National Library of Australia

Editorial Policy Committee Meeting June 2012

The Ediitorial Policy Committee held Meeting 135 in Dublin, Ohio at OCLC, 11-12 June 2012


The meeting held in Dublin, Ohio while having the normal full Agenda, was rather different in some respects, with a number of changes proposed to the way both the Committee and the Editorial Team would conduct the development and presentation of the Classification to take advantage of rapidly evolving changes in the technological world, the not quite so rapidly emerging changes in the nature of how libraries themselves are changing the ways in which they do business, and the need at times to make rapid decisions about certain changes to the classification which cannot be deferred to the annual face-to-face EPC Meeting. 

As Rebecca Green notes in her summary of EPC Meeting 135 on The Dewey blog, this particular meeting had a strong people component to it. 

The National Library and Archives Canada did not send a representative this year; however the Committee welcomed two new members. 

  • Pat Riva, Coordinator of the Monographs Section in the Cataloguing Directorate for Heritage Collections (Direction du traitement documentaire des collections patrimoniales) at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in Montreal, Canada
  • Gert de Jager, Subject Cataloguer, Unisa Library, University of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa.


Elections for the Chair (2012-13) and Vice Chair (2013-14) were held and partly as a tribute to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year, Caroline Kent (British Library) was re-elected as Chair, and Jonathan Furner (UCLA, former Assistant Editor, and English by birth) was elected as Deputy Chair. Members can only serve for a maximum 4 years in these positions and my second term as Deputy Chair finishes at the end of 2012, although I remain as a Committee Member.


The agenda considered a number of proposals related to the modification of EPC and Dewey editorial team work methods (Exhibits 135.6 & 135.6.1) 

To quote in part from Exhibit 135.6 Editorial Work Plan;

 “In the past, we have developed and presented a seven-year work plan following the publication of the full and abridged editions of the DDC.  The work plan has traditionally included as one of the elements a review of every schedule and table within the seven-year cycle...

The primary driver behind our editorial work is the question, how do we create value in the DDC—in the basic system, in mappings and links, in translations, in authorized derivative works, in different forms of representation of the system—to facilitate organization and discovery in the current and future information environment?  ...


We certainly expect to continue to give high priority to sci/tech areas, social issues, media, law, education, peoples, languages, geographic areas, historical periods, and terminology throughout the DDC.  Taxonomic classifications in the life sciences and special notation for archaeology have already been identified by our users as key areas of disciplinary review.  While we are recommending pulling back from review of every schedule, we expect to review Tables 1-6 and corresponding T1-T6 provisions in the schedules (including in internal tables).”

Some concerns were expressed that it had always been part of the DDC ethos to review all schedules as each edition was produced and would the proposal to change this affect views of its reliability in the future.  However it is a fact that not all areas of the classification are subject to continuous change and remain fairly constant. This, together with the review of the ripple effects of any changes throughout the whole DDC may well justify the proposal to alter the way the schedules are reviewed, particularly as it is now possible to make changes on a daily basis within the schedules.

During the development of Edition 23 a short term/ long term strategy cycle of development was introduced (outlined more fully in  Exhibit 135-6.1 originally published for user comments) predicated on a semi-annual face to face EPC Meeting, supplemented by discussions in electronic format of various sorts. These underlying assumptions have changed somewhat since 2004, and with one face to face meeting and the ability to make more use of technological changes in communication, the Committee approved the proposed new framework to reduce direct EPC involvement in routine/minor changes; promote timely development and update of the DDC, and free time at face-to-face EPC meetings for major updates and strategic discussions. All proposals are in line with the EPC Bylaws.


“... all major changes to the DDC will be introduced in the context of a face-to-face meeting. Such changes include:

  • Major changes to a discipline, a subject within a discipline, or an interdisciplinary subject
  • Significant changes to the auxiliary tables (other than Table 2)
  • Structural changes

The initial discussion of the proposed change will include a timetable for discussion and review (including outside review), and final action by EPC.

In some limited situations (e.g., critical changes required for a translation), the timetable for final action will be briefer than that afforded by the annual face-to-face meeting cycle. In such cases  the timetable will include a webinar with EPC members for presentation and discussion of the final exhibit. The webinar will be followed by a vote over EPC-L in a time period to be agreed upon at the end of the webinar." 

It was suggested by the Committee that if possible, the annual face-to-face meetings be alternated between Columbus, Ohio and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as the highly experienced Dewey classifiers would then be able to attend meetings on their specific areas of expertise and give the Committee the benefit of their experience with use of the classification and identify quickly developing topics not yet adequately catered for in Dewey. 

