Library Classification Schemes

Classification Schemes:

Classification schemes is defined as “a list of classes arranged according to a set of pre-defined principles for the purpose of organizing items in a collection or entries in an index, bibliography or catalogue into groups based on their similarities and differences to facilitate access and retrieval.”

Library classification schemes are tools that allow us to allocate a class mark – an artificial notation comprising alphanumeric characters and punctuation marks to every item based on its subject content so that the library staff can preserve all the related items together on the library’s shelves.They are the logical arrangements of subjects plus a system of symbols representing those subjects.Classification schemes aid a classifier to 148represent the subject content of every document by appropriate notations. A library classification scheme has a number of objectives:

  • To provide a shelf address–to assign a specific location for every document on the library’s shelves.
  • To collate items–placing documents on the same or similar subjects together on the library’s shelves to facilitate users to find items on the same subject in one place within the library.
  • To link items–to enable users looking for items through a library catalogue can use call numbers as references to locate items on the shelves; classification is used as a link between the catalogue record of an item and the item itself on the shelf.
  • To enable browsing facilities–using the structure of a bibliographic classification to browse a collection on the library’s shelves or in an electronic or in an electronic collection.

It is a systematic arrangement of ideas, books or documents. It is vital if one is to obtain the best use of one’s collection. Classification is an act of classifying or arranging in classes according to common characteristics or affinities. Books are written expression of man’s ideas and these ideas are complicated. Several subjects may be discussed in one book,  or one subject may be discussed in one book. One subject may be discussed from several aspects. However, both factors may appear together. Classification schemes which attempt to list all parts of knowledge so that a librarian may pigeon-hole his book neatly are called enumerative. Sub-classes are formed from a more general class deductively. To divide a class of books into smaller groups a characteristic is chosen which should be used consistently at any one step in the division. A characteristic is a quality which is common to all divisions but appears with a difference to each, e.g. history may be divided by time and within each division the time will be different.DDC

In other terms, each subject may be divided into a series of more specific subjects in chain. It is also necessary in libraries to arrange the similar subjects such so that it may be considered side by side in array, e.g. physics, chemistry and mathematics belong to the same class science; arithmetic, algebra and geometry are co-equal divisions of the class mathematics.

Classification schemes must allow new subjects to be inserted at the suitable point without dislocation of the rest of the scheme. The most famous schemes are:

Book classification schemes require certain parts and features to make them workable, viz: (a) schedules, (b) notation, (c) index, (d) class or classes for general works, (e) class or classes for books in which the presentation is more important than the subject matter, (f) facilities for making special collection of books, and (g) auxiliary schedules and tables, used within the notation for indicating aspects that occur constantly in several different subject.

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Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.


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