Monday 20 August 2012

UDC libraries in the world - 2012 study

In January 2012, the UDC editorial team started a study into the number of libraries using UDC as a continuation of the previous 2004-2006 survey (pubished in Journal of Documentation, 64/2, 2008) in which it was reported that the system was used in 125 countries. In subsequent years we have discovered users in countries previously assumed to have no UDC libraries. Also some countries have increased their use of UDC while others show a trend towards moving to other national or international systems. In the 2000 survey countries were presented as belonging to three user bands (see details):

In 2012 we looked into the IFLA World Report 2010 and verified and collected our own data on the total number of libraries by type in countries in which UDC is used. We recorded data for national, academic, public and school libraries and we presented  research/scientific/special libraries as a single library category type.

First statistics for Europe: no less than 144,000 UDC libraries

The first stage of the research looked into countries in which the majority of libraries are using UDC. With some help from the UDC Advisory Board members, we expanded our contacts and checked national statistics and information held by national libraries and library associations. So far we have received and checked statistics where available and the lowest and highest estmates from our contacts where statistical data was not available. Data collected for 28 European countries and 4 countries in Asia show over 144,000 libraries using UDC. The most significant numbers in our statistics come from countries in which UDC is the main classification system used in all or almost all libraries, for example Poland, Portugal, Spain, Hungary and Romania. Spain alone has over 24,000 libraries, Poland over 22,000, Hungary over 9,000, Romania over 11,000, Czechia over 9000, Bulgaria over 4,000 etc. Interestingly the statistics are significant for some countries in which UDC is used only in a certain kind of library. In Russia, for instance, the UDC is used in research (scientific), industrial and academic libraries, but there are over 5,000 libraries of this type. Often UDC libraries in such countries tend to hold large and significant collections both nationally and internationally. It should be noted that the number of libraries as a statistic on its own has to be put into context of the type of libraries and their significance. When UDC is used in, for example, public or school libraries, the number of libraries will be greater but these collections are generally smaller and less significant.

We recorded our statistics in terms of 'no less than' and 'no more than' and it is important to say that the research for Europe is yet to be completed. As more information is received, the previously collected data will be verified and cross-checked. For instance, the figure we have so far does not include UDC libraries in France, Germany, Ireland, the UK and Scandinavian countries, for which we could not find any reliable national data or recent surveys. For all such countries a further study would be required. Based on the figure above for Europe, and initial information from Africa, Asia (especially India) and South America our figures show over 150,000 libraries using UDC worldwide. Several independent regional studies are now in progress which will help provide more reliable figures for specific countries. The best way to establish the number of users is, obviously, via regional surveys that are most typically conducted by national library networks, independent researchers or through library school projects. In countries in which library schools encourage students to undertake useful studies of this type and when these studies are properly supervised and based on a sound and verifiable methodology, it is possible to collect valuable data.

We would like to invite colleagues who have done similar research or have an interest in conducting a survey of this kind to contact We can provide examples of methodologies applied elsewhere and a number of similar survey reports. Short reports on such surveys are invited for publication in our annual serial the Extension and Corrections to the UDC.

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