The agenda also included expansion of the editorial rules for segmentation, for oceans and seas and updates to the classification. There will be a new standard subdivision for archaeology, and the Committee approved minor updates to Table 2 Geographic Areas as well as updates to 004-006 Computer Science (a part of the classification which is expected to require continuing frequent revision in the foreseeable future) and revisions were also approved in 330 Economics. 

A number of Discussion Papers covering a broad spectrum of topics were considered by the Committee. These included Administrative Divisions in Queensland, a discussion which continues as we grapple with a number of questions, dependent in some part on government legislation in various jurisdictions still in flux. During the process of working on this topic it transpired that the Dewey Archive’s copy of the original 1988 Australian Place Names Extensions publication was missing. This publication was largely incorporated into the next full Dewey edition, none the less it is an important tool for developing newer guidelines. Winton Matthews, technically retired as an Assistant Editor, but still working on special projects for the Classification remembered it, and Giles Martin also technically retired but working on special projects sent copies of some pages to the editors. However, thanks to the National Library of Australia, I was able to deliver a copy of the publication to the Dewey Archival Collection for which they are extremely grateful. Exactly why or how it went missing from the Archive remains a mystery. 

Other discussion papers included matters relating to Islamic law, the treatment of marriage, partnerships and unions in the Classification, and the possible adoption of a new taxonomic basis for 583-584 Angiosperms. The Committee approved follow-up discussions and wider consultation on all topics, with the exception of Angiosperms for the moment. 

A proposal, arising from a request passed on earlier by me in relation to non-lethal police and military weapons has been deferred awaiting a complete review of the treatment of weapons throughout the classification. It is expected that this matter will be discussed at Meeting 136. 

The Committee also discussed at some length ways to engage with Dewey users and the role of social media, and presentations were also made to the group on such matters as modelling topics in the DDC, edit-level metadata, DDC training, DDC research, data provenance, imminent enhancements to WebDewey 2.0, and the virtual chronological/regional religion browser.  One of the interesting concepts was the idea of one WebDewey with either the full or abridged editions treated as particular views of the one database. 

The sales data report presented by Libbie Crawford, Product Manager, detailing sales of both print and WebDewey editions was extremely interesting, and one wonders what the trend will mean for the format of future editions. Prior to the release of the latest full print edition 23, demand for the printed edition was high enough to require a reprint of edition 22, but the number of printed full edition 23 sales is lower than expected, although WebDewey2.0 is doing well. Institutions that normally purchase both the Web version and multiple copies of the print edition have considerably reduced the number of print copies purchased.

This could be evidence of a push by institutions to make staff use the Web version in preference to the print version, or a result of hard economic times. Certainly improvements to WebDewey 2.0 instigated by both the production team and users make this product easier to use, but both formats have their uses, and the question of whether or not the print version will exist indefinitely is of some interest. This remains a speculative question: certainly no statement has been made that print will no longer be produced. 

As of now, the full suite of print versions, full, abridged, and the Religion separate have all been published and are available for purchase to users. 

Following on the alteration in operation of both the EPC and the editorial staff the first two electronic meetings have been scheduled. Meeting 135A will take place in the first week in October and will focus on Islamic Law, while Meeting 135B has been scheduled for the first week in November to consider a revised proposal on marriage, partnership and unions. The next face-to-face meeting of EPC—Meeting 136 -- is scheduled to take place at OCLC headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, 13-14 May 2013. 

Electronic meetings are often inconvenient from a time viewpoint for some members of the EPC, however the Webinars will be recorded and a full vote will be taken via the EPC Discussion List after all voting members have considered the topics. 

The first routine updates to the DDC that were automatically implemented on August 28 time have already been published for use by classifiers. However what is at first glance a simple or routine matter often turns out to be not so routine, so how the changed work procedures work will be a matter of some interest to all of us, although these first changes seem uncontroversial. 

While the Committee has previously attempted to function with one face-to-face meeting, supplemented by Teleconferences and email discussions, and concluded that these procedures were less than satisfactory at the time, so moved back to semi-annual face-to-face meetings, we are hopeful that as technology has moved on the current proposals for handling the various types of changes will be workable. No doubt we will assess this at Meeting 136. 

Meanwhile the work of the Dewey Editorial Team continues, and suggestions and ideas from users are encouraged as always.