We’re the first to admit that the top-level view of 200 Religion in the DDC is problematic. In the last two editions of the DDC, we’ve reduced Christian bias and provided deeper representations for numerous religions throughout 200, but the fact remains that Christianity is still prominently featured at the three-digit level. At the present time, the only way to transform the top-level view is to use one of the optional developments suggested at 290 (we wrote about the optional developments and the results of a web-based survey on their use last October).
Ia McIlwaine (chair of the Universal Decimal Classification Consortium and former editor-in-chief of the UDC) and I are working together on a research project to study the introduction of a chronological/regional view of religion in Dewey based on the development introduced in UDC in 2000. Our research question follows: Can we use UDC’s Class 2 (Religion. Theology) as the framework for an alternative view of religion in the DDC and a model for the future revision of 200 Religion? We reported on work to date, preliminary findings, and next steps at the ISKO Conference in Vienna on July 7. Readers might be especially interested in slide 13, which shows an excerpt of 200 Religion reordered in a chronological/regional view similar to the arrangement found in UDC. We are working with our colleagues in the OCLC Office of Research to develop a prototype that would offer a web-based chronological/regional view of 200 Religion for all users. We are also investigating replacement of the current set of optional arrangements in the DDC with a single optional arrangement based on the same view found in the prototype (and interoperable with the standard edition of Dewey). The prototype and new optional arrangement will also facilitate dialog with users about the future structure of 200 Religion. We’ve invited Ia McIlwaine to speak at the October 2006 EPC Meeting in Washington, DC, and participate in the discussion about virtual improvements and potential long-term structural changes in 200 Religion.