Vol. 12 No. 4, October, 2007

Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Conceptions
of Library and Information Science—"Featuring the Future"

Arguments for 'the bibliographical paradigm'. Some thoughts inspired by the new English edition of the UDC

Birger Hjørland
Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen

Introduction. The term 'the bibliographic paradigm' is used in the literature of library and information science, but is a very seldom term and is almost always negatively described. This paper reconsiders this concept.
Method. The method is mainly 'analytical'. Empirical data concerning the current state of the UDC-classification system are also presented in order to illuminate the connection between theory and practice.
Analysis. The bibliographic paradigm is understood as a perspective in library and information science focusing on documents and information resources, their description, organization, mediation and use. This perspective is examined as one among other metatheories of library and information science and its philosophical assumptions and implications are outlined.
Results. The neglect and misunderstanding of 'the bibliographic paradigm' as well as the quality of the new UDC-classification indicate that both the metatheoretical discourses on library and information science and its concrete practice seem to be in a state of crisis.


It is important for library and information science (LIS) to find its identity and to develop visions about its own future. Recently have been many suggestions about what kind of perspective is most fruitful been put forward (cf. Bates, 2005). This paper is a defense of what may be termed 'the bibliographical paradigm'. It illuminates part of the history of this perspective and demonstrates a crisis, both on the theoretical levels and in relation to library practice, exemplified by the publication of a new UDC edition in 2005. In this way the paper attempts to show that core problems in library and information science have been neglected and are seriously in need of attention.

The bibliographical perspective

The bibliographical paradigm is not a metatheoretical perspective that is clearly visible in discourses on library and information science. One of the few arguments for it has been put forward by Stephen Paling:

"Bibliography provides a compelling vantage from which to study the interconnection of classification, rhetoric, and the making of knowledge. Bibliography, and the related activities of classification and retrieval, bears a direct relationship to textual studies and rhetoric. [ . . .]. A striking similarity to problems raised in rhetoric and which spring from common concerns and intellectual sources is demonstrated around Gadamer's notion of intellectual horizon. Classification takes place within a horizon of material conditions and social constraints that are best viewed through a hermeneutic or deconstructive lens, termed the "classificatory horizon." (Paling, 2004).

The modern1 , Western2 discourses of library and information science have mostly introduced perspectives focusing on users ("user oriented" and "cognitive approaches"), on technology ("systems oriented approaches"), on the library as institution ("the institutional approach") or on management perspectives (e.g., "information management"), while a bibliographical perspective focusing on documents and information resources, their description, organization, mediation and use is almost absent, although this is what the field is all about. The bibliographical paradigm is not, for example, mentioned among 13 metatheoretical perspectives introduced by Bates (2005), which is probably the most comprehensive overview of approaches to library and information science available today. It seems as if the term 'the bibliographical paradigm' has only been used negatively as a contrast of something better. In this context it has been suggested that it is a part of "the systems-oriented perspective" (or "physical paradigm") in library and information science, which, in the received view, is opposed to user-oriented paradigms. Why is this the case? One paper provides the following explanation:

"Kuhlthau notes that traditionally library and information services have focused on sources and technology and in doing so have developed sophisticated systems for collecting, organizing and retrieving sources and have applied information technology to provide extensive access to vast sources of information. [Kuhlthau (1991)]. User education has, therefore, concentrated on manipulative skills. This bibliographic paradigm has underplayed the cognitive aspects of the information process that highlight understanding and meaning. The challenge is not the acquiring of information but rather the rejection of the unnecessary and the manipulation of the essential. If TLs [teacher librarians] are isolated from the school's mainstream curriculum, it is likely that their input to the information process will remain largely at the manipulative level. The value of TLs' input into the process is greatly enhanced when they are also involved in the cognitive processes." (Henri & Hay, 1994).

