FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ON THE ASCSA’S RECLASSIFICATION PROJECT
1. Why are the American School Libraries changing to the Library of Congress (LC) classification system?
2. What are the benefits of this change?
3. What other changes are planned for the libraries’ future operations?
4. How long will the reclassification take and how long will the libraries be closed?
5. Why do the libraries need to close?
6. What other libraries in Athens will be available during the completion of the project?
The American School’s three different and unrelated classification systems were developed long ago and can no longer be adapted and expanded to encompass current scholarship. The Blegen Library’s classification system, created in 1903, has evolved over the years to cover all its holdings. However, because it has no scheduled space for expansion in all areas, inserting new disciplines and expanding others has become difficult and time-consuming, and in some areas, the system cannot be adapted (for example, country divisions represent the political geography of the early 20th century).
The Gennadius Library uses an idiosyncratic system developed by Joannes Gennadius for his personal library before it was acquired by the ASCSA in 1926, which often cannot accommodate new acquisitions in current fields of research, especially when they fall outside Gennadius’ original holdings.
Finally, the Wiener Laboratory Library also uses a local system arranged by subject but with almost no consistency across sections.
The inefficiencies, mistakes and inconsistencies of three different systems that do not allow expansion to accommodate new trends in scholarship has necessitated our move to an international system that provides specific guidelines and flexibility.
• new classes/subclasses and new topics adapt to current trends in scholarship
• the system can be customized to suit our needs. There is no one way that books have to be classed, so that certain sections can continue to be grouped together regardless of the first call number assigned to the book.
All libraries will use one consistent international system, which, compared to the three out-of-date local schemes, will:
• provide more flexibility, as the libraries will have the option to customize and make their own decisions on classification according to the needs of their patrons.
• be more user-friendly, as the guidelines of the widely-used LC classification system are far simpler to explain to patrons and staff, who will no longer need to be initiated into the inconsistencies of the old classification systems.
• facilitate catalogers’ workflow, as they will devote less time in classifying and more time in building and fine-tuning the ASCSA catalog in order to improve discoverability for users.
Implementation of Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is already underway for the Libraries and Archives. RFID tags are being used instead of the barcoding familiar to most library users; since the ASCSA never barcoded its books, we are able to implement a far more technologically advanced solution. Books can be "read" by RFID scanners without opening the books, and multiple books can be identified at once.
• allows patrons to check out books online
• provides significantly better security than our current system
• facilitates the tracking of missing books,
• improves the inventorying process
• facilitates the Archives to create in-house user/collection statistics
RFID kiosks will be placed in the stacks in order to replace the old sign-out cards. Users will be able to check out their books electronically, and because the information will be available online, we anticipate users will be able to find books more easily and fewer will go missing.
The reclassification of the collections is a two-phase process. The first phase, which includes the data conversion, is expected to last 18 months and will be done remotely. Hence, it will have no impact on the patrons and their daily research. The second phase involves the actual shifting of the collections. According to the company’s estimate, the libraries will be closed from approximately January to June 2019.
It is important that every book and journal be processed as quickly as possible. Despite the inconvenience, the work will be completed without the backlogs and delays inevitable if the libraries were to stay open. We balanced closing the libraries against completing the work while the libraries remained open, and determined that users would be less inconvenienced by the six-month closure than by the much longer period needed if we were not to close.
All libraries of the foreign schools, research libraries (like that of the Archaeological Society of Athens), and the libraries of the University of Athens will be open and available to ASCSA members and patrons.
Stay up to date at: https://www.ascsa.edu.gr/research/blegen-library and https://www.ascsa.edu.gr/research/gennadius-library
Also on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BlegenLibrary/ and
Comments or additional questions? Contact Maria Tourna at: firstname.lastname@example.org