• China is one of the few countries worldwide to have had a relatively sophisticated, unbroken tradition of library classification for nearly two thousand years (Zhang, 2003). This may be considered a crowning achievement in the history of library and information services; yet paradoxically, China’s adherence to its literary traditions led to stagnation and a lack of progress that, by the end of the nineteenth century, had left them far behind the West.
    The twentieth century was characterised by great upheaval in China, and this is reflected in the changes its library and information services underwent during this time. Zhang, Liu and Wang (1996) cite no fewer than 8 library classification systems which were developed between 1953 and 1978 alone. Through the tumult, the Chinese Library Classification (hereafter referred to as CLC) has emerged as China’s national classification system. This paper discusses the history of the CLC, describes its current form and present usage, and evaluates its strengths and weaknesses.