Issue with Pets and Science as top level categories.
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In a number of threads people have expressed a discontent with the existence of PETS as a top level category. I do not have strong opinions about this; however, I do feel it is important that there is an open and constructive discussion about this issue. Since the PETS and SCIENCE threads are probably best reserved for those who want to discuss possible second-level categories, I made this thread to continue this discussion.
I just wandered in, but I like pets as a top level category. I don't like browsing for a "science" book about animals or wildlife and encountering a 4-5 shelf solid CHUNK of books on pet care. I've always found it clunky and awkward and the idea of getting rid of it once and for all really appeals to me.
Just the opinion of one library user.
So if I have a book on cats, which has chapters on evolution of cats and prehistoric cats, modern big cats and wild cats, all the breeds of modern domestic cats, and then chapters on care and feeding and breeding and housing and health maintenance and veterinary care of pet cats, where does it go?
I don't have a pet but it seems to me that many (not all) books about cats, dogs, snakes, spiders and so on fall clearly into either a science category or are geared towards pet owners. If I was thinking about buying a scorpion as a pet it would be helpful to walk into the library and see all the pet books in one place rather than mixed in with a pile of dry science tomes. And off-topic I gather scorpions, lizards, spiders, snakes are beginning to overtake cats and dogs as pets.
I'm still not convinced by the "but where do we file X" argument-it can be made for about any category. Make a judgment as to what it focuses on more and put one of those stick-out labels on the shelves. "See Also: Pets:Cats"
I just agree with 5, and would add that most people who want pet care books don't particularly want a book on the evolution of wild cats or a book on how horses have influenced the development of civilization (another book that could be filed in two places) and vis versa, so I'm not convinced by arguments that say they "really" belong together, because they're on the same thing. They're not, really.
Mostly I just think it's clunky. And if some majority of libraries would end up pulling it out, why not make it a top level category? If they're shelved separately only thing that says "this is a part of science" is the call numbers, and that's pretty weak.
And if some majority of libraries would end up pulling it out, why not make it a top level category?
That's not the argument that's been made by laena, who's actually building the classification, though.
Hers is "If any library might concievably want to lump things together, they should be lumped at the top-level" -- which is why Science isn't split up -- but that argument fails for Pets, since she hasn't demonstrated why no library would ever want to lump Pets with other animals when so many bookstores do so now.
I think it's a bad idea to get too hung up on the instances of books that cross boundary lines between top level categories. There will always be books that do so, and many of those borderline cases will be the sorts of things that we would never be able to plan for.
One of my favorite examples of this is actually a pets book. A few years back I had to catalog a Shirley MacLaine pseudo-memoir (the name escapes me I'm sorry to say) about her relationship with her pets. Particularly about how they had been reincarnated together throughout time. And much of the book becomes more about her paranormal beliefs than about her pets.
But I don't think we want to consider having those two subject remotely near one another in any libraries.
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