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The Subject Classification of James Duff Brown (1862-1914) Clare Beghtol University of Toronto ASIST SIG/CR ASIST SIG/CR Providence, R.I., 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "The Subject Classification of James Duff Brown (1862-1914) Clare Beghtol University of Toronto ASIST SIG/CR ASIST SIG/CR Providence, R.I., 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Subject Classification of James Duff Brown ( ) Clare Beghtol University of Toronto ASIST SIG/CR ASIST SIG/CR Providence, R.I., 2004

2 Outline Introduction and background Browns ideas On classification On the relationships of topics Subject Classification Provisions for multi-topic works Twentieth century issues Interdisciplinarity BBC2 Phenomenon class Some conclusions

3 Browns life and career Born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1862) Self-taught in many areas Wrote on librarianship, music, and literature Manual of Library Classification and Shelf Arrangement (1898) thought to be the first book on classification read by W.C.B. Sayers Started the influential journal Library World: A Medium of Intercommunication for Librarians (1898) Strong believer in open stacks in public libraries Designed floor plan for Clerkenwell public library so library users could browse the stacks

4 Plan of first floor, Clerkenwell (Baker, 1990, p. 15)

5 Browns classification systems Quinn-Brown Classification, 1894 Adjustable Classification, 1898 Subject Classification 3 editions: 1906, 1914, 1939 (revised by nephew after Browns death) Well-received in both the U.K. and the U.S. Brown considered it to be a home-grown scheme more suitable for England than Dewey Designed for shelf browsing in an open stack public library

6 Brown on classification No library classification can be permanent or useful for everyone: There are dozens of rational systems to choose from, each capable of infinite adjustment to suit the views, or knowledge, or the want of it, possessed by the librarian. The system of Francis Bacon, dating from 1623, can be made just as elastic and comprehensive as the more elaborate and modern systems of Edwards, the British Museum, Dewey, Cutter, Perkins, Fletcher, or Sonnenschein. There is not the slightest difficulty in working out a complete scheme from any basis, nor does it matter much into what main divisions specific subjects are put, provided always they are kept together on the shelves (1897: 149)

7 Brown on relationships of topics The departments of human knowledge are so numerous, their intersections so great, their changes so frequent, and their variety so confusing, that is impossible to show that they proceed from one source or germ, or that they can be arranged so that each enquirer will find the complete literature of his subject at one fixed place. Subjects overlap and qualify each other in every conceivable manner, and they are further complicated by considerations of literary form and the points of view from which they may be studied. Every subject is capable of being treated from a large number of standpoints, and each of these may be the center of an enormous literature, and form an important study (1914: 8)

8 Subject Classification - 1 Established in the general order of Matter and Force (Generalia and Physical Sciences) Life (Biology, Ethnology, Medicine, Economic Biology, Domestic Arts) Mind (Philosophy, Religion, Political and Social Science) Record (Language, Literature, Literary forms, History, Geography, Biography) Brown considered this a logical order, or at any rate, according to a progression for which reasons, weak or strong, can be advanced (1914: 11)

9 Subject Classification – 2 Outline

10 Subject Classification - 3 Brown advocated … One-place classification Concrete subjects should have only one place, qualified by standpoints Rose could be qualified by its standpoints, i.e., Biological, Botanical, Horticultural, Historical, Geographical, Ethical, Decorative, Legal, Emblematical, Bibliographical, Poetical, Musical, Sociological, and so on to any extent (1914: 8). This idea carried out in the classification by three kinds of notational synthesis, i.e. …

11 Subject Classification - 4 Intra-class synthesis Synthesis from two sections of the same main class achieved by + and omission of the main class letter Cats and dogs = F952 + F918 = F No preferred citation order Inter-class synthesis Synthesis from two main classes by + and retention of the main class letter Logic and rhetoric = A300 + M170 Gambling in dog racing = L933 + F944 Called composite subjects or composite books No preferred citation order

