Colon Classification: A Requiem

  • M.P. Satija Dept. of Library & Information Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar-143 005 E-mail:
  • Jagtar Singh Dept. of Library & Information Science, Punjabi University, Patiala-147 002 E-mail:
Keywords: Classification, library classification, faceted classification, facet analysis Ranganathan’s theory of classification, colon classification, classification design and evaluation


This paper lists important publications on classification by S. R. Ranganathan (1892-1972), veritably called the father of Indian library movement. It outlines brief history of the seven editions of his revolutionary colon classification (CC) from 1928 to 1987. Seven editions are grouped into three evolutionary versions. It states the unique features of the CC as based on his deep study of the nature and growth of knowledge, and explains the work of designing a classification system into three successive but demarcated planes of work, namely, idea, verbal, and notional planes. Tools for designing and evaluating a system are enshrined in his 55 canons, 22 principles, 13 postulates and 10 devices. Further, this paper discusses the division and mapping of knowledge, types of subjects, and modes of their formation in the universe of knowledge as envisaged by Ranganathan. Semantic and syntactic relations are enshrined in his PMEST facet formula fitted with rounds and levels of facets, and other principles, such as the famous Wall-Picture principle, for citation order of facets. It also briefly explains facet analysis and number building with its notational base of 74 digits, and concludes with extent of its use and its enduring contribution to the science of classification and its future.

How to Cite
Satija, M., & Singh, J. (2013). Colon Classification: A Requiem. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 33(4).
Special Issue on Visualising Libraries