Dewey Decimal Classification: Edition 21 and International Perspectives; Papers from a Workshop Presented at the General Conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Beijing, China, August 29, 1996. Edited by Lois Mai Chan and Joan S. Mitchell. Albany, N.Y.: Forest Press, 1997. vii, 98 p. ISBN 0–910608–56–3. $20.
During the spring of 1996, OCLC hosted a workshop for library educators to preview the twenty–first edition of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). This workshop was followed by ten officially sponsored workshops to introduce the new schedule to practicing librarians, as well as by numerous unofficial workshops. The present volume is essentially a print version of one of these officially sponsored workshops, the one held in conjunction with IFLA’s 1996 annual meeting, together with a few additional papers.
The book opens with a general introduction to the underlying philosophy of the new edition. This is followed by a broad overview of Edition 21 and a detailed treatment of the two areas of major revision, public administration and the life sciences. Next, there is an introduction to Dewey for Windows, DDC’s Microsoft Windows–based version of DDC. Finally, there are five articles highlighting the international uses of DDC, including the arrangement of national bibliographies, country–specific uses, and the challenges of translating the scheme into other languages.
All of the papers are clearly written and easy to grasp. The reader need not be an expert in classification theory or a regular user of the schedules to follow the text. For those who do not regularly use DDC, the text might serve as a good refresher to the scheme. The articles themselves range in content from the scholarly to the simply informative.
The introductory articles are somewhat brief, providing only the most essential guide to the underlying philosophy of the new edition and the reasons behind the complete revisions it contains. This is to be expected, now that the schedules have been in use for over a year, and most practicing librarians will already be familiar with these changes. Furthermore, all important revisions have been amply discussed elsewhere. The article on Dewey for Windows serves as a good introduction to the product for those unfamiliar with it. As might be expected, it is difficult to follow a written description of a product which is essentially visual in nature. However, in the absence of a live demonstration, the reader will at least have a general notion of how the product works, of how it differs from the print version, and of its general appearance.
The more scholarly articles treat DDC in an international context. They will be invaluable to researchers studying the application of classification schemes in various countries, the problems of translating the text of classification schemes from one language to another, and the schematic arrangement of national bibliographies. Unfortunately, as of 30 April 1998, none of these articles had been indexed for Library Literature.
This book will appeal primarily to librarians who seek a slightly more detailed introduction to the revisions of Edition 21 than is provided in the schedules themselves. It might, for the very same reasons, be useful to library science students and instructors. Finally, it will benefit classification researchers looking for information on the uses of DDC in countries other than the United States.
About the author
R. Conrad Winke is a Monographic Cataloger, Northwestern University Library, Evanston, Illinois. He is also an Adjunct Instructor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Dominican University.