Class Reflection – Enumerative vs. Faceted Classification

I’ll be honest. I’m actually glad that these two classes got combined into one. I’m afraid that I would not have understood their relationship as well if we had discussed them separately. It was interesting to hear people try to decide which type of classification was better or easier or more intuitive. From my perspective, it seems like both enumerative and faceted classifications have usefulness, some demonstrated ease of use, and spring from some type of natural human behavior. In fact, I wonder if the action of classification, while it has become an obvious part of library and information science, wasn’t first just the natural response of humans trying to make some useful sense out of a chaotic world. While enumerative classification has been used really effectively in traditional libraries, faceted classification seems to be much more effective in terms of database construction and information retrieval. Unfortunately, faceted classification hasn’t really been greeted with open arms. There seems to be a kind of competition between the proponents for the various types of classification and the systems that have been built up from them. In my mind, however, both enumerative and faceted classifications are necessary to keep track of immense body of information that we, as information professionals, are charged with. Maybe there will also come a time when we find a way to effectively merge the two devices into a tool that will work in new and more useful ways. Einstein believed that there was an equation somewhere that explained the universe – a theory of everything. Maybe there’s a classification system that will classify everything. We’ve only found pieces of the puzzle so far, just like Einstein only found pieces of the universal forces puzzle. I’m not really of the mind that either enumerative or faceted classification systems are better than one another. I think there’s room for them both under the same umbrella.


One thought on “Class Reflection – Enumerative vs. Faceted Classification

  1. Josh says:

    Yes. I don’t think it is one or the other. They are both useful depending on the context. Much like any other thing. I usually do repeat a lot of the material from enumerative when we get to faceted for the very reason you expressed.

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