Envisioning a Multimedia Dewey Decimal Classification

Karen M. Drabenstott

Associate Professor, School of Information, University of Michigan

Tuesday, 13 April 1999

8:30-9:00 Coffee and Doughnuts
9:00-10:30 Presentation

OCLC Auditorium
6565 Frantz Road
Dublin, OH 43017

Librarians and library patrons are quite familiar with the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). We've searched public library collections classed in DDC to find books on a range of different subjects. DDC was probably the first classification that we used to classify library materials in library school. Perhaps we've used OCLC's NetFirst to find a web page of interest using a favorite classification number or the terminology of a DDC caption or note. All these ways of using the DDC enlist the DDC as a tool for subject searching, browsing, and display.

What does it mean to envision a multimedia DDC? What can multimedia add to the experience of using DDC to find library materials? Can multimedia make library searching fun and educational? Will imbuing DDC in multimedia forms and functions transform this familiar library tool into something rather different?

Professor Drabenstott charged students enrolled in a class on multimedia production with envisioning a multimedia DDC. In her oral presentation, Karen will give the results of this charge--she'll demonstrate student projects, describe how they extend our traditional notions of the DDC, and ask the audience to join a discussion of whether multimedia forms of a DDC are worthwhile to pursue.

Karen has conducted research in online database coverage, overlap, and redesign; patron use and searching of online databases and digital libraries; subject access to augmented MARC records; and descriptions of subject contents of visual materials. She has served as principal or co-principal investigator on research projects funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), OCLC, Department of Education, and National Science Foundation (NSF). She has published research findings in a variety of journals, monographs, and conference proceedings and is an active public speaker, traveling around the country and abroad to deliver presentations on the results of her many research projects. In summer 1998, the American Library Association recognized Karen's outstanding contribution to the field and awarded her its first Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology.

Karen joined the faculty of The University of Michigan in January 1987. From 1981 to 1986, she was research scientist in OCLC Research at OCLC. She received her B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and her M.L.S. and Ph.D. from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University.