Dewey → Library of Congress Classification

The History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library (HPNL) and African American Studies Research Center (AASRC) are reclassifying their book collections, switching from Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) to Library of Congress Classification (LCC).

Classification systems determine how books are arranged on the shelf, and a classification number forms the basis of each book’s call number.

Librarians created classification schemes to support shelf browsing. Shelf browsing complements other forms of information discovery, like browsing subject headings in a library catalog, and performing keyword searches in digitized book collections. Subject heading and keyword searches require what the librarian Thomas Mann called “prior specification”, by which he means patrons must know the words that name their subjects before they can formulate an effective query. Classification schemes facilitate the discovery of books on related, but perhaps unknown, topics.

Classification schemes are also able to articulate subject relationships not easily captured by subject headings alone. For example, while DuPage County and Will County are widely separated in an alphabetical listing of subjects, a classification scheme can make them adjacent, so that books about the history of DuPage County sit on the shelf near books about Will County. Classification schemes thereby collocate books on two closely related subjects.

The DDC is a more abstract classification scheme than LCC: DDC attempts to describe the entire universe of knowledge, and is essentially a system of rules for building classification numbers that, in theory, can describe any knowledge record. LCC, in contrast, is more concrete: each LCC number literally describes a book in the Library of Congress’s collection. LCC is sometimes called a “mark it and park it” classification scheme! Librarians cannot create new numbers with LCC—all possible LCC numbers are listed in the LCC schedules, and for this reason the LCC is called an enumerative classification scheme. DDC on the other hand is an example of a synthetic classification scheme.

Although DDC is the most widely used classification scheme in the world, almost all major research libraries use LCC. By switching to LCC, the HPNL will make its collections more easily usable by scholars coming from other institutions, including new faculty and graduate students. Several other departmental libraries at the University of Illinois have already switched to LCC, and many of the newest books in the Main Stacks are classified in LCC.

For more on LCC at the University of Illinois Library, see the Library’s Guide to LCC.

Watch for this exciting change coming to the HPNL and AASRC!

New Collection: Advertising America

Digitized selections from the J. Walter Thompson Company Archives at Duke University. Although the archive has not been digitized in its entirety, the size of the digitized portion is nevertheless enormous. The J. Walter Thompson Company was one of the most important American advertising agencies of the twentieth century, and this digital collection documents its work in sixteen industries:

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Halloween Reads at the Library

It is that time of year again! The leaves are changing and the weather is dramatically fluctuating between warm and astonishingly cold as Fall tries to get its footing. The perfect time to curl up under a blanket and read something eerie. If you’re looking for a good non-fiction book to read in honor of Halloween then this is the list for you.

Here are a few of the books in our collection that are excellent for this season:

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Flash Newspapers: New Digital Collection

Flash newspapers were a type of “underground newspaper” that catered to people interested in reading about, or participating in, illicit activities, such as gambling, prostitution, and other forms of vice. Flash newspapers were often published and circulated secretly, so as to avoid detection by law-enforcement, and consequently these newspapers were  rarely collected by libraries. The best collection of flash newspapers in the United States is held by the American Antiquarian Society, and a large portion of that collection has now been digitized by Readex. The University of Illinois Library is pleased to announce that we have acquired this digital collection, American Underworld: The Flash Press.

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Latin American Newspapers Series 2

Now available: Latin American Newspapers Series 2. Part of the World Newspaper Archive (which also includes African Newspapers, and South Asian Newspapers), Latin American Newspapers Series 2 is the second module in what is arguably becoming the best digital collection of Central and South American newspapers available anywhere.

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Introduction to Scholarly Research: Pilot Instruction Series

Introduction to Scholarly Research is a multipart workshop series designed to assist undergraduate and graduate students with the research process, from start to finish. Join a team of librarians for this series of five workshops, during which you will learn how to become a more successful researcher. These sessions are open to students in any discipline. (Although taught by librarians from the Slavic Reference Service, the course content will not be specific to Slavic studies or any other discipline.) You will also learn how the University Library can support you in your research.

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The Mad Gasser of Mattoon

In September of 1944 the front pages of the Daily Illini were covered with updates about the ongoing war. The newspaper readily chronicled major developments in the war as well as the deaths of young men who, just a few short years before, had once walked the university’s halls. Given the amount of bloodshed that was unfolding around the world, it is easy to miss the newspapers’ coverage of one particularly strange event, one that would come to be called the Mad Gasser of Mattoon.

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Digitized Pittsburgh Newspapers

The Library now has permanent access to a collection of digitized Pittsburgh newspapers. Although the database is called ProQuest Historical Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the collection is actually a couple dozen different newspapers related to the Post-Gazette, which did not begin publication under that title until 1927. This collection boasts newspapers dating back to 1786.

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New Digitized Newspaper Collection: Historical Communist Newspapers

The Library now has permanent access to ProQuest Historical Communist Newspapers, a collection of nine labor, socialist, and communist newspapers published in the United States. All nine newspapers are connected to the Daily Worker (either preceding or succeeding titles).

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