Summary Conference on application of Dewey Decimal Classification, Vietnamese Edition 23 in Viet Nam’s libraries (2014 - 2019)

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Implementing Decision No. 3319 / QD-BVHTTDL dated September 30, 2019 of the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, from 1st to 2nd November, 2019, in Da Nang City, the National Library of Viet Nam (NLV) organized a “Summary Conference on application of the Dewey Decimal Classification, Vietnamese Edition 23 in Viet Nam’s libraries in period 2014 - 2019”.

Attending the conference were Ms. Vu Duong Thuy Nga - Director of the Library Department; Ms. Kieu Thuy Nga - Director of the National Library of Viet Nam; Mr. Le Hai Dang - Deputy Director of the Institute of Social Sciences Information; Mr. Huynh Van Hung - Director of Da Nang Department of Culture and Sports; Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoi An - Deputy Director of Da Nang Department of Culture and Sports; Mr. Duong Hong Co - Deputy Director of Bac Giang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism; representatives of leaders and technical officials of city/provincial libraries, special libraries, university libraries, and training institutions of Library and Information Sciences throughout the country.

Classification of materials is always considered as a key technical process in the operation of the libraries. It helps create languages for searching classified information, can fully and accurately reflect contents of materials according to each field of knowledge, actively contributes to the introduction and dissemination of materials to readers. While classifying materials, the use of a classification scheme must meet the criteria of a scientific, universal, flexible and modern tool, be effective in classifying materials, and at the same time, bring practical benefits for information exchange and international integration of the libraries.

Since 2001, with the goals of integration and development, NLV as the leading library in developing and applying new professional standards has officially proposed using the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) in classifying materials. After the abridged DDC 14 being translated into Vietnamese and released in 2006, in August 2010, NLV had an agreement with OCLC, the copyright holder of the Dewey Decimal Classification - to translate the full edition of DDC from English into Vietnamese. In May 2011, DDC 23 had been released in the United States and issued overseas in July 2011. In August 2011, NLV received the whole volumes of DDC 23 – English version and started to translate it into Vietnamese. On November 29, 2013, NLV organized a ceremony to announce the Dewey DecimalClassification, Vietnamese Edition 23 – DDC 23 for application in libraries and information agencies in Viet Nam with the view to ensure the consistency in classifying of library materials. Shortly after the ceremony, NLV organized a training course for 62 trainers representating major libraries, information centers, special libraries, and training institutions of library sciences throughout the country. In 2014, NLV organized training courses on using of DDC 23 in three regions of the country: the North, the Central and the South. Since then, libraries throughout the country have gradually shifted to use DDC 23 instead of other classification schemes. After 5 years of implementation, libraries have initially achieved important results.

With the spirit of seriousness, accountability, democracy and science, 12 papers have been presented, toghether with 2 introductions of Technology Companies and exchange ideas of delegates, the conference has focused on discussing and sharing the following contents: Summarizing and evaluating the implementation situation and results of applying DDC 23 in Viet Nam’s libraries; Advantages and disadvantages of the process applying DDC 23; Lessons learned from the process of applying DDC 23 from 2014-2019; Thereby, suggest solutions and recommendations to improve the quality and efficiency of classification activity in the future.

From 2014 to 2019, the Vietnamese library system has got many important achievements in the application of DDC 23 such as the followings:

- The application of DDC 23 has contributed greatly in standardizing professional activities and promoting the integration process of Vietnamese libraries into the world library community.

- Vietnamese library system has had high agreement on the policy of applying DDC 23 in the library activities. These libraries have actively applied DDC 23 in almost all technical activities. So far, most libraries have used DDC 23. Those have not used have planned to apply DDC in the next 5 years.

- Many training courses on using DDC 23 have been organized, training a considerable number of librarians who can understand, grasp and use DDC 23 in classification and organize professional activities. The training of trainers course organized by the NLV has trained qualified librarians who are knowledgeable about DDC 23 and can use the knowledge learned to train librarians in their system.