Many things may be at play in this quote. The attitude that librarians, in particular teaching librarians, should involve themselves in the mainstream curriculum at the school, where they are working as librarians, is important, as is the view that the focus on technology (what may be termed "the systems driven paradigm") is superficial, simply not the kind of qualifications expected in a teaching situation about using information and documents for educational or scholarly purposes (although some technological knowledge also is important). However, it is difficult to understand why librarianship, documentation and information science is not about documents, their selecting, organizing and retrieval in relation to satisfying the needs of the users. Perhaps, what is meant in the quote above is that it is not enough to regard documents and information resources isolated from the needs of the users3. If, as Henri & Hay wrote above, librarians are too isolated from a school's mainstream curriculum, the most important sources to teach may be unknown to the librarian, why they may "fall back" on certain "sacred documents" considered universally relevant.

It would be very wrong, I believe, if library and information science-professionals "give up" the focus on documents and information resources because of the difficulties mentioned above. To focus on "user studies" or "cognitive studies" is not an alternative. However, it seems like this is, nevertheless, what often happens. According to Nahl (1996,2003) a "user-centered revolution" entered our field around 1970. The term "user-centered" is however very ambiguous when used about approaches to library and information science4. I do not believe that empirical studies of users can in any way substitute empirical studies of documents.

Another argument against the bibliographical paradigm is, that it "is based on certainty and order, whereas user's problems are characterized by uncertainty and confusion" (Kuhlthau, 1991: 361)5. My interpretation of this quote is that librarians have been too much occupied by rules and standards of bibliographic descriptions and too little in how those descriptions actually help the users. One may also interpret it as a critique of a dominating "positivist" ideology according to which a bibliographical description is a neutral tool that should meet objective standards rather than the needs of real users. However, the matter is that the study of documents is important, and that this may be labeled the bibliographic approach, that this cannot be replaced by user studies, why it needs to be discussed on is own terms.

The absence of the bibliographical perspective is also an absence of a humanist perspective on documents, genres and historical and cultural perspectives. It is interesting to notice that McKenzie suggests that bibliography is a discipline that studies the sociology of texts:

". . . bibliography is the discipline that studies texts as recorded forms, and the processes of their transmission, including their production and reception . . . I define 'text' to include verbal, visual, oral, and numeric data . . ." . (McKenzie, 1999: 12).

Whether library and information science investigates "users" or "systems" the dominating understanding has been "positivist", ahistorical and decontextualized. Users have been considered as biological beings more often that as cultural and specialized beings. Hermeneutical, historical and sociological perspectives may potentially be more fruitful. The bibliographical perspective is, as indicated in the quotes by Paling and McKenzie, naturally connected to such alternative epistemologies6. McKenzie's definition also emphases a possible connection between bibliography and bibliometrics. Bibliometrics is currently an important part of library and information science, and it seems natural to consider it as a (quantitative) part of the bibliographic perspective. Bibliometrics may contribute to the knowledge of the reception of works and further establish a connection to scientific communication and other sociological issues in library and information science. Bibliometrics may also benefit from more hermeneutical and sociological perspectives, and it is another argument for the bibliographical paradigm7 that it is able to integrate parts of existing research.

I will let Anders Ørom have the last word about this paradigm:

"The final question is: Which are the - possible and actual - theoretical advantages of a paradigm/view with the term 'document' as a key concept? In other words: which are the arguments for a document return, for a documentation science in the year 2006? Recent development in the field of library and information science (domain analysis and related views to different extents) criticizes the dominant theories and research traditions in the field for reductionism, for a narrow understanding of the object, for the exclusion - or simplification - of the semiotic aspect of documents, and for the exclusion of social and cultural perspectives. This critique can be related to the conceptual history of information. The meaning and (consequently also the) context of the concept has narrowed down to a neutral, almost de-contextualised entity. Domain analysis and related views aim in the opposite direction, i.e. the direction of the contextually extended and complex concept of the 'document'. In other words the discourses on 'document' have changed from more particular and restricted meanings to a multi-dimensional and integrated theoretical discourse. Document typology and knowledge organization are well-developed (sub)disciplines in actual library and information science, and these (sub)disciplines have their basic foundation in Otlet's 'documentation'. The 'document' is intimately related to organized collections of documents, and the 'document' is understood in a historical, sociological, and systematic context by Paul Otlet, the founding father of 'la documentation'" (Ørom, 2007: 70-71)

