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A manual of classification for librarians by…

A manual of classification for librarians

by W. C. Berwick Sayers

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This book, originally by Sayers and reworked throughout the years by Maltby, begins by looking at many of the common elements of classification systems (arrangement, subject analysis, order, and notation) and explores how these elements are treated in each of the major classification schemes (Colon Classification, Universal Decimal Classification, Cutter’s Expansive Classification, Library of Congress Classification, and Bliss). Very early in the book the author reveals a bias towards the faceted classification systems. He believes that “A good understanding of synthesis and the theory of facet analysis is a…highly useful and powerful apparatus with which to examine and criticize the order, subject analysis, and potential capacity for detail which must underlie any classification system.” This bias is very helpful during the section in which Ranganathan’s Colon Classification is explored. The author’s explanations of Colon Classification go a long way in clarifying much of Ranganathan’s work.The descriptions of the classification systems are followed by the history of classification from 260 B.C. to the decimal class system (before Dewey), as well as the history of classification in the 20th century, from Dewey to MARC. Remaining chapters explain “The Major General Bibliographical Schemes”, including history, basic structure, notation as well as rules and weaknesses. There is also a very interesting chapter on the theory of classification, which addresses the difficulties of creating classification systems (such as Farradane’s symbols based Isolates and Operators “system of relational analysis”). The book also address the “merits and defects” of the classified and alphabetical catalogs, as well special classifications for special libraries. The book is a great evaluation of the major systems and the common characteristics of successful catalogs. Although some aspects are out of date (the chapter on “Classification and the Computer”, for instance, describes the fear that computers may be “disadvantageous to the library and information service”, a speculation that has proven to be untrue), much of the theory and history remains relevant today. Even some of the questions proposed by the author have yet to be answered (for example, will computing power replace the need for “classificatory refinements in indexing”?). Overall, this is a great book for those beginning to learn the theory and application of classification systems. It is thorough, accessible, and good at explaining new ideas and expanding on old. ( )
1 vote sarahdeanjean | Aug 18, 2009 |
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