Dewey Decimal Classification Trending Downward in U.S. Academic Libraries, but Unlikely to Disappear Completely
A Review of:
Lund, B., & Agbaji, D. (2018). Use of Dewey Decimal Classification by academic libraries in the United States. Cataloging and Classification Quarterly, 56(7), 653-661. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2018.1517851
Objective – To determine the current use of Dewey Decimal Classification in academic libraries in the United States of America (U.S.).
Design – Cross-sectional survey using a systematic sampling method.
Setting – Online academic library catalogues in the U.S.
Subjects – 3,973 academic library catalogues.
Methods – The researchers identified 3,973 academic libraries affiliated with degree-granting post-secondary institutions in the U.S. The researchers searched each library’s online catalogue for 10 terms from a predetermined list. From the results of each search, the researchers selected at least five titles, noted the classification scheme used to classify each title, and coded the library as using Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), Library of Congress Classification (LCC), both DDC and LCC, or other classification schemes.
Based on the results of their data collection, the researchers calculated totals. The totals of this current study’s data collection were compared to statistics on DDC usage from two previous reports, one published in 1975 and one in 1996. The researchers performed statistical analyses to determine if there were any discernible trends from the earliest reported statistics through to the current study.
Main Results – Collections classified using DDC were present in 717 libraries (18.9%). Adjusting for the increase in the number of academic libraries in the U.S. between 1975 and 2017, DDC usage in academic libraries has declined by 56% in that time frame. The number of libraries with only DDC in evidence is unreported.
Conclusion – The previous four decades have seen a significant decrease in the use of DDC in U.S. academic libraries in favour of LCC; however, the rate at which DDC has disappeared from academic libraries has slowed dramatically since the 1960s. There is no clear indication that DDC will disappear from academic libraries completely.
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