|Abstract:||Of all the modes of human intellectual activity prognostication is
probably the most treacherous. It may not influence people, but certainly
it will alienate one's friends. No one paid much heed to the
warnings of the unfortunate Cassandra, and there is no record that
either the Oracle of Delphi or the Cumaean Sibyl -had any bosom companions.
But every well-ordered conference needs a sacrificial goat,
and for that role I probably possess a natural affinity, even though my
sex may differ from that of the Sibyls.
Because the crystal ball is always, at least potentially, cloudy the
temptation is ever present to seek refuge in definition, ambiguity, or
riddles. It was no accident that the Sibylline leaves were scattered.
Thus one might be quite within his rights to ask rhetorically what is
meant by librarianship? by classification? and by the future?
Doubtless, I too will end by "hedging my bets'* in this way, but for the
moment, at least, I shall throw discretion, rather than prophetic
words, to the winds and declare bluntly and without equivocation that
I think library classification is here to stay.
Not long ago I remarked to a friend who has long been a leader
among special librarians, that on recent visits to England and Brazil
I had been repeatedly asked why librarians in the United States were
so belligerently opposed to classification. My friend's reply was immediate,
explosive, and, I am afraid, very typical of most of us
"That's easy, because it's no good!" The substance of this essay,
then is as much a protest against such a misunderstanding of the
role of classification in librarianship, as it is a forecast of the future
Like the Apostles' Creed, it may be regarded as, "The essence of
things hoped for the substance of things unseen."
THE NATURE OF CLASSIFICATION