- So far, DDC 23 is the most updated and complete library classification scheme, has overcome a number of limitations of the Abridged DDC 14. Vietnamese library system has had the latest classification tool, which has enough respective notations to classify materials on new sciences and technology fields, as well as materials on changes in geography, politics, history of the world in general and of Viet Nam in particular.

- The use of a common classification scheme facilitates the exchange, sharing and exploitation of information between libraries, thus, it helps save the time for cataloguing and classifying materials by using the results of catalog in publication.

- DDC 23 is convenient for organization and arrangement of library collections as well as helps organize and locate materials conveniently and quickly.

- Not only being applied in practice, DDC 23 has also been included in the curriculum at training institutions to equip students with general knowledge about classifying materials with this classification scheme.

Besides the achievements, the Conference has also identified the remaining limitations as follows:

- The legal documents on application of DDC of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism are only recommendations, not mandatory for the application of common professional standards throughout the library system.

- Many different classification schemes are still in use in the national library system such as: DDC 23, DDC 14, BBK, LCC, 19 classes, NLM etc. making it difficult for technical exchanges and information sharing between libraries.

- The conversion of using DDC 23 in the public library system is not comprehensive, some libraries still use DDC 14.

- Many libraries implemented the application of DDC 23 slowly or do not apply DDC, mainly in special library and multidisciplinary library systems, even including large special libraries.

- The process of shifting to use DDC 23 of the university libraries in the North is not as fast as those in the Southern region.

- There are some issues arising when using DDC 23 to classify the library materials, such as: classification numbers of DDC 23 are long, causing errors and confusion when processing and updating to the database, and numbers overflow when printing labels; The division between scientific fields in DDC is not consistent, materials about one field but appear in different divisions; There are too many notes, instructions, references, tables, preference tables, add tables, add full numbers, add parts of the numbers etc. making it difficult to build classification numbers. The process of building numbers needs to ensure the accuracy, consistency and science, so it requires the person working on classification to thoroughly understand the principles and strictly follow them, so it takes time and effort to research and give decision of selecting the classification number.

- The training of DDC at some training institutions still has many shortcomings: Lack of teaching tools; allocation of teaching time for DDC is not appropriate yet. The fact that some libraries have not been trained DDC 23, have not yet applied DDC 23 also hindered students’ work when practicing at the library. In addition, the curriculum of training institutions requires lecturers to have experience in DDC 23.

- Training and retraining of DDC 23 have not been organized regularly. The training has just been at basic level with short training courses, and lack of advanced training courses.

- Conferences and seminars on DDC 23 have not regularly been organized to discuss about issues arising from the implementation process, making it impossible to give out solutions and share good practices timely.

Promoting the achievements of the past 5 years, and identifying the shortcomings, the Conference has agreed on the direction and solutions to apply DDC 23 in the coming time as follows:

- Continue to promulgate the legal documents directing standardization of the library professional activities. The documents need to have high legal status and specific regulations on the agreement of using DDC 23 in the entire library industry.

- Propose ministries and branches to have documents directing the application of DDC 23 to libraries in the library system under their management.

- The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism should coordinate with the relevant agencies to promulgate legal documents on norms and remuneration for catalogers.

- The Publication Department - Ministry of Information and Communications needs to have a written mandate that publishers across the country must join in the Cataloging in Publication process for all their publications.

- Increase funding for library activities in general and for applying DDC 23 in particular in order to promote the library activities and its efficiency.

- Strengthen the activities of inspection, evaluation and learning by experiences in the application process.

- Regularly open training, retraining and advanced training courses to improve knowledge to use DDC 23. Widely promulgate manuals on the use of DDC 23 for libraries to easily get access and study.

- Promote the activity of cataloguing in publication. This work needs a high consensus among libraries during implementation. Building a shared catalog to save efforts and budget.

- Organize appropriate conferences and seminars in order to create a forum for exchange and sharing issues on application of DDC 23.

- Assist localities in implementing DDC 23 methodically, with detailed plans and manual instructions; support and implement training courses in the locality. Regularly make site survey about situation of applying DDC 23 at each individual library to give advice and assistance timely.

