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Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA Conference Logo

   64th IFLA General Conference
   August 16 - August 21, 1998


Code Number: 104-158(WS)-E
Division Number: IV.
Professional Group: Classification and Indexing
Joint Meeting with: Co-sponsored by UDC/FID/BSI: Workshop "UDC"
Meeting Number: 158.
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

Bilingual (English-Czech) UDC Master Reference File on CD-ROM

Marie Balikova


Bohdana Stoklasova

National Library of the Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic


Stanislav Psohlavec

Albertina icome Praha
Prague, Czech Republic


In 1996 the UDC Consortium provided the National Library of the Czech Republic (NL) with a license authorizing the Library to "publish (or otherwise make available), distribute and sell the edition(s) of UDC schedules". After a period of negotiations between BSI DISC and Albertina icome Praha (AiP), the Czech company responsible for software development and CD-ROM publishing, AiP won a license to publish a bilingual English-Czech UDC MRF. NL translated the UDC Master Reference File and AiP developed a special software and published the bilingual (English-Czech) UDC MRF on CD-ROM. The paper is dealing with the bilingual UDC CD-ROM edition and its role in the new subject cataloging strategy of the NL.


Why a CD-ROM version?

Over the years, the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) has come to be the most widely used classification in Czech libraries: its first application appeared already in the 1930s. During this period, different UDC versions have been translated and used, starting with the full edition, and continuing with the widely popular abridged (middle) edition and the currently used version, utilizing only selected UDC numbers (top level). This latest version, created at the National Library of the Czech Republic (NL), gained popularity among Czech librarians as automation was being introduced in the country's libraries. This version is now the mandatory minimal level subject cataloging for all libraries contributing their records to the Czech Union Catalog.

In 1996 the UDC Consortium provided the National Library with a license authorizing the Library to "publish (or otherwise make available), distribute and sell the edition(s) of UDC schedules" The UDC Consortium supplied NL the UDC Master Reference File (UDC MRF). Since the UDC MRF is basically a CDS/ISIS-based database, we were at an advantage: in the last 15 years we have had extensive experience with the CDS/ISIS system which was used in the early years of library automation at the National Library. This exposure enabled us to overcome the difficulties contained in this not very user-friendly format.

We formed a team of subject specialists, most of whom were also familiar with the CDS/ISIS system. Almost from the inception, the team debated the format in which the final product should be published, mainly trying to decide between paper or other formats. A printed version was the preferred format since that is what both catalogers and end-users are most familiar with. However, the price of the traditional hardbound edition is an expensive undertaking, considering our financial resources. Although a loose-leaf binder seemed to be a better alternative, especially since we learned already during the translation process that additions and changes will make our work slightly obsolete by the time we will have completed our task, this option too could not be supported by our financial resources. We were forced to look for another, more affordable alternative; besides, if the source material is in electronic format, lending itself to constant updating, why not to disseminate the files in the same fashion?

Although we knew we had to develop a special software allowing frequent updates, we opted for the universally accepted CD-ROM format as the correct medium. The flexibility of the electronic version is of course invaluable especially as it introduces many new ways of using the UDC, thus making this a more powerful and friendly tool than the classical printed version. We are just about to publish the second version of the translated UDC-MRF and we have already started translating the newest UDC MRF edition. We developed software which identifies access points that have been revised or updated so that we don't have to review the entire file. Thanks to the medium's flexibility, we will be able to issue this translation as soon as it is finished and we will always be able to keep the UDC MRF up-to-date. And we are relieved that our initial concerns over how Czech librarians will accept the new version, were ungrounded: its reception was a success.

After a period of negotiations between BSI DISC and Albertina icome Praha (AiP), the Czech company responsible for software development and CD-ROM publishing, AiP won a license to publish a bilingual English-Czech UDC MRF (the second edition already is bilingual).

Subject cataloging strategy of the National Library and the role of the electronic version of the UDC MRF

Our goal to create a system whereby subject retrieval is user-friendly was facilitated by issuing the UDC MRF in an electronic version. And of course the overall goal here is to enrich traditional browsing and searching capabilities by a mechanism enabling navigation and multilingual access in large universal databases and on the Internet. The electronic version of the UDC MRF also will help us to speed up subject cataloging and make it more user-friendly, which we view as an important component of library integrated systems.

We have been looking for the best solution for a long time:

We have been hampered in our quest by lack of large databases in our country and by the inability to keep up with international developments. This situation has changed only recently: the number of databases in Czech libraries has grown and the databases themselves are getting bigger. Perhaps most importantly, we started to travel and study abroad.

Searching in our growing databases using free key-words combined with the UDC top level was getting increasingly more onerous. Our subject headings were meant for and derived from printed sources such as catalog cards and the Czech National Bibliography; worse, they lacked strong authority control, the role of which was underestimated in Czech libraries for decades.

Inspired by LC and OCLC, we established NL Subject Headings (NLSH) - the Czech equivalent of the LCSH - and we are going to replace the UDC selected access point (top level) policy with the UDC MRF. Naturally, we also strengthened the role of classification, both in organizing data and searching. We hope that in this way we can contribute to building a bilingual or multilingual database in a hierarchically organized structure.

Despite the attraction of several OCLC projects such as Dewey 2000, DDC 21, Dewey ExTended Concept Trees, we have to continue using UDC classification as it is widely used in our country and it is necessary to continue this tradition, especially so as not to exclude public libraries from the networks.

In view of the new role the traditional library classification scheme (UDC) is playing, we have identified the following necessary changes:

As a result, we expect that in 2001 all bibliographic records representing Czech document production for 1996-2001 will be of high quality, with subject headings created according to the new rules and accompanied by their English equivalents (LCSH). At that time, there should also be a subject authority file linked with the relevant UDC numbers. The Czech version of integrated retrieval information system is intended to correspond to other multilingual projects (i.e. DDC 21).