Standardization in KO

The Universal Decimal Classification, UDC is issued by British Standards Institution. The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) is a kind of de facto standard for public libraries in the USA as OCLC (2005) writes:


"In the United States, 95 percent of all public and K-12 school libraries, 25 percent of college and university libraries and 20 percent of special libraries use the DDC. More than 200,000 libraries worldwide in 135 countries count on the DDC to keep their collections organized so that their users can easily locate the resources they need. DDC has been translated into more than 30 languages. "


Such standardization of classification systems may be considered a management-oriented approach because its main benefits are related to management criteria of efficiency: The reuse of cataloging data in many libraries, for example.  Such an approach has also drawbacks. Although classification systems like Bliss are often considered more advanced systems, they have never been able to gain a foothold. Consequently, research in improved classification systems is almost vast because systems that may more advanced from a research perspective may be turned down by administrative causes. 


Systems like the DDC is based on the premise that one system is the best for all purposes (cf., Miksa, 1998, 73, 87). This is epistemological a problematic assumption, while standardization and management interests may be in conflict with the goal of establishing optimal systems for specific tasks or groups of users.


Standardization also involves other forms of knowledge organizing systems, e.g. guidelines for the design of thesauri (cf., ISO 2788).






ISO 2788: Guidelines for the Establishment and Development of Monolingual Thesauri. 2.ed. International Organization for Standardization (ISO), 1986.


Miksa, F. (1998). The DDC, the Universe of Knowledge, and the Post-Modern Library. Albany, NY: Forest Press.


OCLC (2005). Dewey services.




See also: Individual versus shared KOS; Standards, norms & guidelines; Standardization work (Epistemological lifeboat)




Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 21-06-2006