- Libraries should proactively plan for the use of DDC 23. For the first step, DDC 23 can be used for handling new materials, and when possible, retrieval of old materials will be conducted.

- Librarians who have attended training courses of the NLV need to conduct further training at their libraries to transfer the knowledge to other cataloguers, making them be able to apply DDC 23 to the classification work.

- Libraries and information agencies should allocate reasonable budget for applying DDC 23.

- Organize a section in the NLV to receive, support and answer the problems that catalogers face with while using DDC.

- Develop a Q&A section about professional issues on the NLV website so that libraries can directly discuss about difficulties in conduting professional activities, especially in the use of DDC 23.

- NLV should develop an online manual set on use of DDC 23, Vietnamese version.

- Towards using WebDewey in classification as the use of electronic versions is regularly and constantly updated with the changes of new scientific disciplines as well as interdisciplinary trends.

Photos of the event:


Panoramic view of theConference


Ms. Kieu Thuy Nga – NLV Director delivers the Conference opening speech


Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoi An - Deputy Director, Representative of Da Nang Department of Culture and Sports delivers the welcome speech


Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Anh – NLV Deputy Director presents“the Summary report of Application of Dewey Decimal Classification, Vietnamese edition23 in Vietnamese libraries (2014 - 2019)”


Dr. Vu Duong Thuy Nga - Director of the Library Department presentspaper on "Some issues of applying DDC 23 in the library system in Viet Nam"


MA. Vu Thi An - Deputy Director of Da Nang General SciencesLibrary presents paperon “Implementation situation and results of applyingDewey Decimal Classification, Vietnamese edition 23at Da Nang General SciencesLibrary”


MA. Tran Nu Que Phuong - Military Library presents paper on "Application of Dewey Decimal Classification, Vietnamese Edition 23 in Military Library System"


MA. Huynh Trung Nghia - Ho Chi Minh General SciencesLibrary presents paper on “Summary report onapplication of Dewey Decimal Classification, Vietnamese Edition 23at Ho Chi Minh General Science Libraryduring 2014-2019 period”


MSc. Huynh Toi - Deputy Director of Ba Ria - Vung Tau Public Province Library presents paperon "Experiences in applying DDC"


MA. Nguyen Thi Thuy Nga - Institute of Social Sciences Information presents paper on "Application of Dewey Decimal Classification - Vietnamese edition 23 at the Library of Social Sciences"


Ms. Vu Hong Lan - Luong Dinh Cua Library Information Center, Viet Nam National University of Agriculture presents paper on “Sharing experiences on application of DDC at Luong Dinh Cua Library Information Center, Viet Nam National University of Agriculture”


MA. Nguyen Huynh Mai - Can Tho University presents paperon "DDC 23 and teaching the Dewey Decimal Classification - Vietnamese edition at university level"


Ms. Hoang Thi Hong - Deputy Director of Dong Nai Public Province Library presents paperon “Some advantages and disadvantages when applying the DDC 23 - Vietnamese Edition at Dong Nai Public ProvinceLibrary”


MA. Do Thu Thom - Library, Arts & Culture Division - Department of Partyand Political Work, Ministry of Public Security presents paperon “Current situation of applying DDC 23 in the People's Public Security library system”


Ms. Nhu Xuan Phong - Learning Resources Center of Dong Nai Medical College presents paper on “Summary of the application of DDC 23 at Learning Resources Center of Dong Nai Medical College”


MA. Le Thi Khanh Van - Head of Cataloguing Division of NLV presents paper on "Dewey Decimal Classification - DDC 23, Vietnamese edition and the application at the NLV


Ms. Hoang Thi Thanh Phuong - Representative of IDT Company gives presetation on "Application of Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), the electronic version - WebDewey in information & library activities"


Mr. Nguyen Hoang Quy - Business Director, Igroup Viet Nam presents paper on "Solutions to support operation of modern libraries"


Ms. Phan Thi Thuy Giang - Director of Can Tho Library speaksg at the Conference


Delegates taking souvenir photos


News: Nguyen Nga; Photo: Thanh Ha