s subject or author that could be useful for shelving or locating the material. But it can be used to locate collection items in Amazon, and other online bibliographic data.

For example, “ISBN 0-162-01383-9”.

Universal Decimal Classification (UDC)

Two Belgian bibliographers developed this system at the end of the 19thcentury. This classification system is also called the Brussels Classification. This is based on DDC with significantly large vocabulary and symbols to create detailed content related to the piece of work and in turn retrieve it efficiently. It uses 0 ->9 class numbers that depict various subjects and auxiliary symbols (+, :, ::, *, A/Z, etc.) to denote the relation between them.

For example, the call number “94(410) “19” (075)”. This depicts History (main class) of United Kingdom (place) in 20th century (time), a textbook (form).

Latest Trends in Library Classification

In today’s world of propelling growth of Information technology, the changing and increasing content, varied information formats, and user expectations have made the catalogers’ work more challenging.

●      Cataloging has changed to highest complexity.

●      In multicultural societies the catalogers are expected to be multilingual, capable of handling catalogs in different languages and non-roman scripts.

●      Catalogers are also expected to be IT-literate.

●      Print media remains constantly desirable.

●      New electronic formats have emerged rapidly such as ePub, PDF, Audio/Video files. Constantly changing technology needs catalogers to keep pace with it and handle different formats.

●      Modern cataloguer needs to understand various metadata schemes developed for information resources, identify objectives of the schemes, and select appropriate scheme for cataloging.

●      Joint Steering Committee has recently prepared a new addition of cataloging rules for publication. It decided that the new cataloguing code will be termed as, “Resource Description and Access” or RDA, which will provide international standard rules for cataloging in the field of international information exchange.

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