Open Shelves Classification

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About the Project

On July 8, 2008, Tim invited LibraryThing members to "help build the Open Shelves Classification (OSC), a free, "humble," modern, open-source, crowd-sourced replacement for the Dewey Decimal System." You can read more from the initial announcement here.

The OSC will be:

  • Collaboratively written

The OSC itself should be written socially--slowly, with great care and testing--but socially. See the Build the Open Shelves Classification group.

  • Collaboratively assigned

As each level of OSC is proposed and ratified, members will be invited to catalog LibraryThing's books according to it. Using LibraryThing's fielded bibliographic wiki, Common Knowledge.

And include:

  • Progressive development

Written "level-by-level" (DDC's classes, divisions, etc.), in a process of discussion, schedule proposals, adoption of a tentative schedule, collaborative assignment of a large number of books, statistical testing, more discussion, revision and "solidification."

  • Public-library focus

Academic collections, being larger, are less likely to change to a new system. Also, academic collections mostly use the Library of Congress System, which is already in the public domain.

  • Statistical testing

As far as we are aware, no classification system has ever been tested statistically as it was built. Yet there are various interesting ways of doing just that. For example, it would be good to see how a proposed shelf-order matches up against other systems, like DDC, LCC, LCSH and tagging. If a statistical cluster in one of these systems ends up dispersed in OSC, why?

Who is involved

The OSC Project is a collaborative effort by LibraryThing members. As Tim announced in this post, the project will be coordinated by librarians Laena and David.

How to get involved

  • Add to this wiki. The wiki is where the work of the group is documented and ideas are tested.
  • Check out the Top Priorities section below to see what we are focusing on currently.

Top Priorities

Other Areas of Work

Reference Material

Visual Maps and Relationships

Thingology Blog Posts about Open Shelves Classification

Listing of Thingology Blog Posts about Open Shelves

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