Re: proposal for subjects in subject tree

Tony Barry <> Tue, 01 December 1992 04:43 UTC

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Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1992 13:03:36 +1000
To: Reinhard Doelz <>
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From: Tony Barry <>
Subject: Re: proposal for subjects in subject tree
Cc: Ton Verschuren <>,,,,,, BILLY@untvax.bitnet,


First I must apologise as this will be a brief reply. I'm about to leave
for a conference and I will try and give you a more thoughtful reply when I
return next week.

>If you don't know my name, I try to maintain a biology subject tree in 

Yes our Research School of Biological Sciences finds it very useful thanks.

>I wouldn't call VERONICA to be a classified service.

I agree it's a flat index.

> Yet, be careful with 
>the ambition that librarians do it all, and the customers need to follow. 
>The current fact is that the 'real' subject heavy gophers are maintained 
>by scientists, volunteers, to make a service available to their people.
>These scientists' expectations differ from what the librarians use to 


>Well it seems to me that there is a huge misconception going on. 
>The librarians might know what Q223 means,

Users of LC classified libraries would be able to find material of interest
to them.

> A know classification I certainly don't. Neither 
>would I expect my customers to know this.

I wouldn't expect mine to know UDC or a unesco classification either.

> If schemas get more complex, 
>I also would find 'Q' for Science to be rather broad, whereas the 
>apparent 223 subclassification lacks a certain intuitonal aspect.

The full description of the LC classification occupies about 20 volumes.
Any classification uses obscure codes

> The 
>example in my view quite desperately shows that librarians talk a 
>different tongue.

Agree but we try and reform ;-)

>Name=Biology subject tree in Gopher
>There will be a menu showing 
>      3.  Information Servers in biology (Gopher based)/
>and there you'll find currently 24 gophers that I know of worldwide being 
>engaged in Biology. If you can classify this, fine. However, have a look at 
>the top menu option
>      2.  Gophers in Biology: Tree listing /
>and look at the diversity of the trees of these gophers. Some are of plain 
>informal character, some are WAISed, some are sophisticated file servers. 
>Let your librarians have a look at it. It would be interesting to note 
>what they would do. 

I have seen these. Any classification is a tree structure. To maintain a
set of disjoint classes takes effort. A collection of 10,000 item only need
about 500 braches to organise. A collection of 1,000,000 needs 50,000. Such
classification scheme require major investments in staffing just to
maintain the description of the classification. That is why some schems
like the blis schemes have failed and others have continued like UDC and
LC. You can BUT the conceptual framework and training courses are available
for the staff who are doing the classification.

>Also, be realistic on which information to classify. Because of the 
>difficulty to maintain links (see your own gopher),

Seems OK at my end.

 You certainly can put individual links into the 
>schema, but once the local giys cjhange their offerings, you're done.

The won't change it if they are using a stable published classification. I
would't be confident of a home grown one.
>to average a gopher's content wrt classification. There's where I start 
>to see problems coming up.

Using a published classification the class number determines it's place in
a structure. From the class code you know where in the tree to put it.

>I'd like to know whether a more obvious classification scheme is around 
>in librarian's world than Q223 ... 

I regret NO classifications are obvious but some come with indexes to the
classification. If all else fails you can look up a library catalogue to
find the code that is used ;-)

Regards Tony
Tony Barry. Head, Centre for Networked Access to Scholarly Information

    Australian National University Library     | fone   +61 6 249 4632
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