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Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA Conference Logo

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


Code Number: 119-79-E
Division Number: IV.
Professional Group: Division of Bibliographic Control
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 79.
Simultaneous Interpretation:   Yes

Classification and Indexing - Review of Activities, 1997-98

Ia C. McIlwaine
University College London
London, United Kingdom



The aim of the Section on Classification and Indexing is to act as a forum for users and producers of classification and subject indexing tools. Its terms of reference are to promote standardization and uniform application of classification and subject indexing tools by institutions generating or utilizing bibliographic records; to initiate and promote advice on research in the subject approach to information; and to disseminate research results through open meetings and publications.

Working Group on Principles Underlying Subject Heading Language (SHLs)

The Working Group on principles Underlying Subject Heading Languages (SHLs) chaired by Maria Inês Lopes (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal) drafted its final report and submitted it for worldwide review towards the end of 1997. The responses were asked for by February and the Working group members have now reached agreement on the changes that need to be made in the light of that review. The final version should be complete, validated and ready for publication by the end of June.

Requirements for a Format for Classification Data

As reported at last year's IFLA, the Joint Working Group recommended in 1997 that a UNIMARC format for classification data to parallel the contents and development of the MARC format for Classification Data should be developed. The recommendation was accepted by the Permanent UNIMARC Committee (PUC) in March 1997 and responsibility for this has now passed from the Section to the Permanent UNIMARC Committee. The Section is represented on the Working Group which was set up and met for the first time in Copenhagen. It has continued to correspond throughout the year via a listserv set up for this specific purpose and a second draft of the format will be circulated to members before the Amsterdam IFLA where there will be a meeting of the Working Group. It is also anticipated that there will be a preliminary meeting in June with those members who are present at "Crimea 98".

State of the Art Survey on Subject Headings

During the IFLA Conference in Copenhagen the Standing Committee discussed the recall on a questionnaire sent out by Dorothy McGarry in 1996 to the national libraries around the world. The main questions concerned the subject indexing languages used for the purposes of the national bibliography and the catalogues of the national library, classifications used instead or additionally to verbal indexing, manuals, etc. Unfortunately, the recall was rather poor, only 36 answers arrived, but the Section felt that they were interesting enough to continue the work. Therefore a second questionnaire was sent out in January 1998 by Magda Heiner-Freiling to 110 countries which did not answer the first letter. This time also a French, Spanish and German version was offered to those regions where English is not so frequently used. The deadline for the replies is May, but at the time of writing 42 national libraries have answered, among them many which are very interested in establishing a permanent contact with IFLA and the Standing Committee Though most answers do not go into great detail regarding the subject indexing systems used and so perhaps do not offer enough information for the thorough study originally planned, the feedback in itself is rewarding and helps getting in touch with colleagues in the subject indexing departments of national libraries all over the world. Further usage of the information received (perhaps as an IFLANET publication) will be discussed during the meetings of the Standing Committee in Amsterdam. Chair of the Working Group is Magda Heiner-Freiling (Deutsche Bibliothek Adickesallee 1 D-60322 Frankfurt e-mail : heiner@dbf.ddb.de).

International Conference on National Bibliographic Services

The Section has been invited to contribute in the forthcoming conference on National Bibliographic Services, to be held in Copenhagen, Nov. 27-27 1998, in two ways. It will be represented by the chair of the section and it was also asked to submit a discussion paper on the role of the subject approach in national bibliographies. This was prepared by Lois Chan and Ia McIlwaine and circulated to committee members in December 1997, prior to submission for circulation to delegates at the conference, together with the other working papers.

Programme for Amsterdam conference

The Section has a full programme for Amsterdam. The following papers will be presented:

There will be two workshops, one on the French translation of the Dewey Decimal Classification and one on the Universal Decimal Classification.

Section newsletter

The section continues to publish an annual Newsletter for Section members, for members of the Standing Committee and for others interested in classification and indexing. This acts as a channel for imparting information about what is happening at national level and for sharing in the experiences of others. It is also an excellent forum for the discussion of matters of international concern relating to classification and indexing. Contributions are always very welcome.

Standing committee membership and officers

Membership of the Section at present stands at 99. There are at present twenty members of the Standing Committee, representing fifteen different countries. At the Copenhagen meeting Ia McIlwaine (UK) was elected as chair of the section and Edward Swanson (USA) as Secretary. Edward Swanson was also elected as Secretary to the Co-ordinating Board of the Division of Bibliographic Control.

Co-operative projects

Ia McIlwaine (University College London) and Edward Swanson (Minnesota Historical Society) attended the meeting of the Co-ordinating Board of Bibliographic Control at the Deutsche Bibliothek on April 27-28 1998.

The Section continues to cooperate with other IFLA Sections and Divisions and with the Permanent UNIMARC Committee in various projects and activities.