Criticism of Expansive Classification

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The Expansive Classification has been adopted by comparatively few libraries, mostly in New England.[cn] It did not catch on as did Dewey's system because Cutter died before it was completely finished, making no provision for the kind of development necessary as the bounds of knowledge expanded and scholarly emphases changed throughout the 20th century[cn].

Expansive Classification: Part I: the First Six Classifications, by C.A. Cutter is inconsistent. Pages 2 and 17 give different lists of the classification for the smallest libraries.

Page 2, under the heading Introduction for the smallest library, has the following:

  • A Works of reference and general works which include several of the following sections, and so could not go in any one.
  • B Philosophy and Religion
  • E Biography
  • F History and Geography and Travels
  • H Social sciences
  • L Natural sciences and Arts
  • Y Language and Literature
  • YF Fiction

Page 17, on the other hand, under the heading First classification, for a very small library, has this:

  • A Works of reference and works of a general character covering several classes Includes such works as are usually kept in the Delivery Room or the Reading Room for the free use of the public, such as the best dictionaries of languages and other subjects; encyclopaedias, both general and special, handbooks of dates, dictionaries of biography and peerages, gazetteers, manuals of statistics, books of quotations, concordances, etc.-
  • B Philosophy and Religion Includes Moral philosophy.
  • E Historical sciences Includes Biography, History, and Geography and Travels.
  • H Social sciences Includes Statistics, Political Economy, Commerce, the Poor, Charity, Education, Peace, Temperance, the Woman question, Politics, Government, Crime, Legislation, Law.
  • L Sciences and Arts, both Useful and Fine
  • X Language-
  • Y Literature Includes Literary history. Bibliography, and the arts that have to do with books.
  • YF Fiction

Thus page 2 has a separate class for biography, which is subsumed under Historical Sciences on page 17, while Language and Literature are a single class on page 2 but two separate classes on page 17.

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