A computational analysis of library classification through time

2 minute read

library shelf with books

Humans have been using libraries since ancient times, but have librarians always classified and organised books the same way? This study will observe how library classification has changed over time using computational analysis.

The goal of this project is to:

  • Examine how human library classification has changed and evolved over time using large-scale computational analysis

The details

Library classification refers to the way a library organises its books and resources. A well-classified library will allow its patrons to find quickly and easily what they are looking for. Libraries have been around for thousands of years, and this project will examine how library classification has changed over time as human history has progressed. Taking advantage of the capabilities of large-scale computational analysis, we will draw on data from thousands of libraries to explore how book classifications have emerged over time.


The first part of the project will explore the extent to which existing models of categorization and cultural evolution can account for library classification. The second part will focus on classification bias and will use computational methods to identify ways in which classification systems such as the Dewey Decimal system can be adjusted to better represent the diversity of materials in library collections worldwide.

Supervision team


The University of Melbourne: Professor Charles Kemp

The University of Toronto: Assistant Professor Yang Xu

Joint PhD Candidates

Candidate 1: Katie Warburton

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