Roles are changing in every profession in the 21st century. This is because of the proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICTs). None is more affected like librarianship and information work because they are located at the centre of the best. Thus, the must seek a futuristic approach in order to be relevant in the schemers of information handling. It is on this basis that library classification and is allied importance was discussed in this work. The work emphasized on the challenges faced by classifier with the roles in a global information environment.
Keywords: Classifier, Information Communication Technology, Classification
Librarianship has always bordered itself on effective ways of making information resources available and accessible to those who need them. This has eventually led to the development of some procedures for the description of document to allow users/ readers identify them easily without much problem. These methodology procedures in turn, gave rise to cataloging, indexing and classification. Classification as the bedrock of systematic library which according to scholar is the hyphen that joins the buckle that fasten the reader and his document.
If libraries are to function effectively in the present day Ade Adeleke and Olorunshola (2009) posits, that the manual processes and methods will definitely have to give way to Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) and a computer driven environment. To ensure this, there will be need for training and retraining one of the part of the librarian in order to keep abreast with the recent development in the field of library and information sciences. It is also in line with this, that Imo and Etim (2001) argued that the emergence of ICTs altered the way information is stored dissemination and accessed. This has brought about a utilitarian value of information, now a resource of utmost value and importance social and economic development. These (development), they further stressed, has led to the need for more efficient method to acquire, process, store and access the matric of information which has grown exponentially.
To understand the whole concept and meaning of classification let us look at a few definitions.
In its simplest term classification is a process of grouping ideas or objects on the basis of likeness and separating them from the unlike. It can also been seen as the arrangement of books on shelves or description of them in a manner which is most helpful to those who require access.
Classification plays a significant role in the organization, physical arrangement , access and retrieval of the library and materials Accordingly different standard classification system e.g. Deway Decimal Classification (DDC), Library of Congress Classification ILCC), and Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) have been developed for this purpose (Idress & Mahmood, 2009).
Moreover, Amusa and Iyoro (2011) stressed that “Classification” refers to translation of the subject into codes of original numbers. These numbers represent definite subjects. The codes are called “Call number or class mark”
Lois Mal (1994) as cited by Olayemi (2008) defined “ Library classification as the system of coding and organizing library materials (books, serials, audiovisual materials, computer files, maps). According to their subjects and allocating a call number to those information resources”.
From the above definitions, we can infer that classification is the systematic arrangement of documents while library classification aims at providing formal access to those documents via call number. It can also be seen that classification of library resources encompasses both print and non- print resources.
Purpose and Importance of Library Classification
One cannot perform the act of reasoning unless one posses the power of classifying. We can go to the extent of saying that in order to distinguishing objects we should be able to visualize or see it (Langride, 1973).
Basically, there are three (3) possible ways in which a reader may demand materials in the library.
i. He may ask by the name of the author ii. By title
iii. By the subject (subject approach)
Whichever way the reader chooses to get his materials, classification is the means of facilitating it. The need for classification is therefore even greater in the global information networking environment. We now create, generate, store, organize and disseminate different types of documents on the same subject (s) which were hitherto scattered throughout collection because of their diverse physical form.
Classification serves to facilitate following in organization of resources:
· Helpful Sequence: Arranging document in a method most convenient to the users and staff of the library.
· Correct Replacement and Shelf Reading: Documents alter being taken out of the shelves by users of library staff could afterwards be replaced in their proper places.
· Mechanized Arrangement: If a library decides to use a particular arrangement suitable for its collection then on normal situation it should not be changed.
· Addition of New Documents: From time to time new documents are being acquired into the library and it is classification that should find the most suitable palace for each among the already existing collection of the library.
· Withdrawal of Documents from Stock: Library classification help in facilitating withdrawing of documents when need arises.
