The Planetree Classification Scheme
Planetree made a decision in 1981 to create a unique classification scheme for the organization of consumer and patient health and medical information. At the time, the existing classification schemes inadequately represented the growing field of consumer health literature.
The Planetree Classification Scheme was developed to organize a consumer or patient health and medical library so that people could find information without the specialized knowledge of a health professional. The scheme is easy for both staff and patrons to use. The collection is organized to support self-service and individual choice in interacting with library staff. Additionally, much useful information can be found by personally browsing through the library’s collection.
The new classification scheme also emphasizes the organization of library materials by their anticipated usage as well as by their descriptive value. It considers the users’ points of view, and their purposes for seeking information. For example, a book on yoga for the disabled is found in the physical disability section – a patron browsing through books for the disabled can thus find a book on a topic that may not have been originally considered.
The Planetree Classification Scheme may be used to organize the books, journals, multimedia materials and pamphlets of a consumer health library. Additionally, the subject structure can serve as a model for the organization of electronic files. The scheme consists of an alphanumeric numbering system that groups the major fields of health and medicine and offers subject subdivisions tailored to the field of consumer health information. A broad numbering range within each subject division allows for the creation of future numbers for new diagnoses and/or the adaptation of the scheme to more specialized consumer or patient library collections. The Planetree classification scheme can be modified to reflect the rapidly changing trends in consumer health literature, so that access to the most current medical information can be provided.
The classification scheme groups similar topics under their major subject divisions. This is done so that, whenever possible, patients and health care consumers will have immediate access to a range of information relevant to their topic. Unlike a classification scheme organized alphabetically in which melanoma is found next to migraine, patrons find melanoma information within the cancer section near potentially useful information on coping with chemotherapy, visualization techniques, and support for the families of cancer patients.
An outline of the major Planetree Classification subject divisions and subdivisions follows. It is recommended that these subjects be clearly labeled on the bookshelves to assist patron browsing.