Last week I was finally back in work for the entire week without dying, so I can conclude that I am winning at life. I spent the mornings learning about classification with our classification librarian, which was a nice change from the previous few weeks as I actually got to spend some time at my own desk!
The last year must have been quite a big one for Lauraine, as the library has undergone a reclassification of the entire main collection – from UDC (which looks super confusing) to Dewey. Her workload has also been affected by books now arriving shelf-ready, so many of them are already classified, but I think there’s still quite a bit of work still needed on the main collection, as there appears to be several different versions of DDC floating around still.
So, I was introduced to giving books classmarks, which can sometimes be fairly straightforward and sometimes be quite confusing. Fortunately, in many cases there will be a clue somewhere – whether it’s a note on the bib record already or that we already have similar items at a particular classmark. In these instances, it’s really just a case of checking that what’s on the screen in front of you does actually apply to the book, and that you can’t add to it anymore to make it more specific.
Classification was something that I hadn’t really put much thought into before, and whilst I knew that the numbers before the decimal point all meant something, it hadn’t really occurred to me that the numbers after the decimal point also all had purposes (as far as I knew, it could have just been a librarian banging their head on the keyboard). But it turns out that all these numbers, and combinations of numbers, can mean places, or periods of time, or genre, or LOTS OF DIFFERENT AND VERY SPECIFIC THINGS. My mind was blown.
So I was able to practice classifying some books with some examples that Lauraine had found for me. As I said, some of them were pretty straightforward, but others took quite a lot of thought as there were several different places that they could go – the fact that there was no definitive right or wrong classmark for each item opened up a bit of debate when neither of us were entirely sure which place was best for a book, but we got there eventually. I took some away to do by myself, and I was able to do some of them quite quickly, whilst others took a considerable amount of time and effort flicking through various different options across the 4 volumes of DDC23, as well as checking what other libraries had decided upon. I enjoyed this quite a lot because I felt a little like a detective and I actually got to think properly – good exercise for the mind!
Once I’d got through all of the books Lauraine had been able to find for me to classify, I was able to help with the reclassifying of our hundreds of BARS (British Archaeological Reports) – they had previously all been at the same classmark, but it has been decided to give them each a separate place, because they cover such a wide variety of topics. Again, a lot of these have suggestions on the bib record of what their new classmark could be, but they are in older versions of DDC so some of them have minor changes, and some don’t have any suggestions at all. There was one, on coinage, that I was particularly proud of, as I had come up with the entire thing by myself and got it right!