National Library of Australia

Editorial Policy Committee Meeting June 2011

The Ediitorial Policy Committee held Meeting 134 in Dublin, Ohio at OCLC, 8-10 June 2011

This particular meeting, the first held after the production of the of the Full Print Edition 23, was rather different in some aspects from the usual meetings, being a combination of Exhibits dealing with already necessary changes, mostly of a minor nature, to Edition 23 and a Retreat phase in which the next edition would be developed.

The committee was somewhat dismayed to be faced with the retirement of Giles Martin who has been employed as an Assistant Editor, since 1999. He has since returned home to Australia. Collectively we were also faced with the loss of three Editorial Policy Committee Members; Welna van Eden, the first South African representative, a highly experienced and knowledgeable member whose contributions to the Classification will be sorely missed, Sandra Singh whose latest position as Chief Librarian of the Vancouver Public Library System unfortunately places a great many demands on her , so she has with great regret decided that she can no longer give the time required to be a useful member of the Committee. Sadly, David Farris, the Canadian National Library and Archive representative died suddenly in February. His vast experience as a librarian and his sound commonsense will be sorely missed. We are hoping that Paula Van Strien who is relieving in David’s vacant position will remain as the Canadian representative.

Editorial Activities June 2010-May 2011

In order for the production of the full, or standard, print edition 23 to meet its scheduled availability date in May 2011, no major changes could be made after February. The proofs were received on time by the due date, thanks to the dedicated work of Pansoft, in Germany, where a staff member worked through the night to ensure the whole document was available for production. The scheduled production date was met, and included many of the unexpected regime changes in the Middle East.

Since the previous meeting in June 2010, the activities of the editorial team focussed primarily on the refinement of the newly introduced Editorial Support System 4.0, from which the classification is ultimately produced. Like any new system some rather unexpected peculiarities in data appeared and required fixing - an added complication to the final production and publication of the print edition 23. Attention was also devoted to the development and introduction of the new Webdewey 2.0 as well as the extension of Dewey web services. Of course work with the various translation teams continued.

While major changes to the new edition were not on the agenda, a number of Exhibits did require EPC consideration and action and formed the major focus of the meeting, prior to the retreat part of the meeting, where future developments and possibilities for edition 24 were to be explored.

Editorial Rules

The editorial rules set out the principles and practices which guide the editorial staff and by extension, the Editorial Policy Committee, in the development of the classification according to accepted conventions and practices evolved over the life of the classification to ensure adherence to those principles. It is sometimes the case that while certain conventions have been adhered to they have developed as ‘understood’ practices and not necessarily found in written form. When such unwritten conventions are found they are added to the written document to guide future editors and EPC Members. They are revised from time to time when changes in practice are deemed advisable to reflect the evolution of knowledge and language.

Exhibit 134-7.1 Editorial Rules: Abridged Edition

This Exhibit was a full update of the editorial rules for the abridged edition. As many of the rules for the abridged edition are identical to those for the full edition only exceptions to those rules are included in the rules for the abridged edition. Among important changes is a focus away from “small libraries” to “small general collections”, the replacement of “editorial discretion” with specific rules and changes to the rules for the use of “e.g.”

Exhibit 134- 8 Bukovina

The comprehensive number for Bukovina had been incorrectly placed in previous editions, and this straightforward request for relocation was therefore approved without much need for discussion.

Exhibit 134-11
Four exhibits dealing with aspects of religion were presented for some action by the Editorial Policy Committee. The committee was asked to approve the two Islam exhibits (134-11.2 and 134-11.4) for external review and for posting on the Dewey web site for comment by interested parties. Versions of these papers, revised after due consideration of commentary received from external sources will be presented to the Editorial Policy Committee for final action at an electronic meeting in late August. The remaining two Exhibits (134-11.2 Updates to other parts of 200 Religion and 134-11.3 Chronological/regional view of 200 Religion), were presented for approval by the Editorial Policy Committee for publication in 200 Religion Class and WebDewey towards the latter part of the year.

A couple of questions in 134.11.2, namely 201.5 Interreligious relations, & 299.93 Religions of eclectic and syncretistic origin, were raised respectively by EPC members, Jonathon Furner and Chair Caroline Kent, for further investigation by the editors, with any changes to be sent to the Committee for consideration at Electronic Meeting 134B. These changes are in the process of being addressed by the committee at this moment (September).

Exhibit 134-12 Abridged Edition

While some seven exhibits dealing with Abridged Edition 15, due for publication towards the end of the year, were presented only two of them (134.12.1 proposed extensions to the Abridged Edition Notational Framework and Tables 1, 3 and 4) required any action by the EPC.

The committee was given a preliminary draft of the machine assisted production of the Abridged Edition. Predictably this had a number of unexpected glitches in formatting and data presentation which will be corrected before actual production of the final product. Exhibits 134-12.3.2 (Table 2) and 134-12.5 and 134-12.6 (Schedules) were for discussion only. Revised versions were to be given to the EPC for final action at a later Electronic Meeting 134B. These revised Exhibits are being considered and voted on now (September).

