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Open shelves?

Build the Open Shelves Classification

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1echaika
Jun 1, 2009, 12:21pm Top

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My books so far, Language the Social Mirror, 4th ed., Linguistics, Pragmatics and Psychotherapy, and Understanding Psychotic Speech: Beyond Freud and Chomsky are based on my training in language analysis as a linguist, a psycholinguist, and sociolinguist. However, this doesn't begin to tell people the breadth of what these books cover. Language is the most human thing we do, and all cultures, even those we might think primitive, engage in conversation all the time, not only to impart information, but also to bond with people, to maintain social status, to control social groups so that they function in an orderly way. How we do these things and why we speak as we do are intensely interesting, especially since we are largely unaware of what we and others are doing when talking. That is what all my books are about, and all are written in jargon-free narrative so that anyone from specialists to the casual reader can enjoy them -- and benefit from them.

2BarkingMatt
Jun 1, 2009, 12:37pm Top

So what has this got to do with the "Open Shelves Classification System"???

3AnnaClaire
Jun 1, 2009, 1:51pm Top

I think the OP is just plugging his/her/its own books.

4BarkingMatt
Jun 1, 2009, 1:57pm Top

Yeah, but with her being a newbie having listed 600+ books, and in light of the new "Assume Good Faith" policy, I'm being nice about it. Maybe she's just not aware she's not supposed to do that.

5br77rino
Edited: Jun 4, 2009, 9:05pm Top

I flagged it for abuse as "commercial solicitation." But it would be better if we could just flag this whole "topic" and remove it. I came here to find out about "Open Shelves", as I'm sure many have before me and many will after.

6TLCrawford
Jun 5, 2009, 8:41am Top

It does read like an ad but I took it as a poorly written challenge to the current OSC classification scheme. Where would this book be placed? Frankly I have been very disappointed with OSC after it began to look more like a bookstore shelving scheme than a library classification system.

7bertilak
Jun 5, 2009, 9:15am Top

#6: TLCrawford:

Agreed. OSC seems to have derailed a long time ago.

Its classification scheme reminds me more and more of that described by Borges: "These ambiguities, redundances, and deficiences recall those attributed by Dr. Franz Kuhn to a certain Chinese encyclopedia entitled Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. On those remote pages it is written that animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the Emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) those that are included in this classification, (i) those that tremble as if they were mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair brush, (l) others, (m) those that have just broken a flower vase, (n) those that resemble flies from a distance."

8polutropon
Jun 5, 2009, 11:36am Top

>7 bertilak:, I think that's a pretty harsh comparison. I think that some good progress was being made for a while there, until (a) too many cooks in the kitchen, and (b) radically different expectations about what the categories were supposed to do caused the project to stall almost entirely over the past couple of months.

>6 TLCrawford:, Would you mind elaborating on (a) how a "bookstore shelving scheme" differs from a "library classification system," and (b) how the former is objectively inferior to the latter?

9jjwilson61
Jun 5, 2009, 9:10pm Top

I think the basic theory behind OSC was the more cooks the better. Maybe the lesson is that subject classification isn't like Wikipedia.

10timspalding
Jun 6, 2009, 12:59am Top

I think the basic problem is one of communication and leadership models. It probably needs to be rebooted. I don't deny it's a hard problem.

11astherest
Jun 6, 2009, 9:19am Top

8:

A bookstore shelving system doesn't care if you get the book you're looking for as long as you walk out of the store with a book. So the categories are broad and set up for browsing. Also, a bookstore usually has more than one copy of book, so if it would fit in more than one category, it puts copies in all possible categories (and then presumably tracks which category it sold the most copies from so it can move all the copies over there)

A library system has traditionally tried to do two things. First to classify all knowledge. If I invent a religion tomorrow, there's a place to put it in the Dewey Decimal system. (This hasn't worked as well for science and technology, but, still, that's the philosophy behind it.) Second, it has tried to put that knowledge into a system where browsing the shelves allows you to learn something about the topic. So if you don't know anything about engineering at all, you go to Dewey 620 and there are basic overviews of engineering. After you learn some of the background and vocabulary, you should be able to wander down the shelves and get more specific books to answer you questions.

