Readers of the Dewey blog will recall that we recently extensively revised 583-584, updating the schedules for angiosperms in accordance with the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group's updated classification of flowering plants (APG III). And last week, you got to meet Dewey and Deci, OCLC's new resident swans. We noted in the latter post that you might have noticed some other changes in the schedules for living organisms. These changes were approved at Meetings 139 and 139A of the Editorial Policy Committee earlier this year. All told, the changes come throughout the schedules at 579, and from 585 to 599.
None of these changes is quite as extensive as those implemented for angiosperms. The basic taxonomic classification of non-angiosperm plants (585-589), animals (592-599), and microorganisms, fungi, and algae (579) has not changed, but notes at these numbers have been systematically streamlined. The changes will make these areas of the schedules easier to navigate and to translate into other languages.
Prior to these changes, common names and scientific names have been mixed in the same headings and including or class-here notes. For example, if you look in a print copy of DDC 23, the including note at 592.3 Worms reads, "Including Echiurida (spoonworms), Phoronida (horseshoe worms), Pogonophora (beardworms), Priapulida." Items in including or class-here notes are typically arranged alphabetically, but in these cases, the common names get a bit scattered, since they're attached to equivalent scientific names.
We haven't used multiple class-here notes at the same number before, but there are some instances of multiple including notes scattered in these parts of the schedules of the print DDC 23. Take a look at 597.73 or 595.763 for an example. In those cases, you’ll find common names in both notes, because some are in parentheses next to scientific names. Section 7.18 of the Introduction allowed two including notes in the taxonomy schedules, but there were still plenty of instances where all terms were lumped into one note. (We're in the process of updating the Introduction to reflect the new practice.) The updated version looks much cleaner, and brings consistency to this area. Instances of class-here notes that mix scientific and common names have also been split; this is a new practice.
For headings that had both types of names, we've moved the term in parentheses to a class-here or an including note, depending on whether the topic approximates the whole of the class. So as we noted last week, 598.4184 Cygnus buccinator (Trumpeter swan) has been changed to 598.4184 Cygnus buccinator, and it now has a note, "Class here trumpeter swan." We expect a cataloger trying to make a classification decision will be looking for a specific name, whether common or scientific, so we hope this will make a given term easier to find.
The other main type of change in these schedules makes it easier to identify different terms in including and class-here notes, and should also ease translation. Let’s take a look at 597.9636 Vipera, about a genus of vipers. The print DDC 23's class-here note reads, "Class here asp; common, Lebanese, Portuguese, sand adders." If you take a second to process it, you can recognize that everything after the semicolon is a different type of adder; a term like "Portuguese" there doesn't stand alone, and "Class here Portuguese" wouldn't make any sense in this context anyway. The main benefit of this convention was conciseness. That’s crucial when you’re printing a four-volume print work, but not so much in a digital format. Here’s what we have now: "Class here asp, common adder, Lebanese adder, Portuguese adder, sand adder." No more need to look back and forth to match up your adjectives. Each term before a comma stands alone.
At some point, we'll revisit these areas of the schedules. Taxonomy of living organisms can shift a good deal as a result of scientific advances. Undertakings like the angiosperms update don’t get finished overnight, but in the future, we hope to encounter scientific consensus similar to that of APG III, so we can update accordingly.