On cataloguing books

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 20 22:16:53 EST 2003

--- Melissa Proffitt <Melissa at Proffitt.com> wrote:
> >Watch ISBNs, if your field for this is set up to
> >recognise valid ISBNs you may have trouble next
> year
> >as there are reports they'll be changing to 13
> digits.
> Really?  Good to know.  Fortunately this guy is not
> dumb enough to hardcode
> the length of certain fields, so there's room for a
> LOT more digits in the
> ISBN.  (Why are they doing that, by the way?  Is it
> to accommodate more
> publishers or more titles per publisher, or what?) 
As I recall from the article I saw, they are running
out of available numbers. It may alter to 12 digits
(which will suit US shopkeepers), or 13 digits (which
will match international standards) as ISBNs are an
international standard the latter seems likely. If
your software doesn't need adjusting that'll be good
for you, most library software is set up to recognise
valid numbers and use the checksum.

> >As an experiment I've started applying my
> categories
> >to my own collection to see how it works, just
> copied
> >my list of fantasy into a spread sheet and put the
> >categorties as the other axis. I was afraid that I
> may
> >end up with a lot of unclassifiable books, but so
> >that's not the case - but I've only done authors
> >beginning with A - about 75 books.
> I have surprisingly few unclassifiable ones...maybe
> twenty out of 200?  And
> they all tend to be so unique that grouping them
> with others is misleading.

I thought I'd wait to see what I couldn't classify and
see if there were any natural groups. I've thought up
one more -Associational - for books that are not
strictly speaking speaking fantasy but which relate to
fantasy books in some way. There are several novels
that aren't SF but are set at SF conventions or
involve fandom, I can't think of many fantasy examples
off hand - Ryman's "was" would be one (a bit of
magic-realism there too) and there is a YA novel
called I think "The man without a face" in which the
title character is a major fantasy author (not based
on any real author). I don't know of any examples of
Tuckerisation of fantasy fans but these could go here
too, as i suspect they exist.

a couple of other categories - Dream - a story telling
technique now thankfully little used, but the Alice
books are a wonderful example

Referential - Fantasy stories that are all about other
fantasy stories. Ryman's "was" and Maguire's "Wicked"
both refer back to the Wizxard of Oz

> There's more in science fiction because I don't have
> a lot of subcategories
> for it yet. 

I do intent to list some subcategories for SF
sometime, I think these will be easier as most SF
clearly falls into some established category.

 I anticipate the nonfiction being much
> more of a problem in
> some ways; maybe I will work out a place to put the
> Dewey decimal number,
> which the designer has already announced is not high
> on his list of
> priorities.

I can't imagine anyone not a librarian wanting to give
books Dewey numbers, but to librarians they are a way
of life, we just naturally shelve our books in dewey
order (well I do anyway)

> I'm always a little unnerved at how happy all this
> dry number-crunching
> makes me.  :)  It's just so much fun.  

You must be a closet librarian


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