Category Archives: Information Management

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.

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Online versions of our printed catalogues are available to browse. Please follow the links below to your subject(s) of interest.

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Tara Brabazon on Digital Dieting

Posted by Corey Boudreau, Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Digital dietingIn 2013, Tara Brabazon authored Digital Dieting – From Information Obesity to Intellectual Fitness. Since its publication, this title has proven to be a significant contribution to the field of information and cultural management, and has cemented Tara as one of the foremost authors in the field.

Recognizing the success of this title, we asked the author a series of questions regarding her experience researching and writing Digital Dieting. She has kindly created an insightful podcast which allows listeners to learn more about her experience with Ashgate, the development of the book’s central themes, her intended contributions to the field, and her advice for anyone wanting to publish their own work.

Click here to listen to the full podcast. Tara Brabazon has authored several Ashgate titles including most recently Thinking Popular Culture (2008), The University of Google (2007), and From Revolution to Revelation (2005).

Tara Brabazon is Professor of Education and Head of the School of Teacher Education, Charles Sturt University, Australia.

Completely revised and updated second edition of the BIALL Handbook of Legal Information Management is now available

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

BIALL handbook of legal information managementA new edition of The BIALL Handbook of Legal Information Management, which was first published seven years ago, was published last month by the British & Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) and Ashgate. Edited by Loyita Worley and Sarah Spells, this is a valuable handbook and important reference tool for managers and staff of all types of legal information services.

The new edition has been thoroughly updated by the original team of experts and new contributors, to provide best practice guidance on the key legal information issues for every type of service. Each of the chapters has been updated to reflect general changes in law libraries in the past seven years. The Handbook covers new information technologies, including social networking and communication. New chapters also focus on the key topics of outsourcing and the impact of the Legal Services Act 2007.

“This second edition brings the Handbook right up to date which ensures that this essential reference work continues to be an extremely valuable resource for anyone interested in the field of legal information services across all sectors of employment.  The publication of this new edition is due in large part to Loyita Worley of Reed Smith LLP.  Loyita took up the task of editing following the untimely death of Sarah Spells, Law Librarian and Deputy Head of Teaching and Research Support at SOAS Library, who passed away before the work on the new edition was complete.”   Marianne Barber, current BIALL President

Contents:  Foreword, Jas Breslin; Preface; Law libraries and their users, Jules Winterton; Sources of legal information and their organization, Guy Holborn; Legal research – techniques and tips, Peter Clinch; Legal technologies: Current awareness systems, Dean Mason; Law firm intranets, Sally Roberts; Library management systems (LMS), Mandy Webster; Financial management: Planning and budgeting, Sarah Brittan and Michael Maher; Negotiating online subscriptions, Fiona Fogden; Managing legal information professionals, Loyita Worley and Jacky Berry; Copyright and data protection, Chris Holland; Knowledge management, Ann Hemming; Collection management: Cataloguing and classification, Diana Morris; Developing the collection and managing the space, Lesley Young; Taxonomies and indexing, Christine Miskin; E-learning and virtual learning environments, Angela Donaldson; Planning a training session, Emily Allbon; Making the most of social media tools, James Mullan; Outsourcing, Kate Stanfield and Sophie Thompson; The Legal Services Act, Amanda McKenzie; Case studies: Academic law libraries, Diane Raper; Freelance legal information professionals, Karen Scott; Government department libraries, Penny Scott, Stephanie Curran, Kathy Turner and Rachel Robbins; Law firm libraries and information services, Loyita Worley; Solo librarians, Nicola Herbert; Professional society libraries: the Northern Ireland experience of change and repositioning, Heather Semple; References and Bibliography; Index.

About the EditorsLoyita Worley has been Senior Manager of EMEA Library Operations at Reed Smith LLP since January 2007 following the merger of Reed Smith and Richards Butler and has recently been promoted to Director. She was Chair of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) in 1997-1998 and has been involved with BIALL in many capacities since and is currently on the Legal Information Management Editorial Board. She is also a member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA).

Sarah Spells was the Law Librarian and Deputy Head of Teaching and Research Support at SOAS Library, UK.

For more information on the book, please visit:

A guest post from Tim Wales, author of ‘Business School Libraries in the 21st Century’

Tim WalesTim Wales recently joined the University of West London as Director of Library Services. He was previously Head of Library at the London Business School and Associate Director (E-Strategy) at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Business School Libraries in the 21st CenturyThis week sees the formal publication of my new book for Ashgate, Business School Libraries in the 21st Century. A lot has happened since I started writing and editing the book in August 2012 with my fellow contributors around the world, not least the fact that I changed jobs during its final gestation period and moved out of the business school library sector to take on a more general academic library leadership role at The University of West London.