· Display of information Sources on Different Discipline at a Glance: With the coming /advent of ICTs we see the delivery of these services changing as it is now possible for remote libraries to access the huge database of big libraries in developed countries for the purpose of adopting their bibliographic data to their own library use. The online catalogues are transforming the landscape of information organization (Adeleke and Olorunsola, 2009).
Research have shown that at present, there are argument about the relevance of classification, cataloguing, indexing and abstracting stills in the organization of information in the global network environment (ICT era) as it is seen evidently that the research engines are fast replacing the library catalogues as better information retrieval tools. As opposed to the Okojie (2007) as cited by Imo and Igbo (2011) noted the obvious fact that classifications, cataloguing and indexing continues to be the critical point around which every other aspect of the profession (Librarianship) revolves. He further argues that “we must change our work pattern, we must move from a position where it is an industry”.
In another argument presented by Joint (2007) regarding the issue put forward by some professionals about the librarians failing when computers are succeeding, he viewed it as non sense, nothing that there are certain key components that remains in place in both traditional library and the digital library environment which in turn means that the profession (librarian) has evolved across the print digital era to deal with those constant ongoing features in today's changing, largely hybrid information environment.
As Lancaster (1997) advised that in order to justify its existence in the electronic world “the library must continue to perform one of the most important functions it now performs in the print or paper world which is to organize the universe of resources in such way that those most likely to be of value to the user community are made most accessible to this community physically and intellectual”.
The Challenges of Classifier in the 21st Century
The universe of subject is phenomenal and it is associated with a dynamic growth rate in the modern world today we see that new subjects in various forms are always cropping up with the increasing complexity of subjects. According to Kumal (1979), this has evidently created a tremendous problem for researchers as well as those dealing with organization of documents (classifiers). It then become very difficult a tasks to always initiate and incorporate new developments in knowledge to keep pace with the multi-dimensional nature of the universe of subject Providing access to voluminous information is evidently an intellectual problem that has historically been solved in the print environment by classification, indexing abstracting and cataloguing services with rules and procedures that will ensure consistency and accuracy. Graham (1995) advise that these tools adopted to suit new needs will work for electronic information as well. One important argument that must be made is that the profession (Librarianship ) is one which studies large texts, in whichever format, containing preserved knowledge with more interest in solving theoretical and practical problems of its organization and representation in systems for later retrieval and use on demand (Ingweser, 1992).
Another take on these problems was the one given by Memeney (2006) who advised that in the deliberation on librarianship in modern times, two distinct but vital areas need to be emphasized. He states them as:
· The reflection on the championing of best practices: the constant revisiting of what we do as professionals and why do them.
· To endure that our case values are continuously communicated to wider society.
The Role of Classifiers in 21st Century
The information age according to Imo (2007) has divided the work/role of information professionals into two creating access to and communication (dissemination) of information.
This variably implies that the library of the future should be able to structure its work force to create good access base for its user's right from its selection stage: it then means that even locally produced book, journals, thesis report, etc, should be sought for indexed, catalogued and classified properly according to international standard.
As classification schemes change, we must look at the roles they are expected to play, where they were once merely for search and finding, there is now navigation and dissemination of information resources via the web.
The roles of classifiers are deeply embedded in the functions a classification scheme serves in the library. There are three basic functions a classification scheme serves in the library. They include bibliotheca, bibliographical and cognitive.
The bibliotheca function is associated with the physical locations of resources within the library and so the classifier is thus saddled with the role known in modern terms as an “information architect”. Spancer (2010), posits that as an information architect, the classifier is saddled with the job of “figure what schemes works best for a library and its patrons, the content and the goals of the library.
Furthermore, included in the job description of the classifier is to understand the varying classification schemes available as well knowing when and how each of the schemes is applicable. Kumar (1998) further describes the classifier as the person who is often more concerned with the physical locations of resources in the library. This is classifier does by resort schemes such as the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme, the Universal Decimal Classification scheme and the library of Congress Classification Schemes.
