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Politics, Political Science, Current Events

Build the Open Shelves Classification

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Edited: Jan 24, 2009, 2:24pm Top

Bookstores often confuse all three of these categories.

My first thought was that politics isn't a science, so it should be called political philosophy. Machiavelli's Prince and Plato's Republic could be labelled political philosophy or philosophy.

A quibble, maybe, but the problem grows when I consider politics v. political philosophy v. political science v. current events. How long does an event remain current? Does politics mean commentary on the issues of the day? Or is it about the everyday practice of politics by politicians, how government functions, and such.

Jan 24, 2009, 3:10pm Top

Surely politics comes under sociology?

Jan 24, 2009, 4:56pm Top

This one confuses me, too, deniro. I would say there's a substantial difference between works of political philosophy or theory and the types of social commentary that are political in nature. The latter might fit in a broad sense under Sociology, as Noisy suggests, but I'm not sure. What difference is there between V.I. Lenin and Ann Coulter beyond idealogy and time? It's probably best to default to the user experience, which I think leans toward Lenin under philosophy and Coulter in a Current Events / Sociology area.

Jan 24, 2009, 5:06pm Top

I don't think sociology is applicable here.

Jan 24, 2009, 6:08pm Top

On another thread I suggested that Current Events be combined with History since the former will become the latter after enough time passes and libraries don't really want to change the spine labels when that happens, do they?

Jan 25, 2009, 8:16am Top

>5 jjwilson61:. This make sense to me, I have a lot of old Current Events and tagged it both politics and history

Jan 25, 2009, 8:54am Top


That depends on whether you think that History is just things that happened long ago or something a bit more than that. If you look at History as "the scholarly study of the past" then a pile of newspapers don't suddenly become history because they are quite old (although they are extremely good primary sources for the historian).

Nor, for example, do I think The Memoir of the Duke of Wellington is History because it happened way back in the past. It is still a memoir (which we all kind of agree gets lumped with the biographies and autobiographies).

As well as my personal dislike of using History to encompass such works there is also a more practical one. Take political diaries and memoirs. Today we might put Tony Blair's (or Bill Clinton)'s memoir in Biographies, Autobiogs and Memoirs. At some future date you would have to recategorise memoirs when they pass far enough back in to the past for people with your mindset to consider them history.

Same for a current events. Although it is a seemingly easy category to visualise. Surely it would be a nightmare to administer. When do books get recataloged and moved away from current events and into mainstream history. What happens to those current events which turn out to have no historical significance - where do they go? It is for that reason I would be against current events being a category at all. If a library wants to have a current events shelf they can do, however they would have to use something other than the proposed OSC to do it (the librarians probably know what new acquisitions are about current events). Also current events can be culturally specific. OK some are of world importance, but others not so much. For example if there is a book written about the very recent Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross controversy it could quite easily be considered current affairs in Britain. But almost everywhere else it probably didn't even register on people's perceptions.

Jan 25, 2009, 11:19am Top

I was arguing for Current Events and History to be combined just so you wouldn't have the problem with relabelling books. But do you really think that a book about Katrina written today will be enough different about a book about Katrina written 50 years from now to belong in different categories? And if you wouldn't put it in a History & Current Events category, where would you put it?

Jan 25, 2009, 10:58pm Top

I might put Katrina under hurricanes, which comes under meteorology, which is undoubtedly under science.

Jan 27, 2009, 9:52am Top

-9 Unless it was about the political or social implication of Katrina, right?

I tend to think that Politics (as in discussion of political bodies and the like) is different from Political Science (academic theory about the workings of political bodies).

I don't think Current Events should be a topic - every "current event" is composed of something else (politics, war, social movements, natural disaster, etc) which would be a better and more lasting designation.

Finally, I agree that History is not just anything old. History is the retelling or analysis of past events. To me, a book about Katrina published around the time of Katrina isn't a history book, not now and not in the future.

Jan 27, 2009, 10:08am Top

I don't really see the distinction. Perhaps this is one of the academic distinctions that has no place in this new populist system. You could just as easily say that every historical event is composed of something else (politics, war, social movements, natural disaster, etc) should we eliminate the history category?

Jan 27, 2009, 3:58pm Top

The distinction between what and what?

Jan 27, 2009, 4:16pm Top

Between works on historical events and current events.

Jan 28, 2009, 12:34pm Top

Ah, I made a bunch of distinctions :o) To me there is pretty much no similarity between those two groups of books. But then again, I don't really think "Current Events" is a real category. I can see why bookstores or libraries might put a display of books that are currently relevant out, but I would never use it as a category (especially a top-level category) for organizing books.

Edited: Jan 28, 2009, 1:32pm Top


Thinking about Katrina (or about the 1938 hurricane in the Northeast U.S., which has a fairly recent book, Sudden Sea: the great hurricane of 1938), I might still stick them under hurricanes even though they are mostly history or about social implications. What happens to the earth, including human beings, when a big natural disaster strikes? So, I start off with science.

Jan 28, 2009, 1:45pm Top

Does a book about a big storm that causes a dam to burst and flood a town get classified under metereology or technology? I think that books about events are often about so many aspects of the event that it is hard to find an place for them. I also think that some people like reading about events and would like to browse for them and wouldn't appreciate having to go to the appropriate earth sciences section for natural disasters (meteorology for hurricanes, tectonics for earthquakes) or sociology for true crime, etc.

Jan 28, 2009, 2:18pm Top

My response on Katrina is based on where I would put books in my own home library, and not necessarily where I would put it for other people. Thinking about the 1938 hurricane, I would want all books about it classified together including current events books from 1938 and 1939, and the more historical books dating from the 1950's to present. I also would want books solely about its effect on New England to be shelved next to the ones solely about its effects on Long Island.

#16 - I am still thinking about your big dam burst, science/meteorology, technology/dams, vs current events/history. If you obtain a book written quickly after the disaster, the author may not have known whether the real reason might have been improper building of the dam who had contributed heavily to the political comapaigns of local politicians.

Feb 2, 2009, 1:46pm Top

Greetings! David and I have been busy compiling and analyzing all your comments, and a post with new top levels is forthcoming!

In the interim, take a look on Thingology (http://www.librarything.com/thingology) at the summary of the OSC meeting we had in Denver last weekend.

To clear up some confusion, take a look at how facets/formats and categories/call numbers will be organized (this was determined months ago by this group):

The first letter is audience (A, adult, Y, young adult, C, children's) The second letter is format (B, book, A, audio, G, graphic-novel, etc.) Other facets could be for whatever else needs to be called out—language, special collection, etc.

And so you have

AB 123.321 - Lost Moon
AA 123.321 - Lost Moon in an audio format
AG 123.321 - Lost Moon the graphic-novel
CB 123.321 - Goodnight Moon (children's book)

A library that had no childrens' books would ignore the first facet. A library entirely of Braille books would ignore the second. A library that wants to put all graphic novels together in one area may do so if they wish, or interfile them. Same with CDs, Audio books, etc. Facets allow for this flexibility.

Edited: Feb 23, 2009, 12:26pm Top

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