Writing Classification Made Simple – a long and winding road – a guest post from Eric Hunter

Posted by Corey Boudreau, Sales and Marketing Coordinator

To mark his book’s selection as an Editor’s Choice, in this guest post Eric Hunter discusses his experiences publishing Classification Made Simple and the resonance his work has had in the field.


Writing Classification Made Simple – a long and winding road

In the mid-twentieth century, the main thrust of library classification was towards the traditional schemes of Dewey and Library of Congress. A catalyst for change arrived in 1951, when Palmer and Wells published The Fundamentals of Library Classification, based on the researches of Dr S.R. Ranganathan. I can recall vividly a lecturer at Manchester Library School gamely trying to teach this ‘new’ approach but without any great success, as he was only in the throes of coming to grips with it himself!

After Manchester, I was called up for two years national service. Upon my demobilisation, I gradually eased my way back into librarianship and one of the subsequent positions that I held was head of a cataloguing department. Wells had incorporated some aspects of Ranganathan’s concepts into the British National Bibliography. I became enamoured of chain indexing and began to introduce it into the procedures of my department. I suppose that this was when I really began to appreciate fully the enormous practical advantages of Ranganathan’s theories.

In the late nineteen sixties I transferred to teaching. This gave me more of an opportunity to write and to publish. At first, I tended to concentrate on cataloguing and, more specifically, on Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (as some readers will be aware). The sixties and seventies were a time when computerisation was gradually taking hold and I became a convert. I tried to introduce computer studies into the teaching curriculum but some colleagues were less than enthusiastic. I recall one fellow lecturer referring derogatively to ‘Eric and his toys’. However, I believed that computerisation had to be the way forward. I was granted a year’s sabbatical to work and train in the University’s Computer Services Department. In 1982, my ABC of BASIC : An Introduction to Programming for Librarians  was published and, in 1985, Computerised Cataloguing.

At this time some excellent books on classification were available. Sayers’ Manual of Classification for Librarians, revised by Arthur Maltby, being one and Tony Foskett’s The Subject Approach to Information another. All the same, the fact that facet analysis lends itself admirably to computerisation and my experiences with students convinced me that there was an additional need for a book that explained the basic principles of classification more concisely, in a way that was easy to understand, profusely illustrated by practical examples. Thus the idea for Classification Made Simple was born; Ashgate saw the possibilities and agreed to publish; a contract being signed in May 1987.

Classification made simpleWhat impact has the book made? When it appeared in 1988, it was gratifying to note that, in general, the work was well received. Reviewers (who came from a variety of countries and organisations) applauded its simplicity and practicality; they recommended it to anyone needing guidance in the application of classification to the organisation and retrieval of documents in any type of information unit. More than one reviewer regretted the fact that it had not been available when they were students. Others said that it would be invaluable for any IT department concerned with search and retrieval. All of these positive comments were music to my ears.

I like to think that it has helped many of the people working in library and information management, and in data processing, to understand the basic principles and practical applications of classification. There have been enormous changes in librarianship and information management since the work was first written but, hopefully, it is still of some relevance. It is now in a third edition and a translation into Korean is currently in progress.

My advice to anyone wanting to publish would be to choose a subject that you are passionate about and have sufficient knowledge of. Carry out a literature search in order to ascertain what is already available on the topic; look for a gap in the market. Produce one or two extracts and a synopsis to submit to appropriate prospective publishers, to see if there is interest. There is nothing worse than having a completed manuscript sitting on one’s shelf ignored and unwanted.

Remember that writing is a labour of love and self-satisfaction. Textbook authorship will not make you a fortune. There will be no flashy car on the driveway. Perhaps you will just be able to afford the petrol to go in it! Writing is also time consuming. If you are in a relationship, you need the support of your spouse or partner. I am fortunate in that my wife is always encouraging, patient and tolerant during the long hours when I am happily tapping away on a typewriter or computer keyboard.

When the finished product finally arrives on your doorstep, there is a wonderful sense of achievement. All of the effort expended seems worthwhile; writing is rewarding! Carpe diem!

