On cataloguing books

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Fri Feb 21 12:26:55 EST 2003

On Thu, 20 Feb 2003 19:16:53 -0800 (PST), Jon Noble wrote:

>--- Melissa Proffitt <Melissa at Proffitt.com> wrote:
>(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.

Jacob's program did this (which is how I learned that the ISBN actually had
a meaning beyond random numbers).  Very useful thing.  I'm just as happy not
to have it, but it's nice to have the function that checks the whole
>> 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.

That was my plan as well.  I have noticed a trend in the ones that don't
seem to fit a category, but so far it still defies description.

>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

I would have thought of Maguire as being more of a retelling, since it
covers the same ground as _The Wizard of Oz_ but in a different voice and
with a different basis for the story.  Similar to _Jenna Starborn_, only,
well, better.  :)  I actually didn't care for _Wicked_ very much for some of
the same reasons I don't usually like Jonathan Carroll, but I loved the
reinterpretation of the Wicked Witch of the West.  There is that one
book...great, now I can't remember the title...it has some guy from our
world who meets practically every character from classic literature that was
ever written.  The conceit is fantasy, but the essence of the story is

>> 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.

My problem is that I know this is true, but I don't know what any of the
categories are called.  :)

> 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)

It strikes me as something I could very easily discover, as opposed to
trying to define what kind of book something is.  I haven't read most of the
nonfiction we own (which isn't much) either because Jacob bought it for
himself or we inherited it, so I don't have any personal sense of how
classifying such books would be useful to me.

Speaking of Dewey classification, our Salt Lake City library system has
started the "Dewey Lecture Series" where each month they feature a speaker
and topic that corresponds to the main branches.  For March they have James
Burke coming (the guy from "Connections") for General Knowledge, then in
April for the 100's it's Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, who's done a lot of work
on mental disorders and is herself manic-depressive...her book _An Unquiet
Mind_ is wonderful, very insightful.  Anyway, they have a lot of good
speakers coming, and tickets are free as long as you go pick them up two
weeks in advance.  I think it's a clever idea.  Wish I could take advantage
of it more easily.

>> 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.

I think it's my destiny.  We were watching the remake of "The Music Man"
last Sunday (Matthew Broderick, and the kids all said "Hey, that's Mouse
from 'Ladyhawke'!") and when they got to the part about the old guy leaving
the library building to the city and ALL THE BOOKS to the librarian, I got
chills.  ;)

Melissa Proffitt

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