KF Modified Committee 2005

18Dec2015 at 2:54 pm (History)

Hello all,

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.

KF Modified Committee 2005

KF Modified Committee 2005

All the best for the holidays and a healthy and productive new year to all!


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Judy Ginsberg on KF Modified

27Nov2015 at 11:26 am (History)

Judy Ginsberg, Librarian Emerita, York University

Judy Ginsberg, Librarian Emerita, York University

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.

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.

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The Manitoba-Windsor-York Co-Operative Classification & Cataloguing Scheme

1Sep2010 at 10:45 pm (History)

I’ve been working on a bibliography on legal classification for the last little while and I dug up this short document which outlines some of the rational behind KF Modified, or as it came to be known at the time, the Manitoba-Windsor-York Co-Operative Classification & Cataloguing Scheme. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it does it?

The document is dated May 1970 and provides a valuable historical context on the initial thinking that started what eventually became KF Modified. There is no author indicated, and I’d be curious to know if any reader out there recognizes this and knows who may have written it*.

Although it’s a very short document it provides some interesting tidbits. For example, the initial meeting was held at the University of Manitoba and was initiated by David Wilder the UofM librarian (a name I’m not familiar with) and the UofM law librarian, Shih Sheng Hu. An invitation to all Canadian law libraries resulted in a fairly large response including librarians attending from the universities of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Western Ontario, Sherbrooke, Ottawa, Windsor and York, and the Ontario Legislative library. Also in attendance was Jane Hammond, the law librarian from Villanova University in Pennsylvania, who had been using the KF classification in her library. It appears she was an important influence that led to the co-operative venture that was developed by Manitoba, Windsor and York.

This document also solved a little mystery for me as well. In addition to using the KF schedule the libraries opted to use the Los Angeles County Law Library Class K for foreign and comparative law. The L.A. County numbers where used with ‘XF’ rather then ‘KF’ with the idea being that these numbers would “eventually be reclassed into the L.C. K numbers” when they became available. The author noted that this would be “many years from now”. Many indeed, 40 years and counting in our shop! We’ve got about 500 titles classed in XF with another 700 classed in XG-XJ. At least I now know where they came from! 🙂

Worthwhile reading for anyone interested in placing KF Modified in historical perspective.

* My copy is a photocopy of the copy held at the Faculty of Information library at the University of Toronto. I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing this document and created a PDF version that I can share with you here. Unfortunately I didn’t copy all of the appendices so I’ll need to make another visit down to the Faculty of Information to get the rest of the text.

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KF Modified Origins: Legal Classification by Subject (3)

10Jan2010 at 12:16 pm (History) (, )

Another large subject area treated differently in KF Modified is the law of taxation. Tax law uses the Geographic Division as we’ve seen in other areas, but the range of numbers involved can be much larger than the usual span associated with G.D.s.

The original taxation number range in KF falls within KF6271-KF6558. KF Modified groups this into a number of different geographically divided subgroups, some with large range spans and some single numbers as follows:

  • KF6290 [KF6271-6290] Taxation. General
  • KF6297 [KF6296-6297.5] Tax saving. Tax planning
  • KF6298 [KF6298] Tax expenditures
  • KF6300 [KF6300] Tax administration and procedure. General
  • KF6334 [KF6301-6334] Tax administration and procedure. Specific aspects
  • KF6370 [KF6351-6370] Income tax. General
  • KF6499 [KF6374-6383] Income tax. Special aspects
  • KF6397 [KF6385-6397] Income tax. Deductions
  • KF6499 [KF6400-6499] Income tax. Other specific aspects
  • KF6558 [KF6525-6558] Property taxes. Taxation of capital

The thing that’s a bit different here is the size of some of these ranges involved. For example KF6499 [KF6400-6499]; that’s 100 numbers*. So if your classifying something on ‘corporate taxation’ you’ll consider using KF6455 but because it falls within the range KF6400-6499 you will classify it at KF6499 with the added G.D. The same would be true for the taxation of ‘foreign investments’ which is designated KF6419 in the schedule but will get a KF6499 number because it too falls within the 100 number range. The only time you will use these individual class numbers is if the resource you’re classifying is dealing with the law of U.S. taxation.

