By GAIL FINEBERG
Six years of negotiations within the Library and with outside libraries have produced two new classification schemes, giving libraries up-to-date tools for organizing and accessing materials relating to the law of nations and international relations.
For 87 years, from 1910 to this May 1, materials relating to these two subjects were grouped together under one general political science classification, called international law (JX). On May 1, the old JX classification was jettisoned and replaced by two new classifications, one for the law of nations (KZ) and a separate one for international relations (JZ).
The Library of Congress does not have the resources to reclassify all of its old JX materials -- some 80,000 titles -- but all new acquisitions are being classified according to the new schedules. Law schools at Yale, the University of California at Berkeley, Vanderbilt, Cornell, New York University and elsewhere are using the new LC schedules to reclassify their collections.
At a June 11 reception celebrating completion of this classification project begun in 1991, Law Librarian Rubens Medina said: "What [this] means to all of us involved in foreign and international law research is that, finally, significant items such as the decisions of the International Court of Justice, the foreign official gazettes and the constitutions of the world are placed in the Class K: Law. The anomaly that this type of material was housed in the general collections reflected the philosophy of the time, as the Library of Congress classification schedule was first created in the beginning of this century."
Mr. Medina noted that the collections classification work marks a "major accomplishment" of the Cataloging Policy and Support Office (CPSO) and the "dogged determination" of law classification specialist Jolande Goldberg, who has devoted her 30-year LC career to developing a Class K schedule and subject headings for law materials. Only one law category, theocratic law (KB), remains to be finished.
"In an exemplary way, Jolande has all along in the creation of Class K worked closely with us in the Law Library to ensure that her product would be just as useful as a reference tool as a working manual for the catalogers," Mr. Medina said.
Ms. Goldberg also led the cooperative effort to create the new KZ and JZ classes, practicing some "shuttle diplomacy" to achieve consensus among LC catalogers, reference librarians and Law Library staff, as well as outside law libraries and other research institutions that rely on LC classifications and subject headings to organize and access their materials.
In 1991, as Ms. Goldberg worked on her massive Class K project, she followed up on previous Subject Cataloging Division and Law Library discussions, dating to the early-1970s, about revising the JX schedule. She proposed pulling law-related materials out of the old JX international law/international relations classification and putting them into their own law subclass (KZ).
The alternative, she said, would be to revise the JX schedule with no attempt to separate "international relations" material, since from inception of JX, it was a subordinate set of "international law."
Either option had widespread ramifications, not only for LC but also for other libraries. At about the same time, during the early 1990s, political scientists were preparing a summary of Class J (political science) materials. "There was a growing suspicion that LC may be choosing to class works in the history classes (D-E-F) instead of political science," Ms. Goldberg said.
She explained that her proposed revision meant, for anyone reclassifying their collections, "a lot of material coming out of the JX collections. ... These are old and very large collections. Every research library has a very large JX collection."
To establish the rationale for change, Ms. Goldberg turned to LC's classification history to see how accurately LC's classification system (based on century-old policies) reflected 20th century developments in political science. Preparing a paper in 1992, Ms. Goldberg drew on LC histories as well as on her own shelflist and collection reviews. She noted that the first classification schedule to be published, in 1901, was for LC's most extensive collection, U.S. history and geography (Classes E-F), followed by history of the old world (Class D), and in 1910 by political science classes (J to JX).
In scope, these reflected the turn-of-the-century philosophy of learned men, including Librarians John Russell Young (1897-1899) and Herbert Putnam (1899-1939), who, Ms. Goldberg said, believed that history included a broad spectrum of subject matter. For example, Ms. Goldberg said, U.S. history Classes E-F "included boundary questions and treaties, both relating to the narrower subject of a state's territory and sovereignty; the recorded manifestations of U.S. westward expansion and territorial dominance over the Indian territories; works dealing with war and peace and the peace treaties as well; a whole regional development leading eventually to the formation of the Organization of American States, a subject belonging by definition to international law; and geography."
Said Ms. Goldberg: "Legal history was never recognized as a discipline per se but formed part of general history. Therefore, eminent historic-legal sources were classed in Class D.
In turn, "Classes J (political science) had absorbed official gazettes (a primary source of the law), legislative papers and texts of constitutions of the world together with constitutional history. In accord with the concept of the time and development of the science, international law was welded together with international relations; the schedule instructed the cataloger, in case of doubt, to prefer Classes D-F," Ms. Goldberg said in her paper.
The Law Library's Mark Strattner, legal collection development specialist, said the legal community "was never truly happy" with this traditional classification scheme. However, he said, because there was no classification system at all for legal materials 50 years ago, law librarians thought it was important to develop the Class K (law) system for countries of the world first and then a subclass (KZ) for law of nations.
Events after World War II made it ever more pressing to update the classification system. "The JX classification system became severely outdated with the changes in the law of nations over the last 50 years," Mr. Strattner said. "The law of the sea was nothing as complicated as it is now, and new bodies of law, such as the law of outer space and international regimes [defined by Ms. Goldberg as 'a treaty-based structure that contains intergovernmental organizations and subordinate administrative bodies, all of which have rule-making powers and the capability of creating secondary regimes'] -- such as the United Nations and the European Union -- have developed during the past 50 years."
"I think the law of nations is one of the most important legal areas now, as a result of a shrinking world and the interdependence of the world's nations on one another for trade and economies, the environment, which knows no national boundaries, and natural resources," Mr. Strattner said.
Political science specialist Paul Baker of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Division concurred that changes during the past 50 years also made it necessary to create a specific JZ class for international relations materials. "So much changed after World War II, not only national boundaries. Earlier, international relations was looked at as a phase of political science, but after World War II it developed into an independent discipline of study. ... Revision was definitely necessary."
Though there was longtime support in the legal community for the classification change, the challenge was to reconcile differences between the law and political science camps and not afflict the history collections. So there followed five years of diplomatic negotiations and meetings inside and outside the Library to promote the ideas and solicit support through the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and other law library constituencies, the American Library Association (ALA), the Research Libraries Group (RLG), the American Society for Information Science (ASIS), and other groups.
One of the first things Goldberg did at LC on the international law project was to decide on a thorough shelflist review of all JX holdings to see just how many titles would fall into a new class for law materials and how many fit logically into a political science class just for international relations. "We found that, to our surprise, about 50 percent was law and 50 percent was political science, i.e., international relations," Ms. Goldberg said.
In early 1994, the Advisory Committee on LC Foreign and International Law Classification and AALL constituencies supported a decision to develop the new KZ schedule for the law of nations and a companion JZ schedule for international relations.
The new JZ and KZ schedules were completed, as Mr. Medina noted, on Law Day, May 1. The K-KZ law classes include: official gazettes, comparative and uniform law (K); all domestic (national) law (K-KWX); and the global law of nations (KZ), including charters, treaties and customary international laws that govern the conduct of one nation with another. The J-JZ classes cover legislative and executive papers (J); political science (the state and political theory) in classes JA-JC; political institutions and administration (JN-JQ); and international relations and diplomacy (JZ). Institutions may classify their United Nations and European Community documents as either JZ, as the Library does, or KZ.
Said Mr. Strattner: "It really is a milestone that this rethinking of how to treat the law of nations in the LC classification system has been completed. This is why it was so important for the Law Library to celebrate the accomplishment of the Cataloging Policy and Support Office and particularly the achievement of Jolande Goldberg in completing this task."
Ms. Fineberg is editor of The Gazette, the Library's staff newspaper.