Eric Hunter


Full information about Classification Made Simple: An Introduction to Knowledge Organisation and Information Retrieval can be found on the Ashgate website.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

This week, James Saunders has published his interview with Antoine Beuger.


Interview with Antoine Beuger

Antoine Beuger’s suggestion that the subject of music is the pervasive noise of the world and that its form is cut out from this infinite diversity is perhaps surprising for a sounding result that is permanently on the verge of disappearing. The extreme dilution of sound in his work emphasises both its savoured value and the importance of space as its receptacle. Calm inaction is the norm, with sound and momentary action the exception. Listening to performances of his music, it is easy to forget what is being experienced: when sounds reappear after a long period of silence, they have an impact which is born only of necessity. Sounds also rarely appear together intentionally, almost always in isolation to further reinforce their identity: this is music of the utmost clarity. Yet within each sound Beuger suggests there are infinite possibilities, so that everything can be contained in the brief moments of activity which characterize his work. Structurally, his music from the 1990s is either rigorously ordered with a grid at its heart or very open, with the minimum necessary instructions as to how to project sounds. These approaches are linked: freedom out of precision, and precision out of freedom. More recently he has begun exploring the ontology of ensemble size in a series of pieces for specified numbers of players, such as dedekind duos (2003) in which two performers play specified pitches as long quiet tones, separated by enough time to breathe, or much longer, carefully listening to each other. From these pieces fundamental questions concerning the nature of separation and togetherness emerge, as does the serendipity of coincidence, focusing on how people interact with each other and project sound in performance. I was introduced to Beuger’s work by Manfred Werder, and we finally met up in Witten in April 2002 in a hotel breakfast room surrounded by most of the German contemporary music establishment, in town for the Neue Musiktage. Antoine showed me some scores, producing them from a beautiful well-used leather briefcase, and we had an interesting morning discussing each other’s work. I have been fascinated by his music ever since: for me it is a benchmark to which other music must be compared. The interplay of action and inaction, of sound and silence in carefully weighted and understated amounts continually makes me evaluate my own practice, and the ideas behind his work cut to the heart of the nature of music and making art.

The interview was conducted by email between 1 December 2003 – 12 March 2004.


Read the full interview here.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicAll the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Failure to Prevent World War I – a guest post from Hall Gardner

This is a guest post from Hall Gardner, author of The Failure to Prevent World War I

The failure to rpevent world war 1The Failure to Prevent World War I: The Unexpected Armageddon originated in my PhD research (1987) at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, which had compared and contrasted the geopolitical, political-economic, military technological and diplomatic dynamics between Great Britain and Germany that led to World War I in the period from 1870 to 1914 to the US-Soviet rivalry during the Cold War. Following Soviet collapse, my first book, Surviving the Millennium (1994) then updated the multiple dimensions of US-Soviet rivalry during the Cold War. Although I then began to focus more on the post-Cold War period, my study of the World War I period was not, however, entirely left in limbo. I began to engage in deeper research on the subject, particularly as I realized that most studies on the origins of WWI written in English tended to focus primarily on Anglo-German relations, but of course with a number of important studies on Austrian and Russian perspectives. And yet there seemed to be relatively fewer studies written on the French perspective.

