Advanced search

The Bliss Bibliographic Classification : using the scheme

Application of schedules and notation

BC2 utilises the facet analytical theory developed by the members of the United Kingdom Classification Research Group. The theory expands upon S. R. Ranganathan’s original five categories (Personality, Matter, Energy, Space and Time) to give a set of thirteen categories (see below) which are used for the analysis and organization of terms. In addition to this a standard citation order, enabling combination between categories has also been developed, based on the principles of progression from general to special, increasing concreteness of terms, and pragmatic order derived from literary warrant and preferred arrangements of documents.

The standard categories recognised in ‘classical’ facet analysis are:

Thing – kind – part – property – material – process – operation – patient – product – by-product – agent – space – time

Any item, document or object acquired is placed into a subject arrangement (classification) by examining which categories are represented, then using the notation for these categories to build a classmark representing them in a fixed and easily remembered order.

EXAMPLE: an item on residential care for the elderly is placed first in the 'Patient' category and then in a 'Operation' sub-category. In the Social Welfare class (Q), the classmark representing this compound class is QLV EL:

Q        Social welfare
QEL        Residential care
QLV        Old people

Adding more detail is straightforward. For example, library provision for the elderly in residential care combines:

Q        Social welfare
QEL        Residential care
QEP X      Library provision
QLV        Old people

The classmark QLV EPX L represents the subject exactly.

Classifying using an inverted schedule

The classifier must first analyse the subject of the work, then arrange the components, or facets, of the subject into the reverse order of the BC2 schedule, going from the most specific to the most general facet. The classmarks for each facet are then combined by dropping the repeated initial class letter from all but the first. This technique is called retroactive notation. As BC2's citation order is inverted, the facet cited first actually comes last in the schedules.

For example, classmarks can be derived as follows:

Questionnaires on changes in marriage patterns among Muslims in France: KVF QSP BKC E7N

K        Society
K7N        Questionnaires
KCE        Social change
KPB K      Muslims
KQS        Marriage
KVF        France

Unemployment in rural communities in India: KVQ EOM MUR

KMU R      Rural communities
KOM        Unemployed persons
KVQ E      Indian society

Field studies of kinship in hunter-gatherer societies: KSX JPG 9V

K9V        Field studies
KPG        Kinship
KSX J      Hunter-gatherer societies

Community care policy: QEN AGP

Q        Social welfare
QAG P      Policy
QEN        Community care

Working with parents and pre-school children: QLP KPB CP

QBC P      Partnership
QE         Social services
QKP        Parents
QLP        Pre-school children

It is also possible to use other devices for building classmarks which are even more specific, such as alphabetical devices to represent the name of an individual or an organisation. Detailed instructions are given in the Introduction to each class and within each schedule.

To specify place, date, language or form the Common Auxiliary Schedules (from the BC2 volume Introduction and Auxiliary Schedules) are used:

European child protection services. Training pack for carers: QLJ JE8 D2F P

QLJ JE     Child protection services
8D         Europe
2FP        Multimedia

Handbook of personnel management

TU         Personnel management
3MK        Guides, handbooks

Citation order

The order in which the facets are built up (i.e. from special to general) is called the citation order and BC2 is designed to give the most logical and helpful order, whether browsing books on the shelf or organising web resources. In Class K (Society), for example, all works on aspects of French society will be gathered together at KVF and on Indian society at KVQ E, whereas material on Muslim societies in general will be at KPB K and unemployed people in general at KOM.


BC2 recognises that the rigid application of its citation order may not best serve the needs of readers in all contexts. For example, the classifier may feel that it is more helpful to group all studies of 'the family' or 'urban communities' in Western societies at KQJ and KMU T respectively, rather than scatter these concepts under the nation state (e.g. KVE QJ - The family in Britain; KVY MUT - Urban communities in the USA). Such a choice is possible as the concepts of 'place' can be added to classmarks using letters from Auxiliary Schedule 2.

A library specialising in Sociology or Social Anthropology may wish to keep all 'fringe' subjects, e.g. Psychology (Class I), Religion (Class P), Politics (Class R), within Class K, rather than create separate sections. BC2 provides for this by drawing material from its other schedules into Class K. Classifiers may need to refer to these other schedules for detailed vocabulary.

The classifier’s first task must be to decide on which alternatives are best for the library's users and to mark these in the schedule. Once chosen, the alternatives must be adhered to.

Subject index

As BC2's vocabulary is extensive and up-to-date, it is easy to create a subject index using the terms in the schedules. This index must not duplicate the order of the schedule or the order of the books on the shelves, as its purpose is to bring together scattered terms. To achieve this, the elements in the index entry for any item should be in the same order as the components of its classmark, giving entries like this:
Kinship: hunter-gatherer societies                   KSX JPG
Muslims: marriage: French society                    KVF QSP BK
Rural communities: unemployment: Indian society      KVQ EOM MUR