Implementation of the new KF Modified Quebec civil law enhancement at the Department of Justice Canada Library in Ottawa

28Oct2011 at 2:45 pm (Cataloguing) (, )

This is a guest post from Alain Rochefort, Law Cataloguer at the Department of Justice Canada Library in Ottawa. Thanks for sharing your experience with us Alain!

Since the mid-seventies, the law book collection at the Department of Justice Library in Ottawa was organized according to an old edition of the LA County classification scheme, in conjunction with Library of Congress classes. By 2005, this unique in-house classification scheme which proved to be more and more difficult to maintain, was deemed outdated and inadequate by the library management. A few years went by, and following the request of Fiona McPherson, Director, Library Services, I was requested in my capacity as Law Cataloguer to come up with a new viable and alternative classification scheme to organize our law book collection.

After examining the options available to Canadian law libraries, I recommended that we adopt the KF Modified classification scheme in conjunction with LC classes as our alternative scheme. It must be noted that a similar classification system was already in place at the Supreme Court of Canada Library in Ottawa. Since our law book collection was comprised in large part with publications from Canadian and other common law jurisdictions (i.e. British, American, Australian, New Zealand publications), it seemed a natural choice.

In addition, given that our collection was also comprised of a large section of civil law documents, mostly from the province of Quebec, but also notably from France (and other civil law jurisdictions) as well as a substantial number of international law books, the LC classes were a perfect fit to complete this combined classification scheme.

The only inconvenience at the time was the fact that the KF Modified scheme only provided a small section to house the Quebec civil law section publications (e.g. general civil law books, civil law reform reports, and Quebec civil codes). This meant that all books on specific civil law aspects such as family law, property law, etc. had to be classed and shelved together with other common law books on these topics.

Needless to say, we realized early enough that our Civil Law Section lawyers would not accept this arrangement since they were used to having all the Quebec civil law materials classed and shelved together under the old LA County classification scheme. Initially, as a solution to this problem, I recommended that we derogate from the use of KF Modified scheme for these books and that we use LC’s KEQ sub-class instead to class and shelve all Quebec civil law documents. However, this option was not accepted by our local library management.

Since we wanted to keep all Quebec civil law publications in the KF Modified scheme along with all other Canadian materials, it was deemed preferable instead to modify and enhance the existing Quebec civil law classification provisions in the KF modified scheme. After meeting with F. Tim Knight, Head of the CALL KF Modified Classification Committee in Quebec City (at the IFLA Satellite Meeting on RDA), in August 2008, and discussing this matter with him, he referred me to consult H. Rashid, law librarian at the University of Toronto, and an experienced and longstanding KF Modified Editorial Committee member.

In the fall of 2008, Mr. Rashid and I started our work on the Quebec Civil law section enhancement. After a few options were discarded, we resumed the work in the spring of 2009, just as we, at the DOJ Library, were involved in a major reclassification project. In August 2009, we came up with the new Quebec Civil Law enhancement based on LC’s KEQ class (Quebec law). The new enhancement was accepted and approved officially by the CALL Committee, and by December 2009 it became an updated part of the KF Modified Classification scheme.

In September 2009, after obtaining the approval of our library management, I reclassified our Quebec civil law publications by using the new enhancement. Subsequently, in October, these books were all reprocessed as a part of our on-going reclassification project at the DOJ Library, in which we managed to reclassify our whole law book collection (approx. 14,500 titles). As a result, we were the first library to apply in its collection, the new Quebec Civil law enhancement of the KF Modified Classification scheme.

Two years have passed since then, and we can honestly say that we are very happy and satisfied with our new library classification arrangement. Once applied in a collection, the KF Modified Classification scheme is really advantageous in the sense that it allows staff and clients to search, retrieve and access the requested documents in a much quicker, economic and timely fashion (by subject instead of repeated searches by jurisdictions). And the fact that we were able to develop and enhance the Quebec Civil law section in the KF Modified scheme has proven how accommodating the system really is. It has allowed us at the DOJ Library to develop (amongst other things) our Quebec civil law collection (which is substantial enough), and at the same time, respect and maintain the jurisdictional integrity, unique terminology and specific character of the Quebec civil law. And all this by means of a classification system conceived as a common law library classification scheme from the start.

Alain Rochefort
Law Cataloguer
Department of Justice Canada
Ottawa, Ont.

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An Update on the 2nd & 3rd Quarter Updates

18Oct2011 at 2:09 pm (Updates) (, , )

It’s been a busy time these last few months with the highlight being the relocation from our temporary office space into the brand new Osgoode Hall Law School Library. Thanks to the able leadership of our Chief Law Librarian, Louis Mirando, we successfully corralled our collection(s), temporarily spread out over several locations, including an offsite storage facility, into our completely new library environment.

It’s truly a wonderful space and I hope if you’re in the neighborhood you can drop in for a visit. See the Dean of Osgoode, Lorne Sossin, talk about the new building in this short video. You’ll see some shots of the new library there, although the book stack end panels and some of the library furniture is missing in this footage.


This, amongst other professional commitments, has deflected me from my usually fairly timely KF Modified update schedule. And as a result the updates are tardy. But they have today been sent to the Canadian Association of Law Libraries headquarters and you should see them delivered to your desk(s) shortly.

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