The Universal Decimal Classification in the bibliographical perspective

The Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) may be considered a sacred document within library and information science, and belonging to "the bibliographical paradigm". This section reflects parts of the history and status of UDC and the bibliographical perspective inspired by the publication of a new English edition (British Standards Institution, 2005).

The first edition of UDC was published more that 100 years ago (1905-1907). It was based on the Dewey Decimal Classification, but it was expanded in order to serve as the organizing system for a planned world bibliography of all documents (including articles).

Its fathers, Otlet and La Fontaine, are known as the founders of the documentation movement, which may be considered a bibliographical paradigm8. Thus UDC is an important remain from the documentalists tradition, which in some ways was opposed to the library tradition, although these two traditions also share important principles (demonstrated, for example, by the connection between the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) and the UDC). The documentalist movement was later transferred to Information Science, but in this transformation became the concepts of 'document' and 'bibliography' often substituted by the terms 'information', 'system' and 'user'. Today have the labels "information science" and "library and information science" almost totally replaced the label "documentation", although attempts to re-introduce it are visible in the literature9. The present paper should be seen as a part of this reintroduction of the concept of document as the core concept in library and information science.

UDC has played an important role as a classification system in research libraries in many countries around the world. It is still very much used around the world10. Some nations use the system in their national bibliographies. Why are systems like the UDC not forming part of a strong bibliographical paradigm within library and information science?

A first kind of crisis in relation to the UDC perhaps occurred with the so-called Cranfield studies of the late 1950s, which found that UDC (along with other similar systems based on "human indexing") did not contribute to improve information retrieval in electronic databases. These studies are very important in the tradition labelled "information science" (with "information retrieval" as an important sub-discipline). This conclusion from the Cranfield studies may be wrong (or at least be only a statistical generalization that neglects some kind of questions for which systems like UDC might be superior). It is said that the people responsible for UDC-classification in the Cranfield experiments felt that the experimental questions disqualified tasks for which the UDC might be superior. However, they never performed alternative experiments, and since then have classification researchers been rather invisible in, for example, bibliometric maps of library and information science (e.g. in the map provided by White & McCain, 1998). We may thus say that the UDC, like classification in general, has never been important in the part or tradition of our field named or derived from "information science" (which has mostly been interested in free text retrieval as opposed to any form of controlled vocabulary).11

In spite of this first crisis, the practical use of the system has so far not declined (and it has also implied some research and development activities on a small scale).

Another crisis for the UDC seems to have appeared in the 1980s and is related to the maintenance and further development of the system12. This crisis may be connected to a more general uncertainty in the library communities concerning the future role of knowledge organizing systems such as the UDC. The middle of the 1980s was the heydays of artificial intelligence. Concepts such as "intelligent agents" for individualized information retrieval were often thought to make traditional knowledge organizing systems superfluous. However, such theoretical issues have never received the deep scientific examination that they deserve. Researchers and practitioners have chosen some kind of systems based on some kinds of assumptions, without real comparison and investigation of those assumptions. Investment in the maintenance and development of knowledge organizing systems may have suffered without proper basis in research: The mere suspicion that this kind of systems could be obsolete was strongly demotivating for further investment of time, energy and intellectual efforts in constructing them. Also research itself may have suffered because many students and researchers within library and information science did not engage themselves in specific contributions to the improvement of such knowledge organizing systems. Instead they engaged themselves in other kinds of studies, some of which may be productive in the development of alternative kinds of knowledge organizing systems, while other kinds of studies simply seems to have lost their relation and relevance to library and information science.

