03DeweyDL15-16 - Cataloguing and Classification The Dewey...

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Cataloguing and Classification The Dewey Decimal Classification © Robert Gordon University 2016 1 The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) Topic Preview The aim of this topic is to provide the basis for an understanding of the purpose and functions of the DDC as a general classification scheme. This Topic should be studied in conjunction with the official introduction to the DDC at http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/oclc/dewey/versions/pri nt/intro.pdf The prevalence of the DDC We start our exploration of hierarchical/enumerative schemes with the Dewey Decimal Classification because it is without doubt the best known and most widely spread bibliographic classification scheme in the world. The DDC is the scheme that you are most likely to encounter at your local public or academic library. As far back as 1945, Sayers in his Manual of Classification for Librarians wrote: A classification scheme which is used in all five continents, has been translated into several European languages and into Chinese and has reached its 20th English language edition must take priority in our discussion of modern library systems . We can share his sentiments here, though noting that the scheme is now in its 23 rd edition and is even more widespread in use. Brief history of the DDC Melvil Dewey developed his ‘Decimal Classification’ while a student and librarian at Amherst College in Massachusetts between 1872 and 1876. The first edition was entitl ed “ A classification and subject index for cataloguing and arranging the books and pamphlets of a library . It consisted of a twelve page preface, twelve pages of tables, and an eighteen page index. The scheme was immediately challenged as being too detailed! The scheme was produced at an opportune moment. Libraries were just beginning to adopt open-access policies and the need for a self-evident order for shelf classification was becoming apparent.
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Cataloguing and Classification The Dewey Decimal Classification © Robert Gordon University 2016 2 Since then the scheme has grown at a steady pace 1 under the close supervision of its creator until his death in 1931. It is now published by the Online Computer Center, Inc. In 1996, Edition 21 was published both in print and electronic form simultaneously. Today, the 23rd edition comprises four hefty volumes, consisting of: Fixed location versus relative location Dewey introduced his scheme when the practice of ‘fixed location’ was the norm in library management. Books were numbered according to their location in the library. A certain number of shelves and a block of accession numbers were allocated to each subject in a library. These shelf marks were assigned to individual books. Once assigned, the shelf mark denoted the permanent home of a book in that library. Dewey’s innovation was to arrange books "by subject rather than by windows, doors, shelves and similar non-intellectual distinctions". What Dewey did was introduce the idea of applying notation to books and not to shelves. This was one of the main ways in which the DCC was a pioneering scheme.
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