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Challenges in classifying Humanities and Social science materials of the Library University of Jaffna
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Challenges in classifying Humanities and Social science materials of the Library University of Jaffna

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The phenomenal aspects of universe of subjects and their increasing complexity has created tremendous challenges for researchers as well as the library staff dealing with organization of materials.......

The phenomenal aspects of universe of subjects and their increasing complexity has created tremendous challenges for researchers as well as the library staff dealing with organization of materials. Dewey decimal classification of Melvil Dewey shortly named as DDC is very popular among libraries for its wide usage worldwide. Commonly University libraries in Sri Lanka adopt DDC for organizing their materials. University libraries in which faceted scheme is more suitable than enumerative one for locating interdisciplinary subject in its proper place, face much problem in organizing materials using this scheme.

Having been situated in a war torn area, the Library of the University of Jaffna is isolated with limited opportunities for national and international links and collaborations with higher educational institutions due to political, economic and social crisis and unrest in the past 25 years. Library has a major collection of materials for the readers of the Faculty of Arts the largest Faculty of the University of Jaffna includes 17 academic departments and provides study programmes in 24 disciplines on social sciences, humanities and aesthetic studies

The objective of this research study is to identify the specific challenges faced in organizing Humanities and Social science materials in the library of the University of Jaffna using 22nd edition of Dewey decimal classification. Based on the descriptive analysis of the problems encountered in the last three years during the organization of humanities and social science materials at the library of University of Jaffna, this research paper provide a basic understanding to a classifier who is interested in depth classification in organizing complicated materials and formulate guiding principles for classifiers when dealing with interdisciplinary subjects.

Identifying the subject of a document, Finding the class number of new subjects and incorporating them in their proper location, inconsistency in number building and the lengthy notations are identified as the major challenges in this study in organizing Humanities and Social science materials using 22nd edition of DDC. Applying Facet analytical approach for the document dealing with more than one subjects or discipline introduced in the colon scheme DDC may be of useful to the classifier to solve the problems in classifying complicated materials without violating the basic structure of DDC. It was also suggested to maintain a subject authority file which would indeed help to identify the relevant subject.


keywords - Organization of Knowledge, Dewey decimal classification-practical aspects

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  • 1. Challenges in classifying Humanities andSocial science materials of the Library,University of JaffnaBYArulanantham, SandNavaneethakrishnan, S
  • 2.  The Library, University of Jaffna founded in 1974 22ndedition of DDC is used by this library It has a major collection of Humanities and Social sciencematerials Humanities and Social science materials are simplyidentified from DDC main classes 000 General , 100 Philosophy,200 Religion, 300 Social sciences, 400 Language, 700 Arts, 800Literature, and 900 History. Four academic staff are engaged in classification of thesematerials Faculty of Arts provides study programmes in 24 disciplines onsocial sciences, humanities and aesthetic studies. Readers from t he Faculty of Arts are using the library fortheir information need.
  • 3.  The objective of this research study is• To identify the specific challenges faced in organizingHumanities and Social science materials• To contribute for the effective service to the readers• To provide a basic understanding and formulateguiding principles for classifiers
  • 4.  Descriptive method was used in this study forthe analysis of the challenges Data collection was done during classificationprocess Categorized according to their nature ofchallenge Theoretically analyzed and Major challengeswere identified
  • 5.  The following were identified as majorchallenges through this studyIdentifying the subject of a documentClassifying interdisciplinary subjectsFinding the class number of new subjectsSubject scatteringInconsistency in number buildingLengthy notations
  • 6.  Identifying the subject of the document Classifying documents with several subjects within onediscipline is identified as constraint and consume much time ofthe classifier to construct number after the depth study of thatdocument. To avoid the constraints in identifying the subject of thedocument we can apply Facet analytical approach for thedocument dealing with more than one subject
  • 7.  Classifying interdisciplinary subjects Classifying interdisciplinary subjects has been identified astroublesome work for young classifiers with knowledge ofclassification and less experience in classifying since the depthstudy of the document is needed for this purpose. We can face this challenge by upgrading the knowledge ofidentifying the subject of a document through its mode offormation and encouraging classifiers to develop with a subjectbackground at least on faculty basis.
  • 8.  Classifying New subjects As library classification scheme take their own time to providea suitable place for the new subjects, much time is wastedbefore the classifier regarding the place for a new subject. Ex:Knowledge management. To avoid the constraints in finding the class number of newsubjects and incorporating them in their proper location we canuse subject headings or other classification schemes 
  • 9.  Subject scattering Subject scattering is identified as one of the major challengeand it occurs in main class and their subordinate classes as well. Classifiers could rectify this problem by making a decision tolocate all the historical, cultural and political aspects of ethnicgroups in one place either based on the curriculum or theinformation seeking behaviour of the readers to avoid subjectscattering.
  • 10.  Inconsistency in number building Inconsistency is specifically identified in two areas; one is toadd zero with the basic number when connecting fromstandard subdivision (SS) from T1. Another one is identifiedduring the addition of the area table  To avoid inconsistency in number building we can maintainsubject authority files to make decision for adding additionalnumbers from tables will help the classifier to find a properlocation for the material
  • 11.  Length of notation Since DDC fails to allocate notation to dynamic subjects, it isinevitable to have longer class numbers. Ex: Cases involvingcontrol of AIDS in Sri Lanka: 344.5493 043697920264 To avoid lengthy notation we can maintain subject authorityfiles to make decision for adding additional numbers fromtables will help the classifier to find a proper location for thematerial
  • 12.  Sample Topics• Using CC principles to identify compound & complex subjects• Using UDC principles to classify interdisciplinary subjects• Using self defined classification scheme for Religion• Using subject headings to avoid subject scattering• Etc.????????????????• ????????????• ???????• ?????Thank you very much“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where wecan find information upon it.”-Samuel Johnson(1709-84)