Small Group Reflection – Classifying the Soap

Developing our own classification schemes was a fun exercise. Apart from being fun, however, it was a great experience to really get into the nuts and bolts of how different schemes are built. It seems like the differences between the results of each group really underscores the fact that classification systems, whether enumerative or faceted, are arbitrary. Another thing that I noticed was how much better the system was because more than one person worked on it. If I had been the only one developing our schemes, I would have missed things. Working together, each of us was able to voice concerns that led to refining our classification systems.

Doing this exercise with my group and thinking about what we’ve learned with regard to enumerative and faceted schemes, I’m beginning to get a more solid idea of how information is structured in libraries and in general. Although it’s pretty obvious that the classification systems we, as librarians, use have deficiencies, now it’s much easier to understand why those deficiencies exist. Now it is up to us, as professionals, to decide if there is something that addresses those deficiencies more thoroughly or if we just have to work with what we’ve got. It seems like it should be a no-brainer that a better classification system is needed. At the same time, developing such a classification system will be no small undertaking based only the work involved. That’s completely disregarding the diplomacy that would have to occur. Change is hard. Even if we were able to develop the best classification system, that’s no guarantee that it would be welcomed with the open arms of librarians everywhere. Even so, we need to be advocates, disciples, and educators about classification, so that others will even be able to see the value in finding improved schemes, whether enumerative or faceted (or both).

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One thought on “Small Group Reflection – Classifying the Soap

  1. Josh says:

    Glad this was helpful. Actually doing in a group can be helpful, as you point out, but it can also get more complex because of varying interpretations. Key is finding the balance.

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