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Things That Don't Fit in the Current Top-Level Model

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Feb 25, 2009, 6:44am Top

I thought I'd start a thread for people to solicit help and opinions on things that they can't find a place for in the current top-level model (not as a criticism of the model itself but as a place to get advice as to where a particular subject should sit).

Edited: Feb 25, 2009, 9:02am Top

OK, so the one that's bothering me right now is JOURNALISM/JOURNALISTIC WRITING. Can anyone point me in the direction of where this subject fits? To give an example, where would you place the collections of Hunter S. Thompson's journalism (each book comprises pieces of autobiographical, biographical, sporting, political and more general journalism in fairly equal measure - they key subject linker is really the journalistic nature of the writing not the subject of each individual piece). I could cite other collections of this nature but I think you get the drift? So, where does it fit?

Feb 25, 2009, 8:51am Top

I've been wondering the same thing about WRITING in general. The closest I can come is LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTICS.

Feb 25, 2009, 9:04am Top

Suncat, I've also wondered about that and the nearest I've been able to come for the, I guess, 'CRAFT OF WRITING' stuff is also LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTICS but it doesn't feel that satisfactory ...

Feb 25, 2009, 11:10am Top

4> Why not? Writing is a use of language so the craft of writing seems a natural fit.

Feb 25, 2009, 11:19am Top

Which is why it's the best I've found. Been trying to define why it doesn't seem a great fit to me. Maybe it would be like putting Music under the sciences that study sound and hearing.

That said, LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTICS may still be the best place if these are the top-level categories we'll be using.

Feb 25, 2009, 11:25am Top

You beat me to it Suncat - pretty much what you said. I think it's because I have a personal sense of Language and Linguistics as a more 'nuts and bolts' category. Often books about writing verge more on the borderline between literary criticism, 'arts' and the nitty-gritty of language. So, as I say, the nearest for me in the current model is Language and Linguistics because it's not something that could go under Literary Criticism, in which case it would certainly be something that I would suggest is delineated at second level.

Feb 25, 2009, 11:26am Top

I always assumed craft of writing was "self help."

Feb 25, 2009, 11:34am Top

I really hate that category (self-help). I don't care that all the bookstores use it as I don't know what it means for them either.

Feb 25, 2009, 11:46am Top

I'd say "Craft of Writing" belongs in "Language & Linguistics," but that's a close call. LoC has a single top-level category that includes Literature, Language, Linguistics, and Literary Criticism, and it was always clear that "Craft of Writing" fell somewhere in the penumbra of those categories. Since OSC splits those up into a number of top-level categories (Fiction, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Language & Linguistics), it's a lot harder to say where "Craft of Writing" belongs. But since the ship has sailed on the top-level categories, we'll just have to make do.

Feb 25, 2009, 12:48pm Top

Sorry (but only slightly) for bringing in criticism of the top level categories, but wouldn't broadening the "film & television" category to something like "media" solve the journalism problem? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't found a single post anywhere defending "film & television" as it is.

Feb 25, 2009, 1:19pm Top

>2 klarusu:, klarusu,

I guess we're more or less in agreement that if a particular compendium of journalism is related to a certain topic, then that book ought to be shelved with other books on that topic. So if it's a collection of journalism about the U.S. Presidency, it gets shelved in Government & Politics. Right? The scenario you posed is more difficult, but I want to make sure we're in agreement about the simpler case.

It's harder when the journalism in question is compiled because of authorship rather than because of subject matter. Like your question about Hunter S. Thompson, I have no idea where one would shelve David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster, which is a compilation of his magazine writing. I keep going back to LoC, because that's what I know. In LoC, these books would be shelved as "Literature," no doubt about it. The problem with OSC is that it has broken down literature into two ostensibly all-encompassing categories--Fiction and Poetry--but now we've got no obvious place to shelve our personal essays and creative non-fiction.

Feb 25, 2009, 1:37pm Top

Let's not forget we're discussing two topics here: journalism as a product, and the act of producing the journalism (often a type of writing). They don't have to go into the same top level categories.

