DDC Editor-in-Chief Joan Mitchell on the new Abridged 15
Andy Havens, OCLC Coop Blog Editor: What are the main differences between the unabridged, 23rd print edition of the DDC, and Abridged Edition 15?
Joan Mitchell: Abridged Edition 15 is a logical abridgment of DDC 23. It features the same content and structural changes as found in DDC 23 within the context of the abridged notational framework. The abridgment is based on the current DDC 23 data file as of January 2012--in that sense, some Abridged Edition 15 classes are slightly more up-to-date than corresponding classes in the print version of DDC 23. For example, the geographic area represented by T2--629 is listed as the new country of "South Sudan" in Abridged Edition 15; in the print version of DDC 23, it is listed as "Southern states of Sudan" (of course, the updated version of the DDC 23 data file in WebDewey also has the new caption).
Andy: Is there anything special about this edition in particular?
Joan: Andy, I'm so glad that you asked that question, because we used a new process to produce Abridged Edition 15. We began with the current classes in Abridged Edition 14, amended to reflect changes in DDC 23, as the starting point for the Abridged Edition 15 notational framework. We then expanded the notational framework in a few areas identified as useful in an abridged context. Once we had the notational framework for Abridged Edition 15 in place, we derived the content of Abridged Edition 15 from the underlying DDC 23 database applying a set of algorithms with minimal intellectual intervention. The end result is an abridged edition that has a much clearer relationship between its content and that of its full edition counterpart. We also expanded the Manual and Relative Index in Abridged Edition 15--the latter is thirty pages longer than the one found in the print version of Abridged Edition 14.
Andy: Is the abridged edition updated as often or more often than the unabridged?
Joan: It has been our practice to publish a new print abridged edition the year following the publication of a new print full edition. In a sense, the abridged edition is always updated at the same time as the full edition since it is a logical abridgment of the latter. However, some updates may not be visible in the abridged edition. For example, we recently added "Including copernicium" (for the recently discovered element of the same name) to 546.66 Group 12 in DDC 23--since 546 Inorganic chemistry is not further subdivided in Abridged Edition 15, that update didn't appear explicitly in Abridged Edition 15, but is there implicitly.
Andy: How many libraries use the abridged vs. the unabridged?
Joan: We don't have reliable statistics on the split between usage of the full and abridged editions. We know that the total number of print copies of Abridged Edition 14 sold nearly matched the number of print sets of DDC 22 sold; however, the web version of Abridged Edition 14 had less than 10% of the number of subscribers to the web version of DDC 22. On the other hand, Abridged Edition 14 was translated into one more language than DDC 22.
Andy: Which version makes the most sense for which libraries?
Joan: It really depends on the size of collection you are trying to organize. The abridged edition is best for general collections of 20,000 titles or fewer. Sometimes, libraries use the abridged edition as a companion for a specialized collection organized by the full edition. For example, religious libraries often purchase a copy of the abridged edition with the soon-to-be-published 200 Religion Class, an updated extract from DDC 23 that is intended to be used by libraries with in-depth religious collections and small general collections.
Andy: Any plans for the future of Dewey you'd like to let us in on?
Joan: We're working on two exciting innovations for WebDewey right now. The first is directly related to Abridged Edition 15. We are working on an "abridged edition view" within WebDewey that will support assignment of numbers from Abridged Edition 15 and serve as a migration path for current Abridged WebDewey subscribers. We are also working on a number building / user contribution module in WebDewey that will offer automated assistance for number building and also provide a path for user contribution of synthesized numbers and suggested index terms to the worldwide Dewey community. Stay tuned for more news on both developments over the next few months!
Andy: Thanks, Joan. We appreciate you taking the time to fill us in on the details of the new abridged edition.
Joan: Glad to do so.
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