National Library of Medicine Classification (NLMC)
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National Library of Medicine Classification (NLMC)

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  • NLM applies subject classification to materials treated as monographsSerials are separated by form & assigned classification numbers within several broad categories

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  • 1. A workshop on the NLM Classification scheme: for the International Society of Knowledge Organization Student Group, SLAIS Dean Giustini, Adjunct faculty, | February 27th, 2014
  • 2. Reading an NLM call number WE 100 .Z18 2014 (broad class, go to Ws, then A, B, C, D….) (read as a whole number from 1 to 999) (read alphabetically, then as a decimal) (year published, file in chronological order)
  • 3. An NLM call number • Each NLMC call number has several components: WE 100 Z18 2014 Two letters indicate broad subject Subcategory What is WE?? Z18? Year physical item was published Why is this useful?
  • 4. Background on the NLMC • A classification system for physical materials in medicine • There are two main “schedules” • QS-QZ & W-WZ (left empty in LOC) • • Topics organized by human physiology, body systems & medical disciplines Within each “schedule”, division by organ has priority • LC & NLM are used for subjects bordering on medicine • However, LC schedules for Human Anatomy (QM), Microbiology (QR) and Medicine (R) are not used by NLMC • schedules start with “form numbers“ | publication types ranging from 1-39 (helpful for browsing shelves)
  • 5. Origins of a medical library Quick history: • 1836: Library of the Surgeon General's Office • 1889-1890: Index to the medical literature began • 1922: Army Medical Library • 1944: Need for a new specialized medical classification system recognized • 1951: First ed. Army Medical Library Classification • 1956: National Library of Medicine founded • Largest medical collection in the world • Developed & maintains the NLM Classification • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) • MEDLINE, PubMed • UMLS (Unified Medical Language System)
  • 6. Origins of NMLC “The genesis of the NLM classsification was a Survey of the Army Medical Library, published in 1944, which recommended that the “Library be reclassified according to a modern scheme,” and that new scheme be a mixed notation (letters & numbers) resembling that of the Library of Congress.”
  • 7. What is the NLM Classification? • From NLMC fifth edition (1994): "The National Library of Medicine Classification covers the field of medicine and related sciences, utilizing schedules of QZ and W-WZ permanently excluded from LOC.“ • • • • • • Used worldwide to organize “classify” materials in medicine Suitable for large & small libraries Patterned after Library of Congress (LC) scheme uses same principle of letters for broad subjects for browsing subdivided by numbers "cuttered" see Charles Ammi Cutter
  • 8. Strengths of the NLMC • • • • • • • Well-suited to (for) most medical libraries (esp. academic medical) Simple, highly enumerative structure Easy to apply…extensible Clear division between preclinical & clinical topics Serials are separated by form apart from monographs Accommodates LCC for non-medical works Less structured than Dewey’s classification system • Does not express relations among classes • Not very good at accommodating new subjects • Alternative & non-Western medicine • Health administration & public health Important: The NLMC is compatible with MeSH
  • 9. In wide usage worldwide “…The majority of medical libraries use the NLMC because it is “the most detailed and appropriate for a medical collection and provides the best coverage for the subject.” (Womack, 2006) …though some academic medical libraries use the “R” schedule in the LOC
  • 10. Benefits of using NLMC • • • • Allows for easy browsing of print collection Easy to obtain records for cataloguing purposes Updated annually Most medical school libraries use it • • Schedules start with “form numbers“ (represent publication types) numbers range from 1-39 Used as mnemonic devices for browsing by users • NLMC & Medline used together, articles to monographs • MeSH uses vocabulary medical professionals use • LCSH is better for popular/consumer terms