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The (De-)Universalization of the United States: Inscribing Ma¯ori History in the Library of Congress Classification

The Organization of Knowledge

ISBN: 978-1-78714-532-0, eISBN: 978-1-78714-531-3

Publication date: 20 July 2017


This chapter demonstrates how the University of Waikato in New Zealand adapted a global standard (the Library of Congress Classification) for local use by inscribing topics related to and about Māori history and people.

The findings are the result of using library catalogs and classifications as primary historical documents.

The University of Waikato’s classification simultaneously uses and implicitly critiques a universal system written from a U.S. vantage point. It seems to acknowledge the benefits and necessities of using a globally recognized standard, as well as a need to inscribe local, anticolonial perspectives into that system.

The research relies on historical documents, and some aspects related to purpose and attribution are difficult to ascertain.

The local adaptation of the Library of Congress Classification may serve as a model for other local adaptations.

This may bring new dimensions to thinking about colonialism and anticolonialism in knowledge organization systems. It contributes to ongoing conversations regarding indigenous knowledge organization practices.

Although scholars have examined Māori subject headings, research on local shelf classifications in New Zealand have not been objects of study in the context of global and local knowledge organization. This chapter brings an important classification to light.




I owe many thanks to Jenny Hooker and the staff and the University of Waikato Library for supplying me with the classification and very helpful information about its origins.


Adler, M. (2017), "The (De-)Universalization of the United States: Inscribing Ma¯ori History in the Library of Congress Classification", The Organization of Knowledge (Studies in Information, Vol. 12), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 33-50.



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