The first meeting of the European DDC Users’ Group (EDUG) was held June 11-12 at the Swiss National Library (SNL) in Bern. Participants hailed from ten European countries; I also attended. The first day was a one-day open workshop, “The Use of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) in Europe: Recent Developments and Future Perspectives.” The second day was devoted to the organization of EDUG.
In her opening remarks, Elena Balzardi (SNL) noted that Switzerland was an ideal location for the meeting—it is a multilingual country, and the national library has a strong interest in using international standards. The national bibliography (“Swiss Book”) is organized by Dewey, and the open access collection is arranged by Dewey.
Patrice Landry (SNL) outlined the ways in which the Swiss National Library has contributed to the use and development of the DDC. Classifiers at the library regularly use editions of the DDC in four languages (English, French, German, and Italian). SNL staff worked closely with Konsortium DDC Deutsch on the German translation of DDC 22, and made proposals for developments (mostly geographic) to the Dewey editorial team. SNL also assists libraries throughout Switzerland in use of the system.
Representatives of three national libraries discussed the use of the DDC in Italy, Germany, and France, respectively. In “DDC in Italy,” Federica Paradisi (Biblioteca nazionale centrale di Firenze [BNCF]) traced the history of DDC translation activities in Italy from 1958 to the present day. She described the areas in which BNCF and the Dewey editorial team worked closely on expansions: ancient and modern Italy, Italian history (including a new expansion for the history of Sardinia), and Italian political parties. She also identified civil law, common names of plants and animals, and levels of education as areas of challenge for the Italian team, and places where European collaboration might be fruitful.
In “Dewey en France,” Anne-Céline Lambotte (Bibliothèque nationale de France [BnF]) described the organization and use of Dewey at BnF. Dewey is used in the French national bibliography and to organize the open shelf collection. A Dewey authority file is maintained for all new numbers assigned. There are currently 150,000 records in the file—70,000 complete records with numbers, captions, and usage notes, and another 80,000 partial records. Ms. Lambotte discussed the pros and cons of use of the DDC in a European context, and mentioned some of the same topics as Ms. Paradisi concerning areas of the DDC in which European collaboration on proposals could improve the system.
Heidrun Alex (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek [DNB]) outlined the history of the German translation and use of the DDC in “Dewey in Germany.” She also described the growing use of the DDC in the German national bibliography from broad subject categorization in 2004 to the current practice (beginning in November of 2006) of application of full Dewey numbers to the main series (~100,000 titles/year). Dr. Alex reviewed recent collaborative efforts in representation and mappings, and noted that such efforts are the “backbone of many endeavours connected with retrieval,” and “bring together classification and subject indexing.”
In “Locality and Universality in the DDC,” I discussed how international collaboration has shaped the DDC, and the potential such collaboration offers for the future of the system. In the mid-1990s, we began to move from an approach rooted primarily in local needs to one in which local needs and interoperability were of equal importance in translations and other editions of the DDC. We are now in the midst of another transition—one in which local needs and interoperability need to be viewed in a broader context than simply within the relationship between the English-language standard edition and another edition. International collaboration on matters related to content, viewpoint, representation, relationships, and structure will be critical to the continued development and use of the DDC in a global context.
The afternoon session was devoted to technical issues. Peter Werling (Pansoft) demonstrated the translation support software used by the French, German, Italian, and Vietnamese translations (and currently under testing at Bibliotheca Alexandrina for the Arabic translation). In “Integrating Browsing over DDC Notations in Library Portals,” Lars G. Svensson (DNB) discussed DDC-based browsers and DNB’s MelvilSearch. He outlined several technical and structural challenges in implementing DDC-based browsers in electronic environments. Ulrike Reiner (Verbundzentrale des Gemeinsamen Bibliotheksverbundes) described her methodology for decomposing Dewey numbers in “Automatic Analysis of DDC Notations.” She focused on the first of her two research questions: “Is it possible to automatically decompose molecular DDC notations into atomic DDC notations?” She plans to address a second question in future research: “Is it possible to improve automatic classification and retrieval by means of atomic DDC notations?”
In the closing address, Magda Heiner-Freiling (DNB) summed up the themes addressed by the earlier speakers in “Cooperation, Compatibility, Localization, Transparency: Issues for EDUG.” She made a number of interesting suggestions for future projects for European collaboration and broader international involvement, including bringing a European perspective to the education schedule, cooperating on technical tools, and studying approaches to transparency in DDC notation (“speaking numbers”).
The second day of the EDUG meeting was devoted to organizational matters. Attendees reviewed draft bylaws for EDUG, but postponed action on adoption. The group also organized three working groups: 340 Law (to focus on the treatment of legal systems based on civil law); 370 Education (to review content, viewpoint, and structure for European educational systems); and technical issues (to focus on Dewey research projects and web services). The 340 Law Working Group, chaired by Yvonne Jahns (DNB), will hold its first meeting in conjunction with the World Library and Information Congress (IFLA 2007) in Durban in August 2007.
The next meeting of EDUG is tentatively planned for April 2008 in Frankfurt.