It has been somewhat depressing to follow how the concrete interests and contributions to classification of subject literatures have declined within library and information science. An indication that this is the case is given below with some examples of the quality of the new edition of UDC.

The quality of the UDC today: some indications

This paper provides some preliminary indications concerning the quality of the UDC, hopefully enough to make more people interested in following up. It is simple to make lists of concepts used in a given domain and then check if the concepts are included in the index to UDC.

Let us consider some important concepts from library and information science:

None of these concepts is included in the index in the 2005 edition! I have not searched and selected atypical examples. I have just checked whether some of the most important concepts in library and information science are included or not. Each of them are core concepts with a huge literature, which cannot be overlooked by any serious effort. It is thus very critical, that they are not represented.15

I am not claiming that the way library and information science is covered by the UDC is typical for how other disciplines are covered. I am just illustrating that we cannot consider UDC as generally up-to date. Some fields like medicine have recently been updated, but as users of the system we need an indication in the introduction about which parts have been updated. Even if some fields have been updated, it is a serious problem to publish a universal system in which major disciplines are totally outdated. I have also examined a few important concepts from other disciplines. I have selected them from the Bliss Classification classes Philosophy, Psychology, and Social welfare16. The purpose is to examine whether the UDC-people have used the work made by Bliss.

In philosophy:

In psychology

In social welfare

None of those concepts are represented in the 2005 UDC. If we accept that these terms are important, then it tells us that the problem of updating UDC is not just about library and information science but may be much broader. It also indicates that the Bliss classification has probably not been used by the UDC-editors. One could hope that research and development in knowledge organization is a cumulative effort: that each new system benefits from former. Aitchison,(1986) described how the Bliss classification can be used to make a thesaurus. The same way one could imagine that the work made by some classification researchers would be reused in new systems. The examples above indicate, however, that this has not been the case in UDC.

The examples given could be extended to a systematic investigation by downloading titles from recent disciplines covered in, for example Web of Science and to check what amount of terms are actually represented in the index to UDC. For example, download all titles in "library and information science" from 2005 and check whether the terms appearing in titles also appear in UDC. This would provide an indication of how well a system such as UDC reflects today's research literature and could also be used to improve the system.18

My interpretation of these examples is that if they are representative and cannot be refused the publication of UDC 2005 is close to being an open scandal and exhibits a crisis within library and information science (although other systems probably perform much better). It is an additional problem if library and information science professionals do not know this, but continue to defend our 'sacred documents' without proper examination.

The dream of a cumulative effort

I believe, in the bottom of our hearts, many of us in library and information science have the dream to contribute to a large, cumulative project, a mapping of knowledge, providing better and better overview of knowledge and possibility to identify just the knowledge we need for a particular purpose. As put by Mills (2004: 547):

"The development of logically structured classifications covering the whole of knowledge is still unique in the field of library and information science. These provide detailed maps of knowledge to assist in the searching of stores of records and can be used as the basis of, or valuable supplements to, numerous other retrieval languages".

Such a dream of a cumulative project was UDC once (and perhaps still is for some people). It may have been based on some naïve premises (to be presented below), but still having an important kernel worth working for.

On the positive hand, we may, however, list:

Given these resources seems the indication of a crisis given above to be about management problems within the library community. Are the available resources put into different, fragmented projects without considering the overall goals?

Theoretical progress in knowledge organization

It is somewhat ironic than the most used tool for classification in libraries today is the DDC first published 1876. More that hundred years of research and the development of other kinds of knowledge organizing systems has not resulted in making DDC obsolete. For example, the BC2 is generally considered theoretically more advanced19, but has difficulties being used in practice. The main reason may be that most of the English-language books bought by a given library are pre-classified with the DDC by the Library of Congress. Another reason may be that they are not considered user-friendly because users have to learn certain principles. It is, however, thought provoking that classification systems developed later and generally thought more advanced are not able to compete efficiently.

