IDEALS Home University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign logo The Alma Mater The Main Quad

The Administrator Looks at Classification

Show full item record

Bookmark or cite this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/1473

Files in this item

File Description Format
PDF Downs17.pdf (474KB) PDF
Title: The Administrator Looks at Classification
Author(s): Downs, Robert B.
Subject(s): Classification --Books
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.
Issue Date: 1959
Publisher: Graduate School of Library Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Citation Info: In F.T.Eaton and D.E.Strout (eds). 1959. The role of classification in the modern American library : papers presented at an institute conducted by the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library Science, November 1-4, 1959. Urbana, Il: Graduate School of Library Science: 1-7.
Series/Report: Allerton Park Institute (6th : 1959)
Genre: Conference Paper / Presentation
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/1473
ISSN: 0536-4604
Publication Status: published or submitted for publication
Rights Information: Copyright owned by Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1959.
Date Available in IDEALS: 2007-07-16
 

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record

Item Statistics

  • Total Downloads: 88
  • Downloads this Month: 0
  • Downloads Today: 0

Browse

My Account

Information

Access Key