This year's meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) kicked off on Friday, and a delegation from Dewey Manor was there on Saturday for the 16th Workshop of ASIS&T's Special Interest Group on Classification Research (SIG/CR). Workshop chair Jack Andersen (Royal School of Library and Information Science, Denmark) and his committee had put together a fascinating program of talks, and participants greatly appreciated the amount of time that was built in for general discussion.
Unfortunately, scheduled keynote speaker Joacim Hansson (University College of Borås and Göteborg University, Sweden) was unable to attend, so Fernando Elichirigoity (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) got things underway with a critique (co-authored by Cheryl Knott Malone of the University of Arizona) of the North American Industry Classification System's coverage of the "new economy" that is based on open-source software production. Fernando and Cheryl argued that data on the productivity of this sector remains unrecorded due to the absence of appropriate classes in NAICS, and that this absence is partly a result of NAICS' use of copyright-holding status as a criterion when identifying productive units.
Melanie Feinberg (University of Washington) reported on her comparative study of the ways in which library collections arranged using different classification schemes express the relationship between feminism as a concept and women as a social group. Melanie's paper was followed by discussion of how researchers might distinguish in such studies between the role of the classification scheme itself and the role of individual classifiers' interpretations of the scheme; some attendees identified an urgent need for further user studies in this area.
Hans Jørn Nielsen (Royal School of Library and Information Science, Denmark) presented the first of the day's two papers on the indexing of imaginative literature (i.e., fiction), asking whether it is desirable or even possible to index the subject matter of such literature given that it is characterized by ambiguity and plurality of meaning. Some attendees suggested that all texts, literary or otherwise, have different meanings for different readers; does that mean that all indexing is worthless? The group briefly considered the apparently timeless question of whether manual classification remains necessary given the capabilities of automatic indexing systems, before discussing the value of a "third way": collaborative indexing, by members of particular communities of practice, using a wiki-based system to assign multiple class-labels that represent multiple points of view.
After lunch, Frank Exner, Little Bear (North Carolina Central University) gave a detailed account of the issues involved in establishing effective authority control over North American Indian names. Three challenges in particular stand out: the diversity of patterns formed by the constituent elements of American Indian names; the fact that many people retain more than one name at any given time; and the fact that many people are known by different names at different points of their life. Little Bear concluded by making specific recommendations for changes in AACR2.
In a paper co-authored with G. Craig Murray, Kara Reuter (University of Maryland, College Park) summarized four cognitive-psychological accounts of the variation observed in children's and adults' performance of tasks that involve categorization. Kara argued that such performance depends primarily on context, and that the development of categorization ability should most properly be understood as the development of cultural expertise. Kara identified the need for further study of the implications of these findings for our understanding of children's and adults' ability to use bibliographic classification systems.
In the final paper of the day, Rune Eriksson (Royal School of Library and Information Science) revisited the theme introduced earlier by Hans, focusing on the ways in which the classification of imaginative literature has historically been treated by the DDC. Rune spoke persuasively of the benefits of a faceted approach that allows for the expression of the themes, styles, narrative structures, and sub-genres of literary works (as well as language, form, period, and place), and the group identified the potential value of browsing-based systems that take advantage of the DDC's faceted structure. And then, suddenly, it was 5 o'clock. Everyone agreed that we'd done a good job, and that we should celebrate by finding the nearest bar. Cheers!