*If* we had a top level category LITERATURE, I think that would be a good candidate for journalistic writings. *If* FILM AND TELEVISION was broadened to MEDIA, that might also be a place for some journalistic writings. I'd ask, though, aren't there journalistic books that were written as books, and so wouldn't qualify under MEDIA (where I assume the written materials are things like newspapers and magazines).

As for the activity of journalistic writing, as well as other types of writing, I don't think that belongs in LITERATURE, as that label seems to be only for the product of the writing. Is there another term that could encompass both the activity and the result of writing? We let MUSIC and ART, for example, do that.

Feb 25, 2009, 2:07pm Top

I thought journalism was writing for newspapers and magazines. If a journalist wrote a book about something shouldn't it be filed wherever a book on the same subject written by a non-journalist is. (That last sentence got away from me, I hope it makes sense).

Feb 25, 2009, 2:14pm Top

I think books about journalistic writing should go with other books about writing, and the only plausible top-level category that would include these books is "Language and Linguistics." It's not an ideal fit, but it's also not totally misleading.

On the other hand, I don't think that ANY of the top-level categories could plausibly be construed to include collections of journalistic writings like the ones that klarusu and I have mentioned, not to mention collections of non-journalistic essays, or of short non-fiction generally.

I'd oppose the creation of a MEDIA category that would include collections of journalism, mainly because it would still exclude works of short non-fiction that were never published in periodicals. In my opinion, these books are read in the same manner, by the same people, and for the same reasons as Hunter S. Thompson's collected journalistic works, and I'd oppose any classification scheme that would segregate them on such an arbitrary basis.

As for book-length works of journalism, I'd say shelve them by topic: if the book is about government, it goes with government, and business goes with business, etc.

Feb 25, 2009, 2:20pm Top

-15 Are there really that many books that are composed of unrelated works of non-fiction? I can think of many books of short non-fiction stories, but they are all around a central theme (India, physics, etc) that could be used to categorize the book.

Feb 25, 2009, 2:30pm Top

>16 jlelliott:, I won't claim that the scene is burgeoning, but it definitely exists. I'll just pull a few from my library:

A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut, Mythologies by Roland Barthes, Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire (though SOME of those stories are almost certainly fictional), Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon, Signposts in a Strange Land by Walker Percy.

Barnes and Noble usually has a small section for "Essays," where you can find a lot more like this.

Feb 25, 2009, 3:47pm Top

Okay, so what about:

Children of Calamity

Feb 25, 2009, 3:51pm Top

>18 infiniteletters:, Umm, yeah, so what about it? Only 2 people have it on all of LT, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm not familiar with it. What's the specific issue?

Feb 25, 2009, 4:56pm Top

17> A quick glance at the work page for each of those shows that at least some people think they might have a place besides Essays. A Man Without a Country lists has tags for autobiography, memoir, humor, and politics, so perhaps it could fit under Autobiography or Politcal Humor. Mythologies might go wherever Literary Theory goes and Paris Spleen is apparently prose poetry.

Edited: Feb 25, 2009, 6:00pm Top

>20 jjwilson61:, You're right, of course. They *could* be classified as other than essays; but at the same time, I don't think any of them fit so neatly into the categories you've suggested. Yes, A Man Without a Country is autobiographical, but it's not quite what people have in mind when they think of an autobiography or a memoir. Barthes was a literary critic, and Mythologies as a work has *something* in common with literary criticism - except that it isn't really about literature. Baudelaire himself called Paris Spleen a collection of prose poems, but I'm afraid people will object to that designation, as oxymoronic.

Even so, I think you're probably right about how OSC will deal with this issue. I'm going to have to leave this thread soon, though, because it's becoming clear that I mostly just object to the top level category of FICTION. I think something like LITERARY PROSE would serve my tastes better, so that Vonnegut's novels would be sitting on the shelf next to his essays, where it really seems like they belong, since they're written in similar styles, and they deal with similar issues. But that ship has sailed.

*edited for spelling

Feb 25, 2009, 11:10pm Top

19: What category should it go in? That is what this thread is for, after all.

Edited: Feb 26, 2009, 11:52am Top

>22 infiniteletters:, What is this, a joke? You're one of two people on LT who has the book in your library, and you think we should classify it for you, knowing nothing about it except the title, the author, the cover art, and a four sentence synopsis? Well alright. It probably goes either in ANTHROPOLOGY & SOCIOLOGY, or FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS, or HISTORY. Depends on the viewpoint.

