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Describe your custom call numbers

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1macsbrains
Mar 20, 2015, 11:04pm Top

Not sure this was the best place to post this, but I'd like as much input as possible.

Now that we have the new personal call number field available in the LT catalog I've had to confront the fact that I still haven't designed a workable one for my library. I've thought about it excessively, but nothing seems to satisfy that is less than a dozen digits long. I would like a system that would allow someone who isn't me to put a book in the correct place on my shelves without me having to explain why The Hobbit must be shelved on the same shelf as the Iliad, Sherlock Holmes, and the works of Shakespeare. Maybe it's just not possible, I don't know.

Please tell me about your custom system so I can pilfer bits that will be useful to me.

These are the major things I am considering for my system:
* I already have tags for shelf location which I am going to keep, so I only need to code for topic.
* I have a lot of fiction which I don't like to sort alpha by author. I've been trying to sort by type/genre/author/pubdate/series
* I have a lot of manga & graphic novels which I want to sort in a totally different way than the regular fiction (based on publisher, not genre)
* I would like to try to make the number be understandable at a glance, rather than having to look up the values in a table. I hope the relatively narrow focus of my collection will make that possible.

These are examples from my working model:

Dune, by Frank Herbert: FSFHER01.01
Which translates to Fiction, Science Fiction, Herbert, 1st series (in pub order), . 1st volume in series.

Lady Knight, By Tamora Pierce: YFFPIE03.04
Which translates to Young adult fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Pierce, 3rd series (in pub order), . 4th volume in series.

Chaos: Making a New Science, by James Gleick: NSMPGLE01
Which translates to Non-fiction, Science Math, Physics, Gleick, 1st Gle name.

フルーツバスケット vol 5, by 高屋 奈月: HTYTAK04.05
Which translates to HTY) the publishing imprint 'Hana to Yume', Takaya (Author) 4th series (in pub order), . 5th volume in series. The publishing imprint is close enough for genre here, plus the imprint has matching spines so I'd want them to be together anyway.

But I feel like this is not nearly enough information. It would result in books getting shelved next to each other in an odd way. I am sensitive to keeping authors of similar styles together in the order of how I feel about them. I could add in more complexity, but that adds more digits unless I make a chart. I don't really want to make a chart if I don't have to. Plus I have no idea what to do with the outliers in my collection. What do I do with a soft non-fiction? Something like a collection of essays of people talking about libraries? If I sort the code alphabetically it may end up by the math books.

Or it's an exercise in futility.

2anglemark
Mar 21, 2015, 6:30am Top

To start with, the reason to have a classification system is to be able to find a particular book when you are looking for it. Looking at your system, it doesn't seem as it you agree with this statement?

3aulsmith
Mar 21, 2015, 11:13am Top

Actually a classification scheme is so things that are like each other (in whatever way is important to the classifier0 are near each other. They can be physically near, as in the use of classification schemes in US libraries, or they can simply be near each other on some kind of chart (like the Linnaean classification system of biology).

Generally the more precise a classification system is, the less well it works as a shelving scheme (which is why most libraries cut the Dewey number off at 6 digits, even though a proper Dewey number can sometimes go on for more than 20 digits.

So, if you want a shelving system with a small number of digits that is easy for other people to use, you're going to have to give up some precision. It's just the nature of the beast.

4macsbrains
Mar 21, 2015, 2:20pm Top

Yeah, I'm trying to find that balance -- how many digits are too many?

At the moment I already have tags to indicate which shelf something is on, but I am so cramped for space that I squeeze a book into any square inch I can, so my library is only half organized. Due to double-stacking, many of my shelves have 70-100 books on them, sometimes arranged purely by size and not topic to make use of the space. This also makes those shelf tags mutable when I move things around every time I get new inventory.

I want the system for a future set-up. At some point I anticipate a move to a bigger place, and when this happens I will not want to sort and shelve 4,000+ books entirely on my own. For others to help there will need to be some sort of guide. So I think I have no choice but to abandon the idea of something readable and go to a chart to get the gradiations that I want. I would really like to see what someone else with a big genre fiction inventory does. I know my aversion to alpha-by-author is peculiar.

5aulsmith
Mar 21, 2015, 3:11pm Top

But yours are in alphabetical order by author, just within a double genre category. If you come up with a table for the double genre, so those can be represented by double letters (or picture stickers which is what my public library does). Then you can do the series bit on a label. Your friends can get them alphabetical within genre and then you can do the fiddly bit with series.

6henkl
Mar 21, 2015, 4:01pm Top

>4 macsbrains: I am so cramped for space that I squeeze a book into any square inch I can, so my library is only half organized. Due to double-stacking, many of my shelves have 70-100 books on them, sometimes arranged purely by size and not topic to make use of the space.

Sounds familiar. I gave up all ideas about a possible future set-up.

7macsbrains
Mar 21, 2015, 6:31pm Top

>5 aulsmith: in my working system the books would end up alpha by author, to a certain extent, and that's primarily why I dislike it and haven't actually committed to using it. I tried that in an attempt to keep books by the same author as together as possible, and I thought I could deal with dissimilar authors being vaguely near each other, but it seems I find that arrangement little better than chaos.

>6 henkl: It's a pipe-dream, since I can't do much better with the space I've got, but I'm saving up for a place with more walls, since everything else is optional.