Ashgate research companion to warMy first step was consequently to update my previous research for one of the chapters of the Ashgate Research Companion to War: Origins and Prevention, which I edited with Oleg Kobtzeff in 2012. But in working on that chapter, I realized that a truly systemic and long-term historical approach to the origins of World War I, which brought in the French perspective on Alsace Lorraine since the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war, was crucial to an understanding of the causes of the Armageddon of 1914-18. It is consequently in researching through official French documents that I discovered that French sources had reported in March 1911 that Berlin and Vienna had hoped to place the eldest son of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the House of Habsbourg-Lorraine and heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Maximilian, as the royal governor of Alsace-Lorraine. If Maximilian was made royal governor of Alsace-Lorraine, it would, in effect, provide a royal legitimacy to Austro-German control over the annexed territory, and help solidify the Austria-German alliance against their rivals. I then discovered, too late to include in the book that had already gone to press, that the secret meeting of Kaiser Wilhelm II with the Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Konopischt on 13-14 June 1914 (which was relayed by the Tsarist secret police) reconfirmed those secret French reports dating from March 1911. In effect, this represents a smoking gun (but not conclusive proof) to argue that the Russians, Serbs, as well as the French, all had reasons to eliminate the Archduke Ferdinand. The problem, and what requires deeper research, is that all French documents dealing with the relationship between the Archduke and Alsace Lorraine—in addition to reports on those who were involved in that assassination—were removed from the public domain. The smoking gun is there. But will the truth ever be revealed?


About the Author: Hall Gardner is Professor and Chair of International and Comparative Politics at the American University of Paris. He received his PhD in 1987 at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Washington DC. He is a member of the World Association of International Studies, Stanford University and is on the Advisory Boards of the New Policy Forum (Mikhail Gorbachev); Cicero Foundation: Paris/ Maastricht; Journal, Géostratégiques; Online Bibliography, Oxford University Press.

Read more about Hall Gardner’s new book, The Failure to Prevent World War I, including reviews and excerpts from the book on the Ashgate website. Read more about Ashgate’s Military and War publishing programme at www.ashgate.com/military.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

Continuing with this series, James Saunders has published his interviews with Laurence Crane and Philip Jeck:

Laurence Crane

When I first encountered Laurence’s music, my interest was in extreme miniaturisation, and his exquisitely constructed, poised compositions made a deep impact on me, both through their own beauty and the way it made me readdress the assumptions I had grown to have about the way music could (should?) be. It has been interesting to see the way in which his music has changed since then: principally the soundworld has expanded in some pieces, often looking away from pitch to define material. The focus and reduction is still apparent though, with a carefully selected palette of sounds distilled from the objects used to make them. Laurence’s material is resolutely abstract, and despite the superficial references to a classical tradition, his harmony has little sense of teleology. Tonal constructions are hinted at, but mutated through a studied use of unbalanced and extended repetitions. His approach to titling is important too: descriptions of the ensemble, as with Feldman, form a large proportion of his catalogue, as do names (which make passing references to the music’s original performers). The Skempton connection can also be heard through his general preference for miniatures and movements. Although more recent work has explored longer spans, much of Crane’s music deals with economy.

The interview was conducted by telephone on 14 June 2007. Read the interview in full.

Philip Jeck

While improvisation forms a component of Philip Jeck’s music, he considers it as much arranging given his use of records as material. His work in performance, recording, and installation is linked by the equipment he uses, but is in other ways very different. In his performances, making decisions about the deployment of material can be altered by the inconsistent response of his aging record players and well-played records, necessitating the readjustment of ideas when something unexpected occurs. The installation work uses domestic time switches to control grouped banks of players set with a prepared tone arm tied to create loops, or the use of locked grooves. Over time, these too degrade and produce slippage: the time switches drift chaotically out of phase, and the arm and groove preparations become worn. Here the equipment defines the detail of the resultant music, taking its own course within Jeck’s prescribed boundaries. Both these approaches contrast with his recorded work, surprisingly created by mostly cutting and pasting minidisc recordings of live performances. The opportunity to audit the results of this process allows for more precision, although he notes the importance of surprise here as well, with a dislocation between his memory of a performance and its newfound context as sample informing his decisions. It is perhaps no surprise that collage is a common theme through all this work, given his material is derived from locked physical objects in which sound resides. It is testament to his skill at manipulating them though that subverts the music’s construction in the sounding result.

The interview was conducted by telephone on 13 June 2007. Read the interview in full.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicAll the interviews from James Saunders can be found in The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music.