Systems like UDC, DDC and Bliss may all be criticized for their "universalist" assumption, which may, for example, be described this way:

"While unitary documentary languages ensure a maximum of mutual understanding [. . .], they do so by legitimizing a particular ideological and sociopolitical worldview, and by silencing other meanings, voices, and ways of knowing [. . .]. Unitary documentary languages embody a belief in the existence of a unified body of knowledge. They express a belief in the possibility to capture reality isomorphically in "information," and presuppose a neutral ground from which to judge the truth-value of different theories." (Tuominen et al. 2003).

This point of view has often been felt by subject specialists, who have felt that it was better to make a system that satisfy their specific discipline than to use universal classification systems for all purposes (there are often competition between disciplines concerning topics and universal systems have to connect them within one discipline). The development of discipline specific thesauri and classification systems (and nowadays ontologies) for the use in subject bibliographies may be seen as a consequence of this insight20, 21. Although a similar problem exist at the disciplinary level (that different conceptions of the discipline co-exists and that knowledge organizing systems reflects one particular view at the expense of other views), is the problem significantly reduced in disciplinary systems compared with universal systems.

Any controlled vocabulary represents a 'prescriptive' or 'normative' knowledge organizing systems. The dominating theory within library and information science have been that such normative vocabularies represent "neutral", "objective" solutions that simply provide more efficient information systems. We may term this view a "positivist view22" and contrast it with a "pragmatic view" according to which any controlled vocabulary tends to favour some kinds of queries, while relatively making other kinds of queries more difficult to answer.

Let us consider a simple example of what controlled vocabulary typically does. Mills & Ball (2007) mention that the concept of "arts" is ambiguous, it is used both about visual arts (or just paintings), or it used broadly about visual art, music, literature. A book titled "French art" could be just about paintings, or it could include music and literature as well. In order to make it possible to search separately for both kinds of books, the BC2 has different classes for each of these meanings of the term "arts". Apparently this is simply a neutral logical improvement and this example tends to justify what we termed "the positivist view": That a controlled vocabulary simply improves retrievability in a neutral way. The pragmatic view has to demonstrate that such kinds of logical improvements are not always desirable, that some queries benefit from them, but other kinds of queries may suffer, and that it is necessary in the design of controlled vocabularies to consider what kind of queries the systems should give priority to.23

Without denying the usefulness of this distinction between two senses of "art", one may argue that the meaning of the word "art" is connected to theoretical views of art, which also implies cues on how to retrieve the literature that is relevant from a certain theoretical perspective (cf., Ørom, 2003): Semantic relations are theory-dependent. This insight is based on a theoretical view of semantics and has been discussed by Hjørland (2007). In the words of Fast; Leise & Steckel (2002):

"A controlled vocabulary is a way to insert an interpretive layer of semantics between the term entered by the user and the underlying database to better represent the original intention of the terms of the user24."

The question then is: From what perspective, with what kinds of justification, do library and information science-professionals provide such an interpretative layer? (Or, put differently: What qualifications are needed by information specialists to enable them to be able to produce an interpretative layer providing value adding to records?) One part of the answer might be that different groups use the word "art" in different ways. When literatures produced by those groups are merged, the words become homonymous. The information specialist, with an overview of these mixed meanings is in a position to make them univocal. Another part of the answer might be that the pragmatic understanding seeks the meaning of words not in the past, but in the future, what can be accomplished by the speaker by preferring one meaning for another. Any library or database is a part of an organization with a given purpose (whether explicated or not) and this purpose is the key to the justification of such an interpretative layer as done by controlled vocabularies. This insight, however, is just what makes the dream of a cumulative work like the UDC somewhat naïve: Different purposes and interests in different social systems need different kinds of classifications (this point of view is also emphasized about picture indexing by Kjellman, 2006).

