KF Modified Origins: The Group of 5

13Oct2009 at 4:22 pm (History)

In the late 1960s the legal publishing industry was maturing and the number of new publications was growing significantly.  Collections in Canadian law libraries were quickly outgrowing the local systems they had in place to organize their collections and a formal classification scheme began to look more and more appealing.

A small group of academic law librarians, led by Shih-Sheng Hu, from the University of Manitoba Law Library, met in the summer of 1968 to discuss their options.  The others present were Roger Jacobs (University of Windsor Law Library), Balfour Halevy, Diana Priestly and Judy Ginsberg (all from the York University Law Library).  For years there had been a good deal of discussion in the professional literature weighing the merits of classifying legal collections.  This group, eager to bring greater control to their growing collections, were clearly in favour of classification and decided to take a look at the recently prepared draft of the Library of Congress’s KF Classification for American federal law.

The Library of Congress had just begun to develop classification schedules for law in 1967 and this draft of the KF Classification, “designed to be a model for all common law jurisdictions”[1], was a promising candidate.  The group of 5 began to explore how they could apply this template to the common law jurisdictions they had been collecting.

[1] Goldberg, Jolande E.  Development of a Universal Law Classification: A Retrospective on Library of Congress Class K, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 3/4, 2003, p. 357.

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