12 Subject Classification - 5 The Categorical Table a table of forms, phases, standpoints, qualifications, etc., which apply more or less to every subject or subdivision of a subject (1914: 15). The Categorical Table has two parts Notational order (e.g.,.25 Diaries) Alphabetical order (e.g., Art.116) Numerical notation preceded by a dot, which is not a decimal (.) No synthesis within the Categorical Table

13 Subject Classification - 6 Categorical Table numbers added to any notation from the schedules, e.g. … Economics of universities = A Universities = A180 [schedules] Economics =.760 [Categorical Table] Economics of musical competitions = C Musical competitions = C798 [schedules] Economics =.760 [Categorical Table] These synthetic notations provided more flexibility than any classification of its time (except UDC, which had the same auxiliary tables for synthesis it has now) (e.g., Manuel, 1907.)

14 Brown and the 20 th century - 1 Two 20 th century issues addressed here in relation to Brown Interdisciplinarity Analytico-synthetic methods and one-place system Interdisciplinarity Not addressed in DDC until Ed. 17, 1965 Subject Classification provides three ways of combining topics in Brown identifiedand solvedsome of the problems before anyone else (except the creators of UDC)

15 Brown and the 20 th century - 2 Top-down universe of knowledge classifications of the 19 th century gave way to bottom-up universe of concepts systems of the 20 th century (Wilson, 1972) Ranganathans analytico-synthetic method generated discussion of facet analysis and notational synthesis The CRG adopted these ideas and Mills incorporated them into the revision of the Bliss Bibliographic Classification (BBC2)

16 Brown and the 20 th century - 3 Bliss Bibliographic Classification, 2 nd ed., (BBC2) (Mills and Broughton, ) Incorporates theoretical advances like facet analysis, retroactive notation, intra- and inter-class synthesis Introduced the idea of the Phenomenon class to a general bibliographic classification Phenomenon class The Phenomenon class is essentially the same as Browns one-place system Allows option of placing all documents related to one phenomenon in one place

17 Brown and the 20 th century - 4 The Phenomenon class means a phenomenon need not be scattered by discipline because a literature can be based on... a given concept (entity, attribute, process) which treats it from the viewpoint of several or all disciplines. An example would be a work on the Horse, treating it from the zoological, equestrian, agricultural, military, artistic, etc. viewpoint or, a work on Colour, treating it from the viewpoints of optics, biology, photography, painting, decoration, etc. (1977, v.1:52) Browns work on one-place classification and on concrete subjects influenced these options in BBC2

18 Some conclusions Brown has not attained the kind of reputation that Charles Cutter enjoys Nevertheless, Brown deserves study for his pioneering work on Interdisciplinarity Synthesized notations Phenomenon-based classification Further study of Brown may lead to comprehensive understanding of present classificatory issues and problems that 21 st century classification research needs to solve

19 References Baker, W Libraries and librarians in the 1890s: a survey of the library scene 100 Years Ago. Library Review 39(2): Brown, J.D Classification and cataloguing. The Library. 9: Brown, J.D Manual of library classification and shelf arrangement. London: Library Supply. Brown, J.D Subject classification, with tables, indexes, etc. for the sub-division of subjects. London: Library Supply. Brown, J.D Subject classification, with tables, indexes, etc., for the sub-division of subjects. 2 nd rev. ed. London: Grafton. Brown, J.D Subject classification for the arrangement of libraries and the organization of information, with tables, indexes, etc., for the subdivision of subjects. 3 rd rev. ed. J.D. Stewart, ed. London: Grafton. Manuel du répertoire bibliographique universel: organisationétat des travauxrégles classification [decimale] Publication no. 63. Bruxelles: Institute International de Bibliographie. Mills, J. and Broughton, V Bliss bibliographic classification. 2 nd ed. London: Butterworths. Wilson, T.D The work of the British Classification Research Group. In H. Wellisch and T.D. Wilson, eds. Subject Retrieval in the seventies: new directions, pp Wesport, CT: Greenwood.

20 Thank you

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