Hello KF Modified enthusiasts!
We will soon be making our way to Vancouver for the annual Canadian Association of Law Libraries conference. The KF Modified Committee will be meeting on Sunday, May 16 at 1:00pm in the Seymour room at the Westin Bayshore Hotel.
I’ve prepared a draft agenda for your consideration, but please let me know if there is something you would like to add.
KF Modified Committee Agenda
- Succession Planning
- General lack of Committee members
- Future development and ongoing maintenance of KF Modified?
- KF Modified and Linked Data Project
- Report submitted to CALL/ACBD Committee to Promote Research
- KF Modified Electronically Accessible
- PDF version could be made available immediately
- Should KF Modified be made available open access and free of charge?; print subscriptions are declining and OA to classification is a public good
- International Promotion of KF Modified Classification
- KF Modified goes to Jamaica
- Promotion of KF Modified to common law libraries outside of Canada
- Other Business
See you in Vancouver!
I’ve been going through some old files as part of my year end back up/clean up me files process and discovered this photograph of the members of the KF Modified Committee. This was taken at the CALL/ACBD conference in 2005, St. John’s, Newfoundland. Pictured here are from L-R: Ann Marie Melvie, Janet Moss, Judy Ginsberg, F. Tim Knight and Rashid Humayun.
All the best for the holidays and a healthy and productive new year to all!
As many of you know, Judy Ginsberg, Librarian Emerita at York University, was a member of what I’ve called the “group of 5,” that is, the group of academic law librarians who came together at the University of Manitoba in 1968 and decided to modify the newly available Library of Congress KF classification for American law. That momentous decision made a major impact on the organization of Canadian law libraries and informs the work of Canadian law librarians to this day.
Judy was involved with KF Modified in one way or another for many years. She was the Chair of the, KF Classification Modified Users’ Group, a support group of sorts operating under the Canadian Association of Law Libraries. She was also Chair of the KF Editorial Board from 1982 until the mid-2000s. Judy ensured the long-term continuity of KF Modified when she successfully pitched the idea that the Canadian Association of Law Libraries take on the role as “institutional home” for the production and distribution of the classification schedule.
I am pleased to report today that Judy’s writings on KF Modified are now available via the Osgoode Digital Commons.
- Ginsberg, Judith. “A Note On The KF Classification Modified For Use In Canadian Law Libraries,” in Law Libraries in Canada: Essays to Honour Diana M. Priestly. Ed. Joan M. Fraser, Calgary : Carswell Legal Publications, Western Division, 1988: 59-61
- Ginsberg, Judy. “KF Classification Modified For Use In Canadian Law Libraries,” CALL Newsletter 13.5 (1988): 392-400
- Ginsberg, Judy. “The KF Canadian Adaptation,” 1987
These articles provide a wonderful window into the history and application of KF Modified by one of the original proponents of the classification. You’ll also find some of her additional papers on cataloguing, bibliographic utilities, legal research and a proposed national virtual academic law library.
The updates for the 2nd quarter of 2015 have been sent to CALL/ACBD headquarters and should be sent out to you sometime this week.
I am sad to report that Shih-Sheng Hu, who organized and led the development of KF Modified, passed away on Sunday at the age of 88. In the summer of 1968 Hu gathered together a group of 5 librarians to discuss issues surrounding the classification and organization of their law library collections. It was that meeting that led to the development of the KF Classification Modified for Use in Canadian Law Libraries.
There’s an obituary available with more about his life.
In the June issue of Technical Services Law Librarian Karen Wahl talks about Kristen M. Hallows‘ article called “It’s All Enumerative: Reconsidering Library of Congress Classification in U.S. Law Libraries” published in the Winter issue of the Law Library Journal.
In her review Wahl says:
The major thesis is that a subject classification scheme, rather than a jurisdictional classification scheme, may better support the needs of users because it will collocate related materials better, leading to better browsability for the patrons. It implies that the hyper-specificity of LCC makes this more difficult for a smaller law library.
The remainder of Wahl‘s comments provide support for her self proclaimed bias for the jurisdictional approach to law classification found in the Library of Congress Classification (LCC).
This reminds me of Philip Wesley‘s comment writing in the Law Library Journal in 1968:
… the decision is not which is the best classification, but which is the best system for a given library. Scholars have argued for years about the relative merits of one classification vis-a-vis another; and I think it is safe to say that the arguments concerning law classification will continue for many years, inconclusively.