Strategic Planning

A major part of the meeting consisted of lively discussions of a very wide variety of topics related to the future developments of the Dewey decimal classification. A number of exhibits, presentations and demonstrations, many of them initiated by colleagues at the national libraries of Germany, Norway and Sweden, formed the launching pads for wide-ranging exchanges of views on possible future developments of the classification and its relationships with such concepts as the semantic web, what really constitutes an ‘edition’ in a world where WebDewey can be updated virtually overnight, and so on.
For the most part no fully developed Editorial Work Plan for the approximately 7 year cycle culminating in Edition 24 has been developed, and much of the discussion which took place was preliminary and theoretical, and not yet sufficiently developed for publication.

One decision, not put to formal vote, was a change in the way updates and changes to the Classification will be published in future. The Monthly list of changes will no longer be produced as an integrated document. Small immediate changes will be provided by RSS feed and access will be provided to the PDF Documents from which the integrated document was created. I will be interested to receive feedback on how this change works for users and whether or not it is a satisfactory method of providing access to these changes for users of the print editions.

Editorial Work Plan

As stated above, this is not yet fully developed for the complete editorial cycle for the next edition. At the moment it features continuing work on the recently published full edition, projects devoted to work on the Abridged Edition 15 and the separate 200 Religion Class publication, both scheduled for publication towards the end of the year.
The final part of the document includes some preliminary proposals for the next edition. I myself proposed a careful look at Australian history periods for the twentieth century which may need some updating to reflect less broad time periods, depending on literary warrant, plus work on Table 2 administrative areas which have altered over time.


Work on translations continues as Dewey spreads across the world. A new Arabic translation of the full edition is under way at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. One result of the co-operative work being done has been the update to two areas of Islam - historical periods of Islam and Hadith (Traditions) which already feature in Edition 23 and WebDewey.

Among other translation news, work is expected to commence later in 2011 on an Indonesian version of the Abridged Edition at the Indonesian National Library.

The National Library of Norway has begun work on a translation of the full Dewey in a web-only version. (Previously five Norwegian translations were customised versions of the Abridged Dewey.

An agreement for a Vietnamese translation of the full Edition was signed between OCLC and the National Library of Vietnam in August 2010.

The Dewey Team are working closely with the Germany National Library on data migration issues and improvement to WebDewey 2.0.

Education and Training

Delivery of education and training, particularly when a new edition is launched, is a topic of continuing concern to, and discussion by, the committee and the editorial staff. Those members of the committee able to be present the day prior to the meeting were invited to take part in a full day workshop given by the Editorial staff about major changes in the new edition, and featured a hands-on session of classifying using the new edition. Apart from the somewhat hysterically funny sight of EPC Members classifying by committee as it were, it was a very useful exercise in the practical application of new numbers based on decisions made by those committee members.

Partly as a result of this experience we discussed ways of making such training available in digestible segments to as wide an audience as possible via the web. A new Dewey training site now exists at:

As the introduction states:

“We are developing an online set of DDC training materials focused on the needs of experienced librarians who need Dewey application training. (We hope they will also be useful as supplementary materials in other Dewey training contexts, e.g., teaching Dewey to LIS students.) The materials will include a basic course on the structure and use of the DDC, plus a series of short modules based on special topics (including a general overview)”

There are links to this page and the various modules as they become available, so it is worthwhile to check the Dewey Blog for links to training modules as they are developed and for a possible new link in the future.

Formal Meetings

While generally the EPC holds two in-person Meetings each year, as the major focus of the editors is to produce Abridged Edition 15 and the updated 200 Religion Schedules for publication by the end of 2011, and most decisions relating to these publications have already been made ‘in principle’, any issues arising will be dealt with in a series of Electronic Meetings.

The next face to face meeting, focussed on the new edition, while proposed for mid-May 2012 will possibly be held in June, depending on various commitments of committee members. The work of the EPC will continue via the discussion list, electronic meetings or teleconferences as required.

Dewey and the user Community

Without the world Dewey user community the classification would cease to exist. The Dedication in edition 23: “Dedicated to the world wide Dewey user community” sums this fact up succinctly and without the input of this community the DDC would be a far less useful and evolving classification. Any classification system must be developed within certain guiding principles, but user views do count and do make a difference. Our users are encouraged to raise issues of concern with both the editors and the Editorial Policy Committee members at any time. The Dewey Blog is an invaluable means of keeping up with knotty classification issues and discussions, as is the Dewey Web Page and the EPC and editorial staff are delighted to hear from the on-the-ground practitioners of the art of classification by Dewey.

A look at the long list of contributors to this latest edition surely makes it clear that you are listened to and do indeed make a difference.

Anne M Robertson
Deputy Chair and Australian Representative