EDUG statement to OCLC 2021

In the fall of 2020, the DDC Editorial Team was reduced to a staff of one. EDUG expressed concerns about this in a statement to OCLC, in which we asked OCLC to ensure that:  

  • the DDC remains continuously updated in terms of content and terminology. Indeed, the classification will only be attractive for further use if it is kept up-to-date and new topics are added. With the present international focus on cataloguing ethics, this includes the need to rectify long-standing instances of bias in the schedules and terminology as far and as quickly as possible. The DDC should ideally not only continue to have the robust editorial control that has been a hallmark of its success from the beginning, but also it should be seen to have that authority in order to maintain its position as a pre-eminent international standard.
  • the DDC Editorial Team provides outreach and support for translation teams and the international Dewey community. A translation of the DDC is an ongoing process and a huge investment. For its success, it is essential that editors are permanently available as contact persons for questions of any kind regarding the classification. This involves a very broad range of issues relating to classification with the DDC, DDC terminology and translation, format-related aspects, software development, and more. Dewey data is complex and subject to a variety of changes. An editor responsible for the English Dewey data must be available as a partner for technical questions about the data format (MARC fields, stub records, number building tool, etc.) to enable discussions of topics that concern all language versions, including Dewey applications like WebDewey. It is equally important to us that the editors maintain an overview of what is happening in DDC user countries. For this purpose, it should be ensured that the editors (preferably with the authority to make decisions) participate in international conferences and meetings where Dewey issues are discussed, for example, at the annual EDUG meetings.
  • OCLC cooperates with the international Dewey community in the pursuit of modern technical solutions to enhance the use of the DDC in multilingual and digital information retrieval tools. European national libraries and institutions using the DDC have long placed more emphasis on the system’s potential as a digital information retrieval system than on its capacity to provide the arrangement of physical books on shelves. As such, EDUG has become a forum for the discussion and promotion of technical solutions to improve the leverage of DDC numbers in retrieval systems and to provide DDC numbers in ever-increasing digital collections. Several of our members are institutions that have begun to convert bibliographic data to Linked Data in a move away from the MARC format towards entity-based formats like BIBFRAME. A new representation of the DDC in the form of Linked Data is sorely needed if Dewey is to remain viable in these new formats. We also have several member institutions that have begun to experiment with automatic DDC-classification using machine learning and AI. These and other technological developments involving the DDC have the potential to benefit the entire international Dewey community. We expect OCLC to partake in these discussions and to involve the community in decisions that could affect further technological developments.  

On January 21, 2021, EDUG office bearers Elise Conradi, Tina Mengel and Harriet Aagaard accompanied Ulrike Junger and Heidrun Alex of the German National Library, and Terrance Mann, chair of the UK DDC Forum, to a virtual meeting with Mary Sauer-Games, Eric van Lubeek and Marti Heyman of OCLC to discuss the concerns. During the meeting, OCLC reaffirmed their commitment to the maintenance and further development of DDC. They also outlined some of the ways they intend to redistribute editorial work, including continued outreach to the community and repositioning within OCLC to better draw upon existing expertise in vocabulary and ontology management. OCLC provided us with a summary of the meeting, which can be read in its entirety here .