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Old 03-23-2007, 01:46 PM   #7
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Location: Subtropical Queensland, Australia, between the mountains and the Coral Sea
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Originally Posted by Mike View Post
It can be pretty confusing for librarians as well at times. When I first started work as a lecturer our college library had computing texts spread over a variety of Dewey codes (information science, electronics, business studies, engineering, etc etc). Sometimes they would buy multiple copies of a book and file some under one number and others elsewhere.
I think you'll find that computing books are pretty well standardised under the 001s now. My philosophy when classifying library material has alwys been that it is better to be consistent than to be absolutely correct. The classification problems of Dewey are compounded for public libraries by the ridiculousness of Library of Congress subject headings. When I look at some of the books we get through from our outsourcers, and at the bib records downloaded from Libraries Australia, I wonder how anyone will ever find the books on the shelves. This topic comes up in conversation in our workroom with depressing frequency.

What you mention is a problem for libraries when similar topics are at widely-different numbers. Horticulture and landscaping, for example, are widely separated in strict Dewey. At my library service, we are in the process of developing a 'house and garden' collection that will keep the material at the original classification numbers but put whole Dewey sequences next to each other so that there are several bays with linked topics together. We're also looking at a family collection along the same lines, and a few others as well.

Originally Posted by Mike View Post
One of the best misclassification stories I heard first hand happened in Brighton library where a book called Rock Life was filed under geology. A very irate elderly gentleman complained when he borrowed it (presumably without looking inside) only to discover, when he got home, that the pictures of the Rolling Stones weren't exactly geological specimens.
Very few libraries do original cataloguing any more – we all download the bib records from national libraries or OCLC. You will see on the verso of title pages that the original catalogue record is available from the British Library, or Library of Congress, or wherever. The problem we have in Australia, and probably elsewhere, is that in the National Bibliographic Database, there may be several bib records for the same item, and the cataloguer has to decide which is the best for the particular library's purpose. Sometimes the bib record is created before the book is actually published. But your tale sounds somewhat apocryphal to me, unless the Brighton library was doing original cataloguing and the classifier didn't even open the book. That sounds unlikely because there are a lot of options in the 550s when classifying. I classified many, many geological texts in my 30+ years as a technical librarian in the resource industries.

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