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Dr. John Shaw Billings Classification Scheme No Longer Used at New York Public Library

Since the 1890s, the reference collection in the Rose Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Library has been arranged according to a unique scheme developed by the Research Libraries’ first director, Dr. John Shaw Billings, a physician who had directed the Library of the Surgeon General’s Office for 30 years and established the Index Medicus in 1879.

But library officials felt it was time for a change from a system used only by NYPL, and starting this summer they began converting the reference collection to the Library of Congress classification. “We have a history of a classification system that doesn’t make a lot of intuitive sense to the user community,” Research Libraries Director David S. Ferriero said in the August 17 New York Times.

For more information: http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/currentnews/newsarchive/2006abc/august2006a/nyplbillings.htm

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