News & features from LAS

In the SHT

Mark (the librarian) looked up from a pile of pamphlets on nutrition and water supply and mused “why are these ‘bex-ee’ (BEXY) and ‘sez-ee’ (SEZY)?” As a young twenty something with (mostly) one thing on his mind he was no doubt hoping there would be books bearing the label SEXY. Later, when he was on the desk, readers borrowed and returned books on EB[sic]idemology.

What Mark didn’t know was soon he would be versed in to the wonderful world of the Barnard Classification.

A unique classification for LSHTM library:

Devised by Cyril Cuthbert Barnard (1894-1959), the first librarian at the School, the Barnard classification uses upper case letters from A to Z to define the main classes (for example B is biological sciences). Decimal numbers are used to denote geographical areas, and decimal points indicate a subdivision. Generally speaking, the longer the classification, the more specific the subject. For example, in class L, parasitology, malaria is LF. Additional characters without a point denote specific types of malaria (LFF plasmodium falciparum); characters added after a point denote an aspect, e.g. LF.E is epidemiology or geographical distribution of malaria. Add .1 after this and we have LF.E.1, epidemiology of malaria in Africa. A longer number usually means a smaller or more specific area e.g. LF.E.17 – West Africa, LF.E.177- Tanzania and so forth.

So what of young Mark’s BEXY and SEZY? Well BEXY (class B, biology), is nutrition in relation to the health of the community; and SEZY (class S, public health) water supply in relation to the health of the community.

Some of our classes are easier to remember than others – epidemiology falls within E and entomology is N – but C is general medicine and D history of medicine.

I leave you with SHT – pit latrines.

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