One reaction to this insight may be a skeptical attitude towards all kinds of controlled vocabularies. Such skepticism exists among many information scientists (and may explain why they often favour systems based on "free text" and why classification researchers are absent in bibliographic maps of library and information science). Another reaction have been a tendency to develop many specific "information languages", which, as pointed out by Maniez (1997) tend to make interoperability worse, not better. It should be understood, however, that a given community, say chemists, develop a language suited to their communication. Chemical papers are supposed to use a kind of "controlled vocabulary" (terminology or "language for special purpose"). In a way they have already done a part of the work needed in order to "control the vocabulary". Information scientists should not develop quite another language. Their specific task is to increase the efficiency of information systems. The single researcher look at his paper, but the information specialist looks at the paper in the context of the other papers in a given database. If qualified, it is possible to add value, to add structure and semantic information to bibliographic records and to develop knowledge organizing systems that are supporting the activities done by the author producing the information. This activity is by principle a kind of meta-study of the domain, like for example, a historian would describe the development of a field, for example, relate concepts to different theories and traditions within a field.

I'll return to the dream of a cumulative effort, which at first may seem rather naïve in a post-Kuhnian perspective. The possibility of a cumulative effort is related to how "arbitrary" decisions of classifications are. If one system, say, UDC, makes an arbitrary decision to place subject X under subject Y, then there is no reason why other systems, say DDC should make use of the work done. If, on the other hand, the UDC based its decision on a mixture of empirical and theoretical considerations, and made good arguments for a specific solution, then there is a much better chance that such work can be reused for other purposes and that more cumulative results appeared. For example, it is my opinion that it can be argued that Bliss' classification of illusions as "perceptual processes" is well justified.

Let us consider literary history as an example. Such a history is always "subjective", it is always reflecting its author, its time and a certain world-view. It may be, for example, "traditional" or "feminist". In spite of this (or rather: because of this) it is considered valuable by many people25. Such a work on literary history in reality classifies the single books and labels them in ways, which are not usually parts of the books themselves (e.g. by genres such as "romanticism" or "magical realism"). Such labels are useful for some information needs, although not for all. A controlled vocabulary can do the same kind of job: Provide conceptual access to documents not already accessible in this way (and tools such as histories and controlled vocabularies may serve each other, they are both instruments for the study of fiction as well as products of such studies).

The conclusion of this section is that it is possible to add value to records by producing controlled vocabularies. Their bases are the terminology used in given domains. If such a work is of a high scholarly quality, it is not only useful for designing a specific knowledge organizing systems, but may contribute other knowledge organizing systems as well (as well as other purposes). For library and information science to be an important partner must such studies be parts of our research literature and used when designing, evaluating, and modifying knowledge organizing systems.


It is important to reconsider "the bibliographical paradigm" in library and information science. Studies of literatures cannot be substituted by, for example, studies of users. Some of the criticisms raised against this view may be related to problematic philosophical premises. The bibliographical paradigm does not necessarily imply a positivist description of documents, but may imply a consideration of what documents can do, and how library and information science can support documents in doing important tasks, i.e. a critical and pragmatic perspective.


I thank Tove Faber Frandsen and Matz Dahlström for valuable comments on the manuscript.


1. Around 1900 bibliography was considered a field related to documentation. Paul Otlet (1903), for example, used the concept "Science of Bibliography" and departments of bibliography existed in different places of the world, e.g. Department of Bibliography at Tartu University in Estonia was founded in 1944 (in which a general course in bibliography was mandatory for all students in history and philology). This institution later changed its name to Department of Librarianship and in 1993 to Department of Information Studies at the faculty for social science at the Educational University of Tallinn. A similar development took place in South Africa where Department of Librarianship and Bibliography changed to Department of Library Science (cf., Dick, 2002). A recent example of research in bibliography is Svend Bruhns (2004) work about the history of bibliography in Denmark in the 1700s and 1800s (in Danish).