I wonder then if KF Modified might be useful for the smaller American law library?
KF Modified is modelled on LCC’s KF classification and provides a browsable topical arrangement of the common law. Jurisdiction can also be specified in some topic areas using what is known as the Geographic Division (G.D.). For example, Canadian materials on domestic relations would be classed at KF505.ZA2 where ZA2 is the G.D. for Canada.
There has been no G.D. for American law in KF Modified instead the number is used on its own, i.e. KF505. However, a G.D. for each state could be easily devised. For example domestic law for New York state might end up something like, KF505.ZU33 where ZU33 is the GD for New York.
Wahl also points out practical time related reasons for sticking with LCC. I considered this in an article I wrote for the Canadian Law Library Review a few years back, “KF Modified and the Classification of Canadian Common Law.”
The irony here is that KF Modified can actually save time and money in law library cataloguing departments. It is much easier for cataloguers to consult only one schedule for all common law jurisdictions. The result is that cataloguers can really learn the system well, enabling them to make better and more consistent classification decisions. The cataloguer can focus on analysing the intellectual content, determining the main subject area, and applying a geographical division (GD) where appropriate. A few topical areas have been ‘modified’ to handle constitutional law, taxation, etc. and there are a handful of additional tables that can be applied to collocate bibliographic formats. That’s it. Consulting one classification schedule with one approach to information organization saves cataloguers’ time.
And more specifically on copy cataloguing and KF Modified:
… even if a cataloguer is faced with only a Class K number, it is a relatively simple task to convert this number to an equivalent KF Modified classification number. It is a simple matter to find the corresponding subject area and, if appropriate, add a geographic division (GD). For example, a book on family law in Ontario would use KEO213 in Class K; the corresponding topical area in KF Modified (something KF Modified cataloguers will know intuitively) is KF505; and the appropriate GD for Ontario, ZB3, is added to create KF505.ZB3. People familiar with KF Modified (including law library users) will know that Ontario family law will be found in KF505.ZB3. And, as an added bonus, they will also find grouped together in KF505 other resources on family law in England, Alberta, Nunavut, Queensland, etc., that they can also consult.”
With some slight additional modification KF Modified might be a suitable choice for the smaller American law library.
In a 2010 ‘digital white paper‘ released jointly by the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the Information Legal Technology Association (ILTA) there is a short article by Candace Fong (Royal Bank of Canada) who talks about moving from manual to online cataloguing processes to manage the RBC Law Group collection.
In this article she mentions her desire to have their library classified using KF Modified rather than the Dewey Decimal Classification:
“I also wanted to change the classification system from Dewey Decimal to KF Modified. Some of our Dewey Decimal call numbers were so lengthy that users would have difficulty remembering them, and it was very easy to shelve materials incorrectly. I did like the Dewey concept of grouping materials based on subject matter, but the classification system was not granular enough for a predominantly legal collection. Changing to KF Modified would make cataloging faster because we could replicate catalog information from the libraries of Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada and the Osgoode Hall Law School — both of which use KF Modified.”
Candace raises a couple of good points here:
- KF Modified is better suited to organize a “predominantly legal collection”; and,
- using KF Modified speeds up the process because cataloguing copy can often be derived from the Great Library, Law Society of Upper Canada and Osgoode Hall Law School Library.
Thanks to Candace for promoting KF Modified!
For a list of other libraries using KF Modified please see Links to Catalogues Using KF Modified.
The CALL/ACBD annual meeting in Winnipeg has come and gone and the KF Modified Committee business meeting was held on Sunday afternoon (May 25th). It was a small group which included Susan Jones (University of New Brunswick), Alicia Loo (Supreme Court of Canada), Humayun Rashid (University of Toronto), Sarah Sutherland (CanLII) and myself.
I apologize for not distributing the agenda before the meeting. You’ll find it below along with the notes and comments from the meeting.
If you have any thoughts on any of these agenda items please feel free to comment here are send me an email.
Have a good summer!
Just a short note to let you know that the KF Modified updates for the 3rd & 4th quarter are almost completed and I should have them done and off to CALL/ACBD by the end of the week.
In addition to the usual update these will include two enhancements to ‘Canadian Taxation’ and the ‘Law of Privacy.’ For more information on the KF Modified enhancement project see my post from earlier this month.
Feeling pretty warm in North York today at -7 C! :-)