Why are the class numbers used in the Law Library so different? Cardiff and Moys

A colleague recently wondered why we use the decimal notation version of Moys, particularly when the law collection is housed in a building that otherwise classifies its books in LCC.

The Moys classification scheme was chosen in the early 1990s for the combined law collections of University College, Cardiff and the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology in their new location on the first floor of the Arts and Social Studies library.  By this time, the second edition of Moys had appeared with both LC-style and decimal notation, so a choice of numbering system was possible. CLICCopyright 003Perhaps the blue-printed UWIST bookplate on our first edition Moys suggests that the decision to use the scheme in the Institute’s law library in a notation that would not disrupt its Dewey sequences had already been made before the 1988 merger and this decision was simply extended to UCC’s collection.

Moys notation was originally conceived of as fitting in to a Library of Congress classification scheme, the scheme generally used in academic libraries throughout the Commonwealth.  The first edition of Moys (1968) was printed only with LC-style numbering.  Five years later Elizabeth Moys copyrighted a cyclostyled pamphlet offering her classification in decimal format.  Her introduction to the stapled sheets frankly acknowledges the format to be an “afterthought”. But from the second edition onwards the pages of the published volumes have presented its distinctive parallel notations as (almost) equal partners.

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Why was a scheme that would fit in with the Library of Congress classification scheme necessary?

LCC was developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the notable exception of the law schedule, Class K.  Work was not begun on K until the mid-1960s. It is said that there was a certain amount of resistance from legal practitioners to subject classification in their libraries.  We have a copy of the ‘Preliminary edition’ published in 1969 for the law of the United States but work on foreign jurisdictions did not begin until 1970 and a final draft of the most recent K schedule, KI for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, was only completed in 2012. So, in the absence of a usable scheme for libraries of common law jurisdictions around the world, a classification scheme was developed by Elizabeth Moys in the 1960s. We are fortunate that the scheme is kept up to date by dedicated editors, the latest edition of Moys, Moys 5, being published earlier this year by Walter de Gruyter.

As to Cardiff’s choice of notation, there can only be speculation. But it certainly makes it simpler to sort ASSL returns and, more recently, it has facilitated the arrival of Optometry books (Dewey) on the first floor of ASSL.