The classifier will not only efficiently and effectively carry his/her job when conversant with the diversification in the forms of the resources in the library, the age of the material, user level, size of the collection and layout of the physical library space. That is the reasons why different types of library more often than not resort to the use of different schemes to arrange the resources. For instance most public libraries use the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme (DDCS), because they have diverse user with varying user's levels. And also, because DhcemCC is one of the most easy to remember classification scheme. It is used to carry both the highly educated and lowly educated in society.
The UDC and LCCs would normally be used in the academic libraries where the patronage is much more sophisticated information wise. In DCC, all basic subject areas are classified or organized using numbers. The entire universe of knowledge starts at 000 and end at 900. The main classes are each divided into ten. Where each division is further divided into ten, thus making a total of 1000 section in the division of knowledge, hierarchical relationships are known also.
The LC is essentially enumerative in nature, with the subjects divided into broad categories using alphabet A-Z, according to the Library of Congress (2011), there are twenty one basic classes, with each subject identity by a basis alphabet. There is a further division into subclasses which are represented by two or three letters. A particular feature of the LC is that when subjects are further broken down into topics, number ranging from one to four is added. They are further extended by decimal numbers
Other identifiable roles associated with classifiers in the global information network environment are:
· Exploit Technology Facilities for Information Network: Every professional in this modern age must continuously adapt itself to the rapidly evolving technological society. Keeping up with today's constant change and innovation as a challenging task but one must undertake it to operate successfully in the world. The proliferation of knowledge referred to as the “information explosion” and recently as the “information revolution” is affecting all professions, but none more than the libraries (classifier) as they are located at the centre of the blast (Chaudjharry, 2001). Chochrona N. (1994)on the other hand highlights the roles of classifiers in relation to the exploitation of technology as : adding class number to materials in digital form; linking subjects access system like LSCH and DDC though network :providing navigation and retrieval tools based on outlines of knowledge within classification schedules.
· Improve Presentation of Information Schedules, Including More Lead in Vocabulary, Understandable Notes Better Captions References and Indexed: As classifiers keep pace with the growth of knowledge brought by information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) they ensure continued review and updating of library classification scheme so as to improve and inculcate disciplines that are either new or broken to various discipline ( departmentalization).
· Extend the Use of Library Classification Scheme to the Internet: Another unique role of classifier is that they embrace the internet in their profession and classify this resources on internet according to subject/ discipline for easy retrieval by users.. In other words, they provide a means to access that information.
· Build bridges from the past (e.g. library collections classified with DDC, UDC, LLC) to the future (e.g. digitalized full text collections: Traditional, classifier provide intellectuals access to information through print-based resources. Burke (2001) noted that during the second half of the twentieth century the range of available resources expanded to include microform video and audio formats. The lasts decades of same witnessed a further explosion in format making libraries and by extension classifiers offer information in form of print audio, videos, numeric, computer programs or multimedia composites of each. For each classifiers, the most important issue is to provide the information in whatever form it is package using their numbers.
· To provide specialized instruction and assistance to both interpreting resources access to resources: Information retrieval is the most obvious skills a librarian demonstrates to his/her users. The increasing sophistication of search engine design is creating an environment where the user needs professional guidance particularly novice internet users who cannot retrieve all the relevant information.
In conclusion, the 21st century has witnessed an unprecedented paradigm shifts in the rendering of library and information services worldwide,
The ripple effect of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on every aspect of human endeavour remain colossal and its impact on library and information services has not been exclusive. The trend worldwide has proved that information provision and delivery has shifted from the traditional models to electronic and web based formats (Fadehan and Ali, 2010). Librarians (classifiers) are forced to focus more on the area of digital virtual or libraries without borders all of which have transformed library activities and led to change in library environment. The implication for libraries is to adjust and embrace the current trends for effective information delivery.
The classifiers has a role in the digital world as with print not just excluding access to rubbish, but in encouraging access paths to quality.
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