I recently received a bursary from CILIP’s Cataloguing & Indexing Group to complete a four week Dewey decimal classification course run by Library Juice. I saw this opportunity advertised on the CIG blog (via Twitter). As well as being used at most academic libraries in the United Kingdom, the Dewey decimal classification system is common in public libraries too. While my cataloguing role at The University of Manchester Library (UML) involves copy cataloguing shelf-ready items to DD23, I am not involved with the classification of the new material passing through the department. The online course aimed not only to expose novices to the steps necessary to assign classification and build Dewey numbers using Web Dewey, but to give them a solid foundation in the creation and interpretation of Dewey decimal classification numbers as well. For those (like me) who are more used to copy cataloguing Dewey numbers, this was an opportunity to understand the methods used to build the classification numbers from scratch.
This course consisted of lessons and practical exercises to give participants experience with classifying various types of resources. There were also group discussions which were extremely useful when you had a classification quandary, which given the subjective nature of classification, was pretty regularly! Each week’s content was posted on a Sunday night with a week to read through the subject matter and complete the assignments and exercises. Deadlines were not strict though which meant that the course could work around my job which was perfect.
So what have I gained from taking this course? I hadn’t realised how complicated the Dewey decimal classification system is! Although I already had a basic familiarity with the system thanks to my PG.Dip in Library & Information Management, and from copy cataloguing in my day to day role, elements of classification such as using the Dewey decimal classification tables to add depth to classification numbers took me way out of my comfort zone. However, this course gave me an understanding of how and why material is classified where it is and enabled me to develop in-depth classification numbers using building blocks. Although classification at UML is made more complicated by the fact that we classify material to a range of Dewey decimal, dependant on the subject matter, thanks to CILIP and CIG, hopefully, I’ll be able to put what I’ve learned into action soon.