Erin E. McCabe’s Response #6: PMEST to Impress (Ranganathan v. Dewey)

After last week, I was feeling encouraged – safe even – in the better understanding that many of these reading were more to elucidate the theory of cataloging and classification, rather than its direct application. So, while I enjoyed the looser style of the Dewey and Ranganathan articles, it had a hint of reinforcing the idea that one must be a little neurotic-obsesive to grasp some of the ideas.

Just when I thought there weren’t any more possible terms to apply to the “things to consider” in the library classification realm, we get to PMEST. PMEST?

I’d still have liked the example to go a little further to better grasp how PMEST is “starting with the object before creating the slot”, rather than the vice versa of Dewey (“indexing terms that had to be thought out before the object being described could fit into the system”). Keeping my group project [Non-Western Cataloging] in mind, I’d be interested to hear the details of Ranganathan’s “ideas emerged from his background in mathematics and his beliefs in Hindu mysticism” – that seems a sort of strange and unlikely consideration.

Overall, it was a nice note to end on for me, hearing that Ranganathan was a “diligent evangelist of getting information to people who needed it”. The social aspect of cataloging is about accessibility in a very democratic sense and one that it seems Dewey cared for little.


About Erin E. McCabe

Publisher relations and content development assistant at JSTOR. Master's candidate in Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute.

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