ClassificationEnglishGeneralLibrary Science

Types of Library Classification Schemes

On one extreme, a Library classification scheme can be completely enumerative where every subject and class ID listed with a pre-defined notation and the classifier has simply to choose a class and the corresponding notation. On the other hand, a classification scheme can be fully faceted, where the classifier has to follow a set of rules to construct a class number. In between these two extremes there is also a classification scheme that to some extent is enumerative but also makes provision for some sort of synthesis to build the class number. These are called analytico-synthetic classification schemes.

Enumerative Classification Schemes:DDC

An enumerative Library classification scheme is a scheme where all the possible classes are enumerated according to certain characteristics. There is a top down approach whereby a series of subordinate classes are produced and where both simple and complex subjects are listed. The advantage of this scheme is that the structure of the scheme is shown by the notation as far as practicable. Users can easily find the coordinate and subordinate classes and can make a map of the subject. The disadvantage is that it is difficult to accommodate new subjects and frequent revisions may be required. An enumerative classification scheme, in some cases, displays hierarchical structures of notation. The basic tenet of this scheme is that all the possible subjects and topics are listed along with a predefined class number, and therefore the classifier does not have to create any class number such as Dewey Decimal Classification.

Analytico-Synthetic Classification Scheme

Analytico-Synthetic Library classification schemes resolve some of the problems of enumerative classification schemes. The concept behind this scheme is that the subject of a given document will be divided into its UDCconstituent elements and then the classification scheme will be used to find notations for each element, which will then be combined according to the prescribed rules to prepare the final class number. This scheme overcomes the two major problems of enumerative classification schemes as, by providing various tables, specific notational symbols and rules, they avoid the necessity for a long list of classes, and thus produce a smaller classification scheme in size; they also provide flexibility to users as specific numbers can be built and the classifier is not restricted by the availability of a specific subject. Nevertheless, it makes classifiers job complex since they have to construct the class numbers as opposed to just selecting one from a list like Universal Decimal Classification.

Faceted Classification SchemeColon Classification

A faceted classification scheme is on the other extreme of the scale since instead of listing of all the classes and the corresponding numbers, it lists the various facets of every subject or main class and provides a set of rules for constructing class numbers through facet analysis. The concept of facet analysis was proposed by Dr. S. R. Ranganathan and was used in his faceted classification scheme called Colon Classification. The basic idea was that any component or facet of a subject can fit into five fundamental categories: Personality, Matter, Energy, Space and Time which became the major focus of classification research from 1930 onwards resulting in to the Colon Classification.

References: (This document is collected from materials available from online/web and organize here for LIS students)

  1. KRISHAN KUMAR. Theory of classification. 1993. Vikas Publishing; New Delhi. p1.
  2. SHARMA (C D). Use of libraries: A guide to better use of libraries and their resources. 1978. Metropolitan Book; New Delhi. p-120.
  3. SHARMA (C D). Op. cit., p 121.
  4. KRISHAN KUMAR. Op. cit., p 4.
  5. INDIRA GANDHI NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY (IGNOU). Unit 2: Needand purpose of library classification. IGNOU; New Delhi. p 26.
  6. DUTTA (Dwijendranath). Library classification: Theory and practice. 1962. The Western Book Depot; Nagpur. p 48.
  7. RAJU (Addepali Appala Narasimha). Dewey decimal classification (DDC 20): Theory and practice: A practical and self instructional manual. 1995. T.R. Publications; Madras. p 4.
  8. CHOWDHURY (G G). Introduction to modern information retrieval. Ed. 3. 2004. Facet Publishing; London. p 89.

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Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.


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