8casvelyn
Mar 21, 2015, 6:57pm Top

I've been sitting here diagramming your system on paper (kind of like diagramming sentences, but nerdier), and I'm not coming up with anything particularly useful. But I had fun trying. :)

One question, though: Are you making spine labels for the call numbers? Another reason libraries keep call numbers short is so that it can fit on a label. If you're making labels, that will solve the "not-you reshelving" problem, but not the "philosophical underpinnings of the system" problem. If you aren't making labels, you could just write out the call numbers long-form. I do this. In my system the call number for Dune is "fiction--speculative fiction--science fiction." I keep the series position in the Comments field. Lady Knight would be shelved under "young adult fiction--speculative fiction--fantasy." I do shelve alpha by author within genre, though. I can't not do it that way.

How often are other people going to shelve your books? What about browse your collection? Even if you come up with a way to quantify and classify your relative like of various authors, that system will not be completely intuitive to anyone but you. Alpha by author is intuitive in theory and practice. (Theory=people understand the underpinnings of the system; practice=people know how to put the books back correctly) Series order is intuitive both ways as well. "Shelved according to how much I like the work/author/whatever" is intuitive in theory, but not in practice, unless the shelver knows just as much about your taste in books as you do.

On a broader note, I love custom catalog schemes, as they give so much insight into how people think. There's also an element of "Why would you ever want to do it *that* way?" :) (Not directed at you personally; just at people in general.)

I suppose you could put a card in the "hole" when a book is taken out. Or make some signs like this:

9macsbrains
Mar 22, 2015, 12:21am Top

>8 casvelyn:
Your system seems pretty similar to my initial effort. I thought about using speculative-fiction as an umbrella to prevent something coming in between the science fiction and the fantasy but abandoned it because only a small percentage of my books wouldn't qualify.

I am going to make little call number tags for the books. Not spine labels exactly, but the books will get a marker. I saw a thread not too long ago discussing alternatives to labels that had some good ideas in it. I'll have to track it down later.

Everu couple of months when my incoming books are stacked in a 3-foot high pile on the floor it necessitates some warping of space time to get the books onto the shelves. I usually get one of my friends, who all enjoy organizing things, to help perform that magic with me. It's fun for us.

As for daily use, my partner's books co-mingle happily with mine since we have some overlap in our tastes. Ideally this will help him to put books back on the shelf where they belong rather than everyplace but. Also make him find them himself when he wants to read one. (Even if he knows which shelf, because he'd have to take half the books off for access he usually doesn't bother searching and just has me get it.)

On a broader note, I love custom catalog schemes, as they give so much insight into how people think. There's also an element of "Why would you ever want to do it *that* way?" --
Oh, absolutely! I feel that way about alphabetical order. I have an ongoing argument with my partner about what constitutes alphabetical order because he handles the organization of some of our other hobbies, such as the board games and the comic books, and he thinks it's the only way to go (therefore I can never find anything). He'll tell me that alphabetically 'West Coast Avengers' comics come after 'Avengers', but before 'Batman.' While I agree that that's a logical place to put them, I don't agree that it counts as alphabetical order. He'll say it's like 'Avengers comma West Coast' which is all well and good except he'll also put 'Excalibur' under X with the X-Men books which, again, while logical, is NOT alphabetical, no matter what he says. We recently got a board game that uses several themed card decks, and he argued with me that the 'Mystic Horses' deck should go under H not M. We split the difference and slotted it under P for Ponies. (Which is still not alphabetical IMO. Not that I ever even noticed any of the decks were in alphabetical order to begin with!)

Why would he ever want to do it *that* way? :)

10sturlington
Mar 22, 2015, 11:18am Top

>1 macsbrains: I don't know if this blog will be of help to you, but since you are interested in book organization schemes, you might find it of interest: http://asymmetric-library.blogspot.com/

11macsbrains
Mar 22, 2015, 6:32pm Top

>10 sturlington: Those schemes are fascinating!

122wonderY
Mar 23, 2015, 11:03am Top

>10 sturlington: Loved the last entry enough to reproduce it here:

"Thematically by title words

Fairly related to Conceptual colour order, where you order the books by the colours stated or insinuated in the title. But here you also put in categories e.g. titles that are emotions, titles that are proper names, titles that have numbers in them, and so on. Maybe you can have a section for titles that are adjective+noun (as that is very common), and subdivide them into definite and indefinite, plural and singular. As usual, the system will have to be adapted to your particular collection of books.

I tried this one, and am a little ashamed to say I gave up when I stood there with an armful of books that didn't know where they wanted to go. And another armful that weren't entirely pleased with where I'd put them. And another handful that raised their eyebrows and pointed out that their titles were intentionally ambiguous. And many categories which consisted of only 2 or 3 books."

Crazy mad about books, eh?

13thorold
Mar 23, 2015, 12:30pm Top

>10 sturlington:, >12 2wonderY:
I really liked the idea of alphabetical order based on the reversed surname (i.e. Derrida to Lopez). One of those things that you could get a computer to work out for you, but which it would be super-messy to do with any of the standard tools.

14lorax
Mar 23, 2015, 2:00pm Top

(alphabetizing your authors by their reversed surname)

super-messy to do with any of the standard tools.

Depends on what you mean by "standard tools".

cut -f 4 librarything.txt | cut -f 1 -d, | rev | sort -i > silly_sort.txt

(where librarything.txt is your TSV download) works for me, and the coreutils are pretty standard by my admittedly geeky definition. I did have to massage the file just a tad since sort -i doesn't like accented characters.

It would be acinorA to ztuL for me, discounting an author who writes only under the last initial of "A."

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