Principles of Library Classification

Rechardson says:
  • a) The books are collected for use.
  • b) Books are administered for use.
  • c) Books are arranges for use.

From this point of view, principles of Library Classification are as:

1. Subject Approach:
If classification helps in use of books, a method of systematic arrangement is adopted, though it is logical or not. The subject arrangement of the documents is found suitable for both readers and librarians, but it is also necessary to arrange the books on the basis of thought contents.
Library classification is classification of knowledge (thought contents). Hence, schemes of classification emerged to classify books according to their thought contents.
2. Porphyry’s Tree:
Knowledge is totality, and classification starts from knowledge. It is like a porphyry tree (Greek logic) in which a species is derived from genus of the discovery of difference, so the genus is shown to divide into two species, one of which possesses the difference and the other does not. Only two classes would appear at each stage. This division is known as dichotomous division since only two classes are distinguished. D.D.C. and L.C. rejected it as they started with large subject and divided them up.
The value of Porphyry’s tree is that:
  •  i) Classification leads the coordinate classes based on the principle of division.
  • ii) There is a presentation of subject on the basis of thought contents, i.e. quality.
3. Extension and Intention:
It is logical that in a general classification designed to cover all departments of knowledge, a collection of books will be broken up into organized subjects group using one characteristic at a time.
The Characteristic used in division enable to assemble things according to their degree of likeness to make a specific class.
Classification proceeds from terms of great extension (denotation) and small intention (connotation).
Each class is a species of one immediately above it in hierarchical chain and a genus in relation to the above. This principle is followed at each stage while dividing a class.
4. Inductive and Deductive Nature of Classification:
The main problem in classification is to classify the subjects. All subjects share or involve attributes that make them number of class.
Example: Mathematics-Arithmetic-Algebra-Geometry-Trigonometry.
It shows that classification is an inductive one, which builds broader classes from narrower classes, working from the particular to the general. But in practice, library classifications are usually constructed of the opposite process of division working deductive from the general to specific. In other words, classification of subject is known as classification of documents.
5. Aristotelian Pattern:
Aristotle has given an account of logical classification. This is based on logic.
Most of the classification schemes have a structure of logical classification of Aristotelian pastern, i.e. division of classes- general to specific. Sub-species by the addition of one different characteristics after another.
Aristotelian pattern: Division was dichotomous at each step, i.e. each genus was divided into two groups- A and Not A. One processing the characteristics and the other not.
A subject of a book should determine its order if it is to be helpful. It enables the reader to consult all books at one place relating to one subject or other related subjects together. In short, like books should be brought together so that they may be used in relation to one another. This means subjects should be arranged according to their degree of relation.
6. Hierarchical Structure of Classification:
Hierarchical concept is based on the assumption that the process of sub-division must exhibit as much as possible the natural hierarchy of the subject, proceeding from greater extension and small intention to those of smaller extension and greater intention.
Bliss says: General work first followed by work on general subjects treated especially, than by works on special subject treated generally, and lastly by works on special subjects treated specially.

  • a) The general treated generally –  Locomotive.
  • b) The general treated specially – Loco-design.
  • c) The special treated generally – Electric Locomotive.
  • d) The special treated specially – Electric Loco-design.


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