Back in June I enjoyed meeting with colleagues at the 2009
North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization, the biennial meeting of
the International Society for Knowledge Organization–Chapter for Canada and
the United States, held at
The School of Information Studies at Syracuse hosted the symposium in splendid style. In welcoming us, Dean Liz Liddy noted that NASKO was the first conference to be held in their newly renovated building and expressed how appropriate it was that the first meeting there should be one dedicated to knowledge organization. “Classification is really the core of every endeavor; I value your work.” It was gratifying to be appreciated for what we collectively do.
The theme for the symposium, the first official meeting of the chapter, was Pioneering North American Contributions to Knowledge Organization. The goal of the symposium was to serve as an “occasion . . . to take stock of our past in light of the present and with an eye to how this living heritage might be leveraged for the future.”
Several of the papers (all of which are available on dLIST) addressed themes relevant to our work with the DDC. Through the lens of Paul Ricoeur’s distinction between language and discourse, Grant Campbell addressed the tension between global and local perspectives in knowledge organization: how can our systems be interoperable, which would enable access to information resources on a global level, but still preserve that which is specific to the cultures and communities they serve? Linda Hill presented a paper on geocoding in KO, a topic that editor Michael Panzer has also been exploring of late. One of two papers presented by Tom Dousa examined evolutionary order in the theories and classificatory practices of Ernest Cushing Richardson and Charles Ammi Cutter, contemporaries of Melvil Dewey.
Lastly, I presented a paper on the notational system that Melvil Dewey devised for the DDC. (I always love it when Dewey gets the last word!) Just to whet your appetite, I repeat here the paper’s abstract: “Historically, the notational system of the Dewey Decimal Classification provided for non-institution-specific, relative location shelf arrangements, thus substantially reducing bibliographic classification effort. Today its decimal notation continues to provide the classification scheme with flexible granularity, is hospitable to expansion, expresses relationships, interfaces well with modern retrieval systems, and is internationally understood.”