Feb 26, 2009, 7:01am Top

Topics I haven't found a place for (I haven't read anywhere near all the top level category posts, so maybe some of these issues have been resolved)

- General essays (In reply to 16 above, there is an anthology called Best American Essays published every year)
- Journalism (not only unthemed collections, but how to do it)
- Broad interdisciplinary works like the Daedalus issues (I suspect we wouldn't be classifying Daedalus itself, since no one seems to have mentioned serials in anything I read, but there are books that are much the same)
- Gender studies
- Belle lettre and general literary anthologies that contain essays, poetry, short stories, short novels, plays ... Look in the 808s and 818s in any public library. There are hundreds of these.

Feb 26, 2009, 8:56am Top

>24 astherest:, Gender Studies has been suggested as a subtopic of Anthropology & Sociology. I think that's a pretty good fit. It's also been suggested as a category under Family & Relationships, which I think would be pretty problematic.

Feb 26, 2009, 9:13am Top

I'm the one who suggested it under Family and Relationship, because it's near all those books in Dewey. Also Family and Relationships includes sexuality and there's a huge overlap in the GLBT studies/Queer Studies/Gender Studies area.
If "how your sexuality/gender matters in society" ended up in Sociology and only How to (how to get along with your spouse/mother/father ..., how to have sex, how to date, how to live through a divorce, etc.) books ended up in Family and Relationships, that would probably work. I wasn't a fan of Family and Relationships to begin with, so it's hard for me to understand what folks thought would go there.

Feb 26, 2009, 9:58am Top

>12 polutropon: The problem with OSC is that it has broken down literature into two ostensibly all-encompassing categories--Fiction and Poetry--but now we've got no obvious place to shelve our personal essays and creative non-fiction.

Unless, of course, they are trying to be funny. 'Humour' is another ship that has sailed.

>26 astherest: To my mind the literature of female emancipation unequvocally belongs in 'anthropology and sociology' wherever some of the other issues end up.

Feb 26, 2009, 10:35am Top

>27 abbottthomas:, True, Humour is a possibility for some books of essays. But still, it would pain me to see something farcical like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy shelved in Fiction with "real" literature, while A Man Without a Country languishes with the joke books.

It sounds like I'm just being elitist on this point. But I really do have a concern that by trying to shoehorn such works into the existing top-level categories, people will have a much harder time figuring out where to go to find them.

Feb 26, 2009, 10:59am Top

>26 astherest:, Upon re-reading the scope notes for Anthropology & Sociology and for Family & Relationships, I'm pretty convinced that your "how-to" distinction is appropriate not only for gender studies works, but for all works that could go either way as between these two categories.

You're right that the Family & Relationships scope notes say, "Includes parenthood, sexuality, raising children." But the Anthropology & Sociology scope notes say, "Includes works written from a sociological viewpoint. Use FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS for works written to help people deal with issues involving child rearing or relationships."

To me, this makes it sound as though the real intent of Family & Relationships is to be more instructional, while Anthropolgy & Sociology is meant to be more technical or academic. If that's correct, then the Family & Relationships scope notes need to be revised to make it clear.

Feb 26, 2009, 11:26am Top

>24 astherest: (and others)
Excellent questions. Where do you think they belong? And if you cannot fit them in the top levels, what is the solution? Should new categories be created? Essays? Journalism?

Gender studies traditionally go under SOCIOLOGY, but if that is not appropriate, where do you think they should go?

Feb 26, 2009, 12:36pm Top

>30 laena: How about 'Belles-Lettres'?

From Wikipedia:
However, for many modern purposes, belles lettres is used in a rather narrower sense: to identify literary works that do not fall into other major categories, such as fiction, poetry or drama. Thus, it would include essays, récits, published collections of speeches and letters, satirical and humorous writings, and other miscellaneous writings. The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd Edition) says that "it is now generally applied (when used at all) to the lighter branches of literature." The term remains in use among librarians and others who have to classify books: while a large library might have separate categories for essays, letters, humor and so forth (and most of them are assigned different codings in, for example, the Dewey decimal classification system), in libraries of modest size they are often all grouped together under the heading "belles lettres."

