|Abstract:||A strong case can be made out, I am convinced, for the proposition
that many librarians are obsessed with classification for the sake of
classification. With rare exceptions, investigation has revealed, library
users are totally indifferent to classification, so long as it does
not actually interfere with their finding the books they want. If they
have thought about the matter at all and were given a choice, the
readers would vote for the utmost possible simplicity in whatever
scheme of classification is adopted. Logical sequences, a fetish worshipped
by numerous classifiers, mean little to all except an occasional
professor of philosophy.
Though I would not argue for it, there is a good deal to be said for
the accession order in arranging the books in a library simply numbering
the first book received 1, the second 2, and so on ad infinitum,
filling every shelf to capacity, and saving much space. Such a plan
appears to have worked satisfactorily in the half-million volume library
of the London School of Economics, but that is a closed shelf
collection and perhaps belongs to a special category.
Carrying the thesis further, I would maintain that librarians,
principally in colleges and universities, have been guilty of wasting
millions of dollars in elaborate and unnecessary reclassification programs,
using funds that could have been spent to far greater advantage
to everyone concerned in building up their book resources. To be
specific, consider the cases of two of the most poverty-stricken university
libraries in the country: The University of Mississippi and
the University of South Carolina, both of which have expended tens of
thousands of dollars in recent years, changing over from one standard
system of classification to another. Meanwhile their book budgets
were at about the level of a college library without any university pretensions.
Here is almost incontrovertible support for such critics as
Lawrence C. Powell, when they charge that librarians are more concerned
with housekeeping than with books and reading.