Chowdhury Chapter 5 – Library Classification

This is a topic with which I thought I had a fair amount of familiarity having spent my entire life in libraries.  However, much to my surprise, this topic required quite a bit of study and analysis.  The fundamental explanation of the “why” of library classification was very straight forward with some reasons being:

  1. Assigning a shelf address:  A place for everything – and everything in its place.
  2. Collocating Items:  Place items of the same subject next to each other.
  3. Linking items:  This brings us back to cataloging and surrogates for the actual item.
  4. Providing Browsing Facilities:  How many times has this aspect helped us to expand our view/search/vision and find something that we did not know existed?

Then, the Chowdhury text arrived at enumerated and faceted classification schemes – and the big question at the end of the chapter namely:  What are the major differences between an enumerative and a faceted classification scheme?  While enumerated classifications were a known entity, I needed to get a clearer understanding of the faceted classification.  I could relate to an example provided of Wine – a very large, complex category having the facets of type of grape, year, region and price.  (Bai, Jeffcoat, Loveday, Moore).

Next, through our readings and other research I came away with at least this basic advantage of enumerated classification:  stability.  One classification is assigned to an object, its location on the shelf is established and there it remains.  And this strength is also its disadvantage: if the searcher is narrowly seeking something and thinks the object should be available under a different classification – well, now there is a problem since the item can only exist in one place.

As for an advantage and disadvantage of faceted classification, I read carefully over the material on Colon Classification developed by S.R. Ranganathan – but admittedly have to study this in more detail.  The initial reaction is that while his system allows for multiple classifications of an object – in reality (at least with books and other media) the item can only be shelved in one location.  (That is, unless the library has extremely deep pockets and has multiple copies of everything – placed under multiple categories.  However, I have yet to see such a situation in real life.)

Michele

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One thought on “Chowdhury Chapter 5 – Library Classification

  1. I agree with you about the problematic nature of having one object that can fit into multiple categories and therefore different places in the library. Where I used to work a big issue for us was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which is supposed to be a ‘non-fiction novel’. So do we place it with other non-fiction crime books even though it probably has fabricated/dramatized elements or with Capote’s other works for the ease of the user? (The concern was users would go to the Capote section in the fiction stacks looking for In Cold Blood and then assume it wasn’t checked in when they saw all his works except for that one.) I think we did end up placing a copy in each area, but it was a rare exception since it’s on a lot of school reading lists and we always had to have multiples available anyway.

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