This change has left me feeling somewhat conflicted about the book: depending on my frame of my mind, I see it serving as an effective “capstone” (to use MBA programme jargon) for my time spent leading a business school library with a nice piece of international collaboration to capture the common sets of issues business school libraries around the world are having to confront and deal with.

Or, alternatively, I see it as a “tombstone” for my time in charge at London Business School Library (LBS) – this is because the strategic planning exercise for the Library’s future that I describe in Chapter 12 will continue under the aegis of an interim Head of Library (currently being appointed) reporting to a senior Library Review group. I am not so vain to presume that the future scenarios for the Library that I came up with are the only possible variations and so I will be watching through my fingers as events play out in Regent’s Park in the next 12 months. Two predictions though: 1) the Library’s reporting line in the organisational structure will change from being part of IT (it is always fascinating to discover how many different variations Library reporting lines can throw up around the world) and 2) the Library team will move into the School’s new Sammy Ofer Centre on the Marylebone Road in some shape or form in 2017.

I should also say that I feel very proud to have published my first professional book just as I was proud to have published various professional articles in the past and written a chapter for another Ashgate book on academic libraries for my friend, fellow contributor and business library head, Andy Priestner. Not only do these publications give me ideal testing and demoing metadata for use with Library systems, citation databases and altmetrics, they give me the means to understand the publishing cycle and associated processes for the academic community I support. This in turn gives me a little more professional credibility at a senior level and, crucially, the opportunity to experience at first hand the issues wrapped up in my role as Director of Library Services: academic dissemination and visibility, publisher processes and agreements, open access publishing (OA) not to mention working remotely within a defined virtual subject community internationally to name just a few.

OA in relation to my own situation with this book deserves further brief comment. I remember having discussions with senior managers at LBS regarding how to handle publications of faculty who had since left the School. Should associated metadata and outputs be left in the publications database or not? The scenario did not extend to non-faculty staff who happened to publish as there was no tradition of including such staff in the publications database anyway (I’m deliberately not using the word “repository” by the way). So having carefully chosen a publisher like Ashgate that permits green OA chapter deposits in repositories, but with nowhere now to deposit them as I have left my associated institution, where can I deposit my chapters to fulfil my moral and ethical duties as a librarian? Thankfully, there is a OA refuge for nomadic authors like me in my situation, it’s called OpenDepot. By the way, my book includes a very interesting chapter on the OA situation in France by Agnès Melot and Sophie Forcadell from HEC Paris.

So would I edit such a book again? However good your contributors, it is undoubtedly hard work to keep an eye on all the details all of the times and and it is very easy to lose momentum and interest through the proofing stages. I don’t think I will be able to read the book myself for another two years as I am sick of the sight of the text but also afraid that I will uncover mistakes or omissions! At times, it was like an extension of the day job in terms of managing people over whom you have no formal control but require their co-operation in order to complete a task to a required degree of quality by a certain date. The worst part was having to gently encourage (by email) two prospective contributors to withdraw their draft chapter voluntarily and rewrite it e.g. as a journal article instead, without hurting their feelings or injuring their professional pride.This leads me to think that my next publication will be a sole author work in whatever shape or form.

Why should you read this book? Well, it collates (original) material together which you will not encounter elsewhere, including some primary research and original change management case studies for libraries in the USA, Europe and Asia (like all good MBA courses!) as well as some thought-provoking opinion pieces from respected librarians in the sector. And, as it is emphatically not a “how to be a business librarian” or “how to answer business queries” book, then it has general relevance for senior library professionals and managers working in tertiary education with English as a first or second language. It also has a very touching and personal foreword by the Dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, about the importance of academic libraries in his own career which is eminently citable in its own right. Enjoy…

The author writes this blog post in a personal capacity.

Launching Defining Digital Humanities!

This is a guest post from Melissa Terras, one of the editors of Defining Digital Humanities (just published, December 2013). It originally appeared on the dedicated Defining Digital Humanities blog on the UCL website.

Defininf Digital HumanitiesWe’re really pleased – after two years of discussion, editing, and working with Ashgate, that Defining Digital Humanities is finally out in both print and ebook formats.

Given the growth in Digital Humanities centers and courses, we wanted to pull together core readings in our field – from both “Humanities Computing” and “Digital Humanities” – that would give the flavour of the various discussions that have occurred when people have tried to define Digital Humanities. Our editorial stance is not to define DH ourselves, but to present the core content that appear on various syllabi, in one handy print volume that can be used in class, or by those interested in understanding more about why the term Digital Humanities is so used, and so discussed.

