I was looking for a Dewey Decimal number to accompany a topic in an article I'm working on, and learned, although perhaps I should have known, that DDC is not available for open access. I wandered around OCLC's Dewey site, and came across the license that controls use of the WebDewey product. Some aspects of it surprised me.
The first was the definition of "Subscriber" in the WebDewey contract: "Subscriber means a library or not-for-profit information agency..." So does this mean that a corporate library cannot get a license to use the DDC? Or is it just that they must work only with the hard copy? What would be the purpose of limiting use to non-profits?
The next is from the grant of license. First, you are granted a license to use WebDewey to create bibliographic records, but "Such bibliographic records and metadata may display DDC numbers, but shall not display DDC captions." This basically eliminates the possibility of creating a rich classified display for a library. I find that it isn't enough to browse the shelf viewing only the classification number and the book titles, since the book titles alone do not reveal what the classification number means. I'd love to have a virtual shelflist that lets me know where I am, topically, and then shows me the titles in that area. But, no, you are not allowed to do that with the Dewey Classification... at least not unless you limit your display to "the DDC22 summaries," that is the first three digits of the Dewey classification number. Since modern topics have necessitated a great lengthening of the Dewey numbers (such as: Disaster relief efforts for earthquakes are classed in 363.3495095982, according to the Dewey Blog), being limited to the three digit topics is nearly useless.
I realize that the DDC is business, but the business of libraries is to inform, to help users find what they need, not to obscure our shelf order. Sheesh!