Using LCC (Library of Congress Classification) to Classify International Legal Materials: A Light-Hearted Series of Articles
Scene— your messy office. You're cataloging international legal materials. Below is a totally fake dialog between "You" and a ficticious character named "Help."
You: Help! I don't know much at all about a lot of this international law stuff we're acquiring for our library. Make it go away. I don't have time to read about the basics of international law, plus when I first did try to read it, it sounded like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.
Help: You can't make it go away, unless you get out of law libraries and work the graveyard shift at the corner gas and shop. Get a hold of yourself. Let's take this one step at a time. What are your problems? One at a time please.
You: Right now it's this book I must catalog now. It's a rush and there's nothing in OCLC so I have to do original cataloging. Maybe I can just not put in a call number and just do the descriptive and subject cataloging?
Help: That's not a good idea. You need to dig into the schedules to find the best call number you can, especially for your colleagues who'll be using your record after you add it to the database. What's your dilemma with this book?
You: It's a book on the U.N. Human Rights Committee. I can't find an entry in the KZ index. Isn't that where U.N. materials are now going to be classed?
Help: No. U.N. materials are going to be separated throughout LCC, principally by topic, like LC has always done. Always check the index first, like you did. You didn't find an entry in the index, so now look in the U.N. section in KZ. You're going to have to flip through some pages to find it. There simply aren't the resources at LC to provide an index entry in KZ or JZ for every U.N. committee and body. You'll find if just above Security Council on page 77.
You: Oh great; it instructs me to see K3241. I go there, but there's no such number! Now what do I do???
Help: Get a hold of yourself. It may be a typo in the schedules. They're new and not perfect, you know. You need to send an email to CSPO telling them of a potential problem. You still have to classify this book. Dig in!
You: I'm not sure. I guess I'll go with K3236.4—but this is about a United Nations committee, it's even published by The Committee!—how come I have to class it away from the other U.N. materials? Our U.N. professor is going to be confused how come we have some U.N. stuff in JX, some in K, some in JZ, and some in KZ!
Help: This is about a specialized topic U.N. committee, so probably its contents are about the subject matter with which the committee deals. So, you'll class by topic. Probably you'll want this to go into the K (Comparative and Int'l Uniform Law) schedules. With these new materials you are going to have to discuss these classification schemes with your Director and maybe your U.N. specialists and/or Reference Librarians. They need to understand what's happening with U.N. materials. You can decide to class them all in KZ, or all in JZ, or for topical materials that are emanating from the U.N. or are about the U.N., you can follow LC and class them with their topic, not classing them all as U.N. materials just because they are issued by the U.N. (archival-type classification). Whatever you decide, you must be consistent! Document your decisions in the schedules for those who come after you. Don't make decisions like this on your own. Teach your colleagues what's going on. Remember, any time you deviate from LC and you accept LC records in your copy cataloging operations, the books that you don't personally see at the point of cataloging may get classified in areas you don't want by another staff person who's part of the cataloging team.
You: Drat! Why isn't this like the good old days when we just had JX and KF?
Help: Stop whining and catalog. These changes are reflections of a more complex world. Get used to it. It'll get increasingly complex too.
You: Help, I've noticed KZ doesn't have much for human rights. Why not?
Help:You only will use KZ for wars and instances of armed conflict, prisoners of war, Geneva Convention things, protection of civilians during armed conflict, refugees during war, etc. Otherwise your human rights materials will probably go into K.
You: Are there any good, current books on international law, public and private that I can read and understand?
Help: Good question! Start with a book recently published by F.B. Rothman/Hein titled: Accidental Tourist on the New Frontier: An Introductory Guide to Global Research, edited by Jeanne Rehberg & Radu D. Popa. Focus on chapter 2 by Jolande E. Goldberg; and chapter 5 by Thomas H. Reynolds. Speaking of human rights, chapter 12 covers that topic, by Radu D. Popa.
You: What's happening with Dershem's schedules for KZ and JZ?
Help: The new KZ 1998 ed. is being proofed (as of this Nov. 13th writing) and will have entirely new contents. It should be available in December 1998 or January 1999. The J schedule, which includes the dead-JX and the new JZ, came out earlier this year and is available from Rothman/Hein publishers. Be sure to check out the catalogers' notes that have been appearing in the KF schedules and KF Index. These notes annotate the "true" schedules. The plan is for these annotations to be included for all the K class "Dershem" schedules.