As is the nature with a reader text, most of the content is available elsewhere: on this site we link to the online versions of the materials published in the book, although some of the content is behind paywalls.  We provide one major new chapter written by Edward Vanhoutte on the histories of Digital Humanities, which we make freely available on this site. We also hope to keep the further reading section on this site updated with newer blog posts, and journal articles, which add to the discussion of that it means to undertake Digital Humanities activities, and we’ll be adding additional content to the site as time goes on. The print volume also contains introductions to each featured article, and comments from most article authors, as well as a list of questions that can be used in a taught class to spark discussion.

We believe we’ve created a very useful compendium of texts which is a starting point when trying to understand the field which is now described as Digital Humanities. You can follow @DefiningDH on twitter, and please do let us know of other content that we should be including on this site.

New findings show museums can make you healthy and happy

This is a guest post by Helen J Chatterjee. It was originally published on the UCL Museums & Collections Blog.

There are now lots of examples of museums offering activities and programmes geared towards improving their audience’s health and wellbeing. From creative arts and museum object handling sessions through to talks, tours and knitting groups, museums offer a diverse array of ‘healthy’ activities. But what is the real impact of such activities on individual’s health and wellbeing?

Guy Noble from University College London Hospital and I have been collating, reviewing and analysing hundreds of projects, reports, publications and other evidence in our new book Museums, Health and Well-being, to find out if museums really can make you happier and healthier. The results are startling and impressive.

Museums Health and WellbeingThere is substantial anecdotal evidence regarding the value of museums-in-health, a new term coined in the book, and when considered along with the scholarly evidence it appears that museums benefit health and wellbeing in lots of ways, by providing:

  • positive social experiences, leading to reduced social isolation
  • opportunities for learning and acquiring news skills
  • calming experiences, leading to decreased anxiety
  • increased positive emotions, such as optimism, hope and enjoyment
  • increased self-esteem and a sense of identity and community
  • increased opportunities for meaning making
  • positive distraction from clinical environments
  • new experiences which may be novel, inspirational and meaningful
  • increased communication between families, carers and health professionals

(Taken from Museums, Health and Well-being, Ashgate, 2013)

Our own research investigated the value of museum object handling sessions in hospitals and care homes. We used various clinical measures of quality of life, psychological and subjective wellbeing, along with analysis of conversations from the handling sessions. The results showed highly significant improvements in positive emotion, wellbeing and happiness, improvements in patients’ perceptions of their own health and optimism about the role of museum object handling as a distraction from ward life that impacts positively on relationships among staff, patients and their carers.

This is the first time that the full variety of work going on in museums, and all of the associated evidence, have been brought together to demonstrate the impact of museums-in-health. The book reveals that when considered altogether, there is now substantial support which is backed up by a robust evidence base.

And the good news doesn’t stop there. It is extremely timely to think about a new ‘public health’ role for museums. In 2012 the UK government introduced The Health and Social Care Act. The new Act is bringing about major changes to the way health and social care services will be delivered in the future. A key part of these health reforms sees a shift towards the idea that ‘prevention is better than cure’, within a framework which will require a multi-agency approach with an increased reliance on third sector organisations such as charities, voluntary and community organisations. Part of the reason for the health reforms is the realisation that individuals are living longer but with unhealthier lifestyles, with a significant increase in age- and lifestyle-related diseases, such as dementia and diabetes; this places added pressure on health services (including the NHS) and social services. It has also been shown that there is a ‘social gradient’ in relation to health, whereby individuals from poorer socio-economic backgrounds experience reduced health, wellbeing and social resilience.

With over 2500 museums in the UK alone, many of which are free, museums offer a largely untapped resource as places which can support public health. Museums, however, are very well placed to address issues such as social isolation, physical and mental ill-health and evidence discussed in our book suggests that museums can help to build social capital and resilience, and improve health and wellbeing.

Given the benefits described above from engaging in museums, it is easy to see how museums could fit into this new era of health commissioning. There are already lots of great examples of museums-in-health initiatives, as discussed in the book. Our findings show that several museums are targeting older adults, mental health service users, children with learning difficulties and promoting public health education.

We hope that before too long all museums will adapt their access plans to consider health and wellbeing benefits by targeting specific groups such as those people who are vulnerable, socially isolated, lonely or unemployed, older adults in care, and other health and social care service users such as people with physical or cognitive disabilities. If you are a museum and you want to benefit your community’s health and wellbeing check out Museums, Health and Well-being to find out how!

Author: Dr Helen Chatterjee is Head of Research and Teaching at UCL Museums and a Senior Lecturer in Biology at University College London. Guy Noble is Head of Arts at University College London NHS Foundation Trust.

Helen and Guy’s book Museums, Health and Well-being is published by Ashgate and is available now from

Visit the Touch and Wellbeing project website for further information about the research.