I’ll take a look at this a little more closely in upcoming posts when we start working through questions and some specific cataloguing situtations. If you have a classification question about something you’re working on let me know and we can work through here where others might benefit.

* Note that the actual number of classifcation numbers used in this range is less than 100

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KF Modified Origins: Legal Classification by Subject (2)

13Dec2009 at 6:58 pm (History) (, )

Some subject areas required a treatment different from that provided in the original KF draft and so some larger ‘modifications’ were made to the schedule to allow for a clearer expression of these subjects for all the common law jurisdictions. One of these areas was the classification of constitutional law.

American constitutional law is classified in KF at KF4501-KF5130 and these numbers are still used for U.S. constitutional law in KF Modified today. A new area for constitutional law in Canada was established at KF4481-KF4483 to accomodate the different characteristics of the Canadian and other jurisdicitions more closely influenced by English law.

Consitutional law for Canada is broken down into three broad areas: KF4481 for documents, sources, etc.; KF4482 for general works about constitutional law; and KF4483 for specific areas, for example civil and political rights or immigration and emigration. With the Canadian framework in place three additional class ranges where created that use this same structure for the jurisdictions of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (KF4485-4487), Australia (KF4488-4490) and New Zealand (KF4492-4494).

These three classification ranges are known as ‘class like’ ranges because each of these jurisdictions will be classed just like the KF4481-KF4483 range. For example, documents and sources for New Zealand will be found in KF4492 (the first number in the New Zealand range) and immigration law in Northern Ireland would fall in KF4487.I5 (the third number for Northern Ireland dealing with that specific topic and using I5 the subject cutter for immigration). The remaining common law jurisdictions are classed under the single number KF4496. Each of these smaller jurisdictions has their own country cutter code which is applied to KF4496. For example, Ghana (KF4496.G4) or South Africa (KF4496.S6).

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KF Modified Origins: Legal Classification by Subject (1)

2Dec2009 at 2:08 pm (History) (, , )

The Group of 5 decided to use the draft of the Library of Congress’s KF Classification for American federal law as the model to classify all common law jurisdictions. They preferred an arrangement that kept resources together in the common law subject areas. As Judy Ginsberg pointed out, this arrangement was “preferable, given the way the library is used in Canadian law schools.”[1] In other words, this decision reflected and supported the practice already at work in Canadian law libraries at the time. And this approach would also end up being the least disruptive when it came time to apply the classification to the existing collections in Canadian law libraries.

In addition to this basic philosophy of grouping resources by subject it was felt that some modifications were necessary to help control certain areas of a library’s collection. The primary modification made in the KF schedule was the addition of ‘Geographic Divisions’, also know as ‘G.D.s’, in selected subject areas. Generally speaking these G.D.s were used where the recognition of separate jurisdictions might be desirable (e.g. particular courts) or where the amount of published materials was expected to be extensive and a further subdivision was seen as a useful tool to refine the arrangement of things on the shelf (e.g. criminal law).

Each jurisdiction has been assigned its own G.D. cutter beginning with ‘Z’. So for example, Canada is ZA2, Ontario ZB3, Australia ZD2, etc. These G.D.s follow the main class number and will bring all of the materials together under the same G.D. For example, criminal law in Canada would be found at KF9220.ZA2 and in Australia at KF9220.ZD2.

You’ll find that most of the subject areas don’t use the G.D. and in these areas you will end up with the normal author/title ordering on the shelves. However, many smaller libraries, collecting mainly common law materials, have been known to apply the GD to subjects throughout the classification scheme. Nothing wrong with that as long as this suits the needs of your particular user group and a consistent policy is in place.

Responding in part to this practice and to requests from the KF Modified community the editorial committee introduced a number of optional G.D.s in 2005. This allowed an ‘official’ use of G.D.s in some additional areas, e.g. mining, copyright, patent law, trademarks, education and national defense/military law.

I’ll take a closer look at the application of G.D.s in some future posts.

[1] Ginsberg, Judy. “A Note on the KF Classification Modified for Use in Canadian Law Libraries” in Law Libraries in Canada (1988), p. 159.

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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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