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music: The Interviews

The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental MusicPosted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

James Saunders is publishing a series of interviews from The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music via his website. The 14 interviews that feature in the companion will be posted gradually over the coming weeks, starting with Christian Wolff:

Introduction provided by James Saunders:

Christian Wolff’s work addresses the way musicians interact with each other, and with material. In much of his work the contingency of the relationships he prescribes between people leads to a vibrant provisionality in the resultant music. In pieces like Looking North from the Prose Collection (1968-71), or the fourth part of Burdocks (1970-1) performers are, in differing ways, asked to attempt to synchronize their actions with those of others. The performance energy set up by these simple constraints can only be achieved by players listening and responding to each other in this manner: any attempt to capture this activity through more conventional forms of notation would be pointless. It is no surprise that Wolff has worked for a long time as an improviser: the spontaneity in his notated work draws on this experience whilst at the same time formalizing it. Performers are sometimes asked to make decisions during performance. Whilst these are not necessarily improvisatory actions, there is a freedom of movement granted through his use optionality: time brackets, multiple transpositions of the same material, or the gravitational pull of heterophony. The result is a social music, in which participation is a rich and rewarding experience. In his recent work, it has been interesting to see how he has revisited the varied strategies employed over the course of his career, whether contingent or more determinate. There is a compendium-like summary of ideas in these pieces, whereby disparate fragments are presented together to form longer spans, such as with the hour-long Long Piano (Peace March 11) (2004-5) or the piece for three orchestras Ordinary Matter (2001). This admission of personal history is unusual amongst composers, for whom the pressure to move forwards is constant, and it is indicative of the inclusive approach to his work.

Find the full interview here.

About the Editor: James Saunders is a composer, with an interest in modularity and series. He performs in the duo Parkinson Saunders, and with Apartment House. He is Head of the Centre for Musical Research at Bath Spa University, currently working on the composition and performance practice of text notation, and directs the ensemble Material.

Contemporary African Politics

Posted by Michael Drapper, Marketing Executive

Today, as Nigeria goes to the polls for its fifth quadrennial general elections since the 1999 return to democracy, it is clear that the country, and Africa as a whole, is in a period of rapid change. Now, as in Nigeria, some two-thirds of countries on the continent have embarked on comprehensive democratic transitions, in diverse forms, with varying degrees of maturation. Crucially, there is broad recognition among African elites that participatory and democratic processes are standards or benchmarks for judging them, as shown by the establishment of the African Union, the New Partnership for African Development, and the African Peer Review Mechanism. The improved political climate reflects important economic and social changes as well. Since the mid-1990s, economic growth in the majority of African countries has been strong, surpassing 5% per year in fifteen countries on the continent. For a number of these, higher growth has been accompanied by diversification of their economies and exports.

Africans actors deserve the credit for much of the observable change. Western aid agencies, Chinese mining companies and UN peacekeepers have played their part, but the continent’s main driver of change appears to be its own people. Across the continent a palpable sense of hope abounds from rural to urban communities and across the generations. The ability of governments to play a mediatory role between global capitalism and the domestic, intra-state arena is being transformed, as states exhibit increasing capacities and resources as well as different levels of social and political motivation. While it is true that most African states are responding to the external pressures of the International Financial Institutions, their governments still bear responsibility for promoting an approach to development and on this they appear to be doing a little better, especially in economic management and striking peace deals.

Whether what we are witnessing is a third liberation of the continent – the first from colonialism, the second from autocratic indigenous rule, and now something far different – remains to be seen. Understanding the evolving reality is the central aim of Ashgate’s new Contemporary African Politics series. This series seeks original approaches to furthering our understanding of the ensuing changes in contemporary Africa. It will look at the full range and variety of African politics in the 21st century, covering the changing nature of African society, gender issues, security, economic prosperity and poverty, to the development of relations between African states, external organisations and between leaders and the people they would govern. The series aims to publish work by senior scholars as well as the best new researchers.

If you have a proposal you would like to submit for consideration, please email Rob Sorsby, Senior Commissioning Editor, at RSorsby@ashgate.com. For more information on submitting a proposal, please visit www.ashgate.com/authors.

Ethnicity democracy and citizenship in africaReinventing development

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