The representation of knowledge in library classification schemes

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This article explores the representation of knowledge through the discursive practice of general or universal classification schemes. These classification schemes were constructed within a philosophical framework which viewed man as the central focus in the universe, which believed in progress through science and research, and which privileged written documentation over other forms. All major classification schemes are built on clearly identifiable systems of knowledge, and all classification schemes, as discursive formations, regulate the ways in which knowledge is made accessible. Of particular interest in determining how knowledge is represented in classification schemes are the following: - Main classes: classification theorists have attempted to discipline epistemology in the sense of imposing main class structures with the view to simplifying access to knowledge in documents for library users. - Notational language: a number of classification theorists were particularly interested in the establishment of symbolic languages through notation. The article considers these aspects of classification theory in relation to: the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme; Otlet and La Fontaine's Universal Bibliographic Classification and the International Institute of Bibliography; Henry Evelyn Bliss's Bibliographic Classification; and S.R. Ranganathan's Colon Classification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-191
Number of pages12
JournalKnowledge Organization
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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