# Document (#38172)

Author
Batley, S.
Title
Classification in theory and practice
Imprint
Oxford : Chandos
Year
2005
Pages
XI, 181 S
Isbn
1-84334-083-6 (pb)
1-84334-094-1 (hb)
Series
Information professional series
Abstract
This book examines a core topic in traditional librarianship: classification. Classification has often been treated as a sub-set of cataloguing and indexing with relatively few basic textbooks concentrating solely an the theory and practice of classifying resources. This book attempts to redress the balance somewhat. The aim is to demystify a complex subject, by providing a sound theoretical underpinning, together with practical advice and promotion of practical skills. The text is arranged into five chapters: Chapter 1: Classification in theory and practice. This chapter explores theories of classification in broad terms and then focuses an the basic principles of library classification, introducing readers to technical terminology and different types of classification scheme. The next two chapters examine individual classification schemes in depth. Each scheme is explained using frequent examples to illustrate basic features. Working through the exercises provided should be enjoyable and will enable readers to gain practical skills in using the three most widely used general library classification schemes: Dewey Decimal Classification, Library of Congress Classification and Universal Decimal Classification. Chapter 2: Classification schemes for general collections. Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classifications are the most useful and popular schemes for use in general libraries. The background, coverage and structure of each scheme are examined in detail in this chapter. Features of the schemes and their application are illustrated with examples. Chapter 3: Classification schemes for specialist collections. Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress may not provide sufficient depth of classification for specialist collections. In this chapter, classification schemes that cater to specialist needs are examined. Universal Decimal Classification is superficially very much like Dewey Decimal, but possesses features that make it a good choice for specialist libraries or special collections within general libraries. It is recognised that general schemes, no matter how deep their coverage, may not meet the classification needs of some collections. An answer may be to create a special classification scheme and this process is examined in detail here. Chapter 4: Classifying electronic resources. Classification has been reborn in recent years with an increasing need to organise digital information resources. A lot of work in this area has been conducted within the computer science discipline, but uses basic principles of classification and thesaurus construction. This chapter takes a broad view of theoretical and practical issues involved in creating classifications for digital resources by examining subject trees, taxonomies and ontologies. Chapter 5: Summary. This chapter provides a brief overview of concepts explored in depth in previous chapters. Development of practical skills is emphasised throughout the text. It is only through using classification schemes that a deep understanding of their structure and unique features can be gained. Although all the major schemes covered in the text are available an the Web, it is recommended that hard-copy versions are used by those wishing to become acquainted with their overall structure. Recommended readings are supplied at the end of each chapter and provide useful sources of additional information and detail. Classification demands precision and the application of analytical skills, working carefully through the examples and the practical exercises should help readers to improve these faculties. Anyone who enjoys cryptic crosswords should recognise a parallel: classification often involves taking the meaning of something apart and then reassembling it in a different way.
Footnote
Rez. in: KO 31(2005), no.4, S.257-258 (B.H. Kwasnik): "According to the author, there have been many books that address the general topic of cataloging and indexing, but relatively few that focus solely an classification. This Compact and clearly written book promises to "redress the balance," and it does. From the outset the author identifies this as a textbook - one that provides theoretical underpinnings, but has as its main goal the provision of "practical advice and the promotion of practical skills" (p. vii). This is a book for the student, or for the practitioner who would like to learn about other applied bibliographic classification systems, and it considers classification as a pragmatic solution to a pragmatic problem: that of organizing materials in a collection. It is not aimed at classification researchers who study the nature of classification per se, nor at those whose primary interest is in classification as a manifestation of human cultural, social, and political values. Having said that, the author's systematic descriptions provide an exceptionally lucid and conceptually grounded description of the prevalent bibliographic classification schemes as they exist, and thus, the book Could serve as a baseline for further comparative analyses or discussions by anyone pursuing such investigations. What makes this book so appealing, even to someone who has immersed herself in this area for many years, as a practicing librarian, a teacher, and a researcher? I especially liked the conceptual framework that supported the detailed descriptions. The author defines and provides examples of the fundamental concepts of notation and the types of classifications, and then develops the notions of conveying order, brevity and simplicity, being memorable, expressiveness, flexibility and hospitality. These basic terms are then used throughout to analyze and comment an the classifications described in the various chapters: DDC, LCC, UDC, and some well-chosen examples of facetted schemes (Colon, Bliss, London Classification of Business Studies, and a hypothetical library of photographs).
The heart of the book lies in its exceptionally clear and well illustrated explanation of each of the classification schemes. These are presented comprehensively, but also in gratifying detail, down to the meaning of the various enigmatic notes and notations, such as "config" or "class elsewhere" notes, each simply explained, as if a teacher were standing over your shoulder leading you through it. Such attention at such a fine level may seem superfluous or obvious to a seasoned practitioner, but it is in dealing with such enigmatic details that we find students getting discouraged and confused. That is why I think this would be an excellent text, especially as a book to hold in one hand and the schedules themselves in the other. While the examples throughout and the practical exercises at the end of each chapter are slanted towards British topics, they are aptly Chosen and should present no problem of understanding to a student anywhere. As mentioned, this is an unabashedly practical book, focusing an classification as it has been and is presently applied in libraries for maintaining a "useful book order." It aims to develop those skills that would allow a student to learn how it is done from a procedural rather than a critical perspective. At times, though, one wishes for a bit more of a critical approach - one that would help a student puzzle through some of the ambiguities and issues that the practice of classification in an increasingly global rather than local environment entails. While there is something to be said for a strong foundation in existing practice (to understand from whence it all came), the author essentially accepts the status quo, and ventures almost timidly into any critique of the content and practice of existing classification schemes. This lack of a critical analysis manifests itself in several ways: - The content of the classification schemes as described in this book is treated as fundamentally "correct" or at least "given." This is not to say the author doesn't recognize anomalies and shortcomings, but that her approach is to work with what is there. Where there are logical flaws in the knowledge representation structures, the author takes the approach that there are always tradeoffs, and one must simply do the best one can. This is certainly true for most people working in libraries where the choice of scheme is not controlled by the classifier, and it is a wonderful skill indeed to be able to organize creatively and carefully despite imperfect systems. The approach is less convincing, however, when it is also applied to emerging or newly developed schemes, such as those proposed for organizing electronic resources. Here, the author could have been a bit braver in at least encouraging less normative approaches. - There is also a lingering notion that classification is a precise science. For example the author states (p. 13): Hospitality is the ability to accommodate new topics and concepts in their correct place in the schedules ... Perfect hospitality world mean that every new subject could be accommodated in the most appropriate place in the schedules. In practice, schemes do manage to fit new subjects in, but not necessarily in their most appropriate place. It world have been helpful to acknowledge that for many complex subjects there is no one appropriate place. The author touches an this dilemma, but in passing, and not usually when she is providing practical pointers.
Weitere Rez. in: Mitt. VÖB 59(2006) H.1, S.58-60 (O. Oberhauser).
Theme
Grundlagen u. Einführungen: Allgemeine Literatur
International bedeutende Universalklassifikationen
Object
DDC
LCC
UDC
CC
BC2

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4. Riesthuis, G.J.A.: Fiction in need of transcending traditional classification (1997) 0.37
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5. Rafferty, P.: ¬The representation of knowledge in library classification schemes (2001) 0.34
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