Edited: Feb 27, 2009, 5:14am Top

I wonder how many people would actually know what 'belles lettres' contained? The grouping makes sense but could we find a better top-level title? I was one of the first to argue against 'Literary Collections' in the top-level because, from the title, I had no idea what it contained but something more explicit and along those lines for this would work, maybe? I really didn't like the inclusion of collections of letters under the Autobiography and Biography heading because I don't see them as necessarily biographical in nature.

Something like this:

>Suitable Top-Level Heading

>> Literary Anthologies
>> Non-Fiction
>> Letters
>> etc. etc.

>>>Appropriate lower level classifications within each of the above

Maybe we need to consider adding a top-level category that would enable us to do this?

As for the 'How to' of JOURNALISM, for me, this comes under the same reservation that I expressed above about not really feeling that CRAFT OF WRITING stuff is a good fit in LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTICS. I would possibly put 'How to' of JOURNALISM under wherever the CRAFT OF WRITING stuff sits but for me that moves further and further away from LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTICS ... I would guess though, under the current model, that is where it would fit.

Feb 27, 2009, 6:41pm Top

>30 laena:

First I would broaden Generalities to include books that cover more than one top level category where one topic doesn't predominate. (You'll probably need elaborate rules like Dewey has for determining what exactly "more than one top level category" and "where one topic doesn't predominate" mean, but that can wait, I think).

Journalism is in generalities in Dewey. Someone proposed broadening Film and TV to be all media, which is another solution. How to Write and How to Do Journalism can be together, though it's currently unclear where that would be (Self help? Education? ...)

I would change the way top level literature is handled so it would more naturally include belles lettres (and how to write), but it might be easier to stick belles lettres in Generalities also. Generalities is a very useful category for mopping up stuff that doesn't fit well in the rest of the scheme.

#29 suggests a scope note change to Family and Relationships which I think will fix the Gender/GLBT/Womens/etc Studies problem.

Edited: Feb 28, 2009, 1:59pm Top

Just noticed that genealogy isn't anywhere. Were people think of putting it under history? It isn't clear from the scope note.

Feb 28, 2009, 2:20pm Top

One shelf label I noticed in my local bookshop was "Skills including driving" - maybe many "How to" topics, and possibly "self help also" couls live in a "skills" or "Skills & Crafts" top-level

Mar 20, 2009, 10:51am Top

Please check out this thread (http://www.librarything.com/topic/60594) for a link to the new OSC blog and a call for specific volunteer involvement. Thanks!

Mar 20, 2009, 12:26pm Top

There is one thing I'd like to suggest to make the whole system a bit more flexible and also simpler.
In many categories, we have 2nd levels like history, profession, mathematical methods, etc. Why not have a standard set of subcategories that can be attached wherever useful, so as to have the same place for history and so on under every category?
(The idea isn't really new. The UDC has it, about Dewey I don't know.)
ANd wouldn't it also make a good retrieval facet?

Here's a list of "aspect" subcategories that might be found useful:

Computer applications
Economic aspect
Fictional, lyrics, humor
Global and environmental
Legal aspect
Mathematical methods
Medical aspect
Philosophy of the field
Research and development
Scientific aspect
Social aspect
Technical (machinery)

As to notations, one might, for example, use the Notation for Mathematics, say MA, and attach it to every field where one has Mathematical methods, like -MA or :MA or whatever.

Apr 8, 2009, 10:30pm Top

>37 eversberg:

I actually really like that suggestion, but I think the chances of it being implemented at this point are very low.

Apr 9, 2009, 2:58am Top

It is something that comes from long experience with classification. But, in the history of ideas, the good has always to make way for the better. I'm eager to see a new approach to improve on this one.

Apr 17, 2009, 4:17pm Top

I have a question about how the top levels will be coded? There are 42 top level categories, but only 10 digits in our base-ten system and only 26 letters in the alphabet.

Apr 17, 2009, 4:20pm Top

>34 astherest:

Genealogy would probably be considered under sociology.


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