2. On the status of bibliography as theoretical and disciplinary concept in Eastern Europe write Elena Maceviciute and Osvalda Janonis: "The word 'bibliography' is usually associated with the rather tedious job of creating bibliographical citations, cataloguing, building national bibliographical databases or, in the case of historical bibliography, working with dusty volumes. Very few in the West will relate to bibliography as an intellectual challenging, advanced and modern discipline with a high theoretical level that brings revolutionary change (a paradigmatic shift) to a whole range of information-related disciplines. However, this is how bibliography, or rather the theory of bibliography, has been perceived by many researchers and professionals in Eastern Europe since the middle of the 1970s. It still holds this image in Russia and neighbouring countries, although it is relatively unknown outside the region." (Maceviciute & Janonis, 2004, s 30).

3. Often people in library and information science express an attitude that they regard some kind of documents, for example, National Bibliographies and Classification systems like UDC or DDC as the sacred writings of librarianship. This may be a kind of professional ideology which is not always well founded. In a given context, e.g. when students of library and information science write papers, may such systems play a very little role in their information provision. They may simply be irrelevant to teach in a given context.

4. All serious approaches try to contribute good solutions for the users, why user-centered approaches should be understood in a special way as, for example, mainly based on empirical data achieved from users. If information professionals are expected to be professionals in guiding users about information sources, it seems to be a paradox that they try to get their knowledge from what must in this connection logically be regarded the amateurs. Researchers are not, of course, amateurs in relation to selecting information for their own research. On the other hand: What is the professionalism of library and information science, if not connected to information searching and -retrieval? Hjørland, (1997) tried to solve this paradox by suggesting that end-users are using a bottom-up strategy, while library and information science-professionals are applying a top-down approach which is a supplement to the researchers' search competencies. A traditional way to cope with this paradox is to suggest that the researcher's knowledge is about meaning and semantics in retrieval, while library and information science-professionals knowledge is about technical, formal or syntactic aspects. This is not, however, a tenable solution: Each "syntactic" choice has implications about what is retrieved and cannot be isolated from aspects involving meaning. Alternatives to user studies might be better, for example, produce, study and interpret bibliometric maps. The most cited sources may not be regarded the most authoritative and valuable, but the process of investigation this may qualify the information professional much better to advice users about how to seek information. "

5. Kuhlthaus view is discussed by Parus (1996) and Dahlström & Gunnarsson (2000).

6. Mats Dahlström (personal communication) has opinioned that there exist two different kinds of studies of bibliography: One is "material" and study documents as technological artifacts, and provides a social, historical and contextual perspective; the other is "reference bibliography" which Dahlström associates with an absolutist, positivist, ahistorical and decontextualized perspective. I believe, however, that it is possible to consider reference bibliography from a non-positivist perspective, cf. Ørom (2007). Dahlström is correct in his view of the tradition of reference bibliography as he see it, but the bibliographic paradigm, which I am arguing for, may represent an alternative to this tradition. I define the bibliographical perspective relative to other contemporary perspectives as focusing on documents and information resources, their description, organization, mediation and use. A deeper discussion of this issue is beyond the limits of this paper.

7. Mats Dahlström (personal communication) has also opinioned that a bibliographical paradigm does not exists and that "bibliography" does not represent a metatheoretical perspective. However, what this paper argues is exactly that such perspective is needed. This paper is trying to establish a theoretical perspective, which is rooted in documentation practice rather than defending an existing "bibliographic paradigm". It is difficult to answer Dahlström more precisely because he has not outlined his own overall view of library and information science, why his points of view concerning a perspective for library and information science cannot be examined.

8. Otlet and La Fontaine established such institutions as "International Féderation for Information and Documentation" (FID; originally: The International Institute of Bibliography, founded in 1895). The documentation movement gave rise to institutions such as "American Documentation Institute" (now: American Society for Information Science and Technology) and "Journal of Documentation".