Finally, it is relatively easy to move books around in a bookstore. In a library, once the book has a class number it generally stays there for the rest of its life.

Here's what I learned from this project:

If you want a library system that classes all knowledge, has one place for any particular subject, and allows browsing to be an educational experience, you need experts in various fields working on it. Too many cooks, especially opinionated amateurs, are really unhelpful.

BISAC is not designed to have one book in one place. Libraries generally consider this a necessity, because they do care if you find the book you walked in looking for. If you want them to use a classification system that doesn't do that, you're going to have to unsell them on one book/one place first.

12TLCrawford
Jun 6, 2009, 11:47am Top

#11

You summed it up very nicely.

13pivy
Jun 6, 2009, 11:08pm Top

>A bookstore shelving system doesn't care if you get the book you're looking for as long as you walk out of the store with a book

I disagree. I spent a number of years working for bookstores before working for libraries, and it is very important to bookstores if you find the book you're looking for--if you leave dissatisfied, even if you bought something that one time, it's less likely that you'll return in the future. A bookstore is not going to cut off its nose to spite its face.

>Also, a bookstore usually has more than one copy of book, so if it would fit in more than one category, it puts copies in all possible categories

No, it doesn't. It may feature books on display, or put them in a "bestseller" area if they make the NYT list or comparable, but a book is assigned one shelving area classification, at least at all the stores I worked at.

>it is relatively easy to move books around in a bookstore

As someone who spent a week working 11pm until 7pm just to 'easily move books around," I'm going to have to disagree. Shifting is shifting, no matter what type of building you're in.

>In a library, once the book has a class number it generally stays there for the rest of its life.

Practially, perhaps, but that's more of a personnel and staffing issue than a theorectical one. The DDC, for example, has upgrades, and libraries are supposed to reclass accordingly. It usually doesn't happen because they lack the manpower and time, not becuase of a philosophy that "books are supposed to stay in the same place."

>BISAC is not designed to have one book in one place.

"BISAC Subject Headings facilitate consistent shelving and merchandising of similar material in your store. " (from the BISG website, BISAC FAQ).

14astherest
Jun 7, 2009, 8:44am Top

13:

>it is very important to bookstores if you find the book you're looking for

In a library I go to the catalog, see if they have it, see if it's in, write down the call #, go to an exact shelf location, and get my book. In a bookstore I get sent to a section and am told to browse through hundreds of books (except for the local independent, where staff goes to the shelf with me and does the browse for me). If they care, it's not easy to tell.

>As someone who spent a week working 11pm until 7pm just to 'easily move books around

And what did that involve? And how many did you move? To move a single book in our library it has to be retrieved, reclassed, the catalog record gets tweaked, it gets relabeled (which involves laboriously removing the old labels), and it has to be reshelved. It's generally not available for two weeks and involves 3 or 4 staff members with varying skills.

>The DDC, for example, has upgrades

Dewey makes it a point to stay as stable as possible, which is why the 200s are a mess. Open Shelves was supposed to be easily extensible. A lot of the discussions here ended with ideas like "libraries can add that or not later". Might work in a bookstore where the stock changes over, but very bad idea in a library.

>BISAC Subject Headings facilitate consistent shelving and merchandising of similar material in your store

I suspect if it is consistent (it doesn't look that way from the outside), it's because the publishers assign the books categories where they want them in stores and the stores follow the publishers lead. We had a lot of trouble in the test assigning what were basically BISAC top-levels to random books. Perhaps Tim could offer the BISAC people a test of their system on LibraryThing so they can see how readers think about the books.

15LOC
Jun 17, 2009, 6:20am Top

HOW CAN I READ BOOK FORM LIBRARY THING?

16jjwilson61
Jun 17, 2009, 10:57am Top

You can't. This is a site for cataloging books not reading them.

17TheIronRose
Jul 10, 2009, 8:59am Top

>14 astherest:
"Perhaps Tim could offer the BISAC people a test of their system on LibraryThing so they can see how readers think about the books."

Perhaps it would be more useful to START by looking at how readers think about the books - work from LibraryThing's existing tag system to come up with categories that make sense for dividing them up, instead of trying to shove them into predetermined categories.

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