9. Among the attempts to reintroduce the document concept as the core concept in library and information science may be mentioned "The Document Academy" (http://thedocumentacademy.org/) as well as papers such as Bruhns (2004), Buckland (1991), Dahlström (2006), Dahlström & Gunnarsson (2000), Frohmann (2004), Furner (2004), Hjørland (2000), Kjellman (2006),Lund (2004) and Ørom (2007).

10. See: http://www.udcc.org/about.htm

11.Although "information science" as a tradition gave rise to the information retrieval thesaurus, which is the exception that confirms the rule about the priority of free-text-retrieval in information science.

12. It may also be related to the fact that FID was dissolved 2002 and that other parts of the organization encountered a crisis. The Danish UDC organization, for example, was also reorganized in 1992 and dissolved in 1999.

13. 'Knowledge representation' is included (004.82) but is another field.

14.'Retrieval languages' is included (025.4). Books about "information retrieval" are in The Royal School of Library and Information Science in Denmark classified "025.3/.4 025.3", which is a very general placement. The fact that books about information retrieval can be classified is of course no excuse for not including this concept in the index.

15. Libraries using the UDC are, of course, classifying books on these subjects. For instance the library at the RSLIS in Copenhagen. Evidently, however, they do not cooperate on improving the classification system, if they do, then only for internal use. This lack of cooperation in maintaining the tools of librarianship seems problematic.

16. Bliss. Bibliographical Classification 2nd ed. has been published since 1977, cf. Mills & Broughton, 1977; The latest volume, the classification of the Arts, was published this year (Mills & Ball, 2007).

17. In Bliss correctly classified as "perceptual processes", UDC only as "mental disorders" and as "parapsychology", which are not the core fields for research in illusions.

18. Such a procedure should be a banality in the designing of classification systems.

19. "Bliss Bibliographic Classification (BC2) is an internationally accepted detailed general classification which is based on clear and comprehensive principles for both its overall structure (main-class order) and the internal structure of each and every class. The former is based on the theory of integrative levels first advanced by Comte. The second is based on the revolutionary theory of facetted classification developed by Ranganathan and elaborated by the CRG - (British) Classification Research Group. Each class provides an unrivalled map of the detailed relations between the concepts in the subject, which may be used for the classification of a library and its catalogues, as an aid in searching automated files or as a valuable educational instrument in the subject." (Mills & Ball, 2007, back cover).

20. Many of the "universal" systems, for example Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and the BC2 may, by the way, be seen as a series of subject schemes rather than as a typical universal classification such as DDC.

21. Discipline specific classifications are less discussed in the literature of library and information science compared to universal systems. There may be a misunderstood feeling that two different kind of knowledge are needed, that subject knowledge can better be done without in universal classifications. However, this is wrong: Also in universal systems is subject knowledge needed in order to classify properly. The principles in universal classifications and discipline classifications are basically the same. When Mills (2004: 547) writes "The development of logically structured classifications covering the whole of knowledge is still unique in the field of library and information science" he is in my opinion mistaken by making "the whole of knowledge" a criterion of a specific library and information science method.

22. Concerning this use of the concepts "positivism" and "pragmatism" see Hjørland & Nissen Pedersen (2005).

23. This may imply the questioning of the "univocity ideal", cf., Temmerman, 1997, who claim that polysemy is sometime functional.

24. To "better represent the original intention of the terms of the user" presupposes that the user know about the different meanings and know which one he needs. An important purpose of knowledge organizing systems is, however, to display the different meanings for the user, thus enabling him to decide which ones to investigate.

25. And different literary histories may be seen as more or less qualified, original and valuable: There exists criteria on which they are evaluated, although they too are subjective.

How to cite this paper

Hjørland, B. (2007). "Arguments for 'the bibliographical paradigm'. Some thoughts inspired by the new English edition of the UDC" Information Research, 12(4) paper colis06. [Available at http://InformationR.net/ir/12-4/colis/colis06.html]
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