Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Project Managers Sought for OSC

Due to an increase in work commitments for both Laena and David new leaders are sought for the OSC project. Below is a status report of the project. Interested leaders should contact Tim at

OSC status report June 2009:

One year into the project, here is what we have accomplished so far:
-Many wide-ranging discussions were held in the LibraryThing Build
the Open Shelves Classification group and the OSC

-Optional facets were agreed upon initially as the way to handle
audience, format, and language.

-An initial list of top level categories was compiled by the end of
2008 and put out for review.

-In January 2009, LibraryThing members tested these categories by
applying them to works in LibraryThing using the ClassifyThis feature.

-In January, a brainstorming meeting was held at the ALA midwinter
meeting and was attended by librarians and non-librarians.

-In February, the feedback from the testing was used to further
refine the top level categories.

-Starting in February and running through May, small groups began to
construct the secondary levels for certain categories.

-Throughout the spring, Laena and David did outreach for the project,
writing pieces for the PLA blog and the IFLA newsletter, and reached
out to libraries in an unsuccessful search for public library data.

-In May, the current list of categories of the OSC was added to
sandbox of the National Science Digital Library Metadata Registry.

Categories with second levels in development:
-Biography & Autobiography
-Performing Arts

After working on the project for a year, we have the following recommendations:
-The project needs a steering committee structure for leadership. The
project is too large in scope for one or two librarians to manage without other leadership.

-More involvement and leadership from public librarians! They know
the intended audience of the OSC best.

OSC write up in IFLA newsletter

The June 2009 newsletter of the Classification and Indexing Section of IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) has a write up about the Open Shelves Classification project. The story is on pages 5 and 6.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

OSC now in the National Science Digital Library Metadata Registry

The top levels with scope notes are now in the National Science Digital Library Metadata Registry.

According to its website, "The Metadata Registry provides services to developers and consumers of controlled vocabularies and is one of the first production deployments of the RDF-based Semantic Web Community's Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS)."

You can find OSC in the NSDL's sandbox. The top levels are listed under concepts while their scope notes are listed under each concept as a property.

By participating in the NSDL, we both publicize the project as well as ensure that OSC will have interoperability with other controlled vocabularies. It is important to continue to update the registry as we develop second levels, change scope notes, etc. If anyone would like to have access to edit the registry, just let me know.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Biography & Autobiography Second Level Discussion

I volunteered to monitor and facilitate this second level post thread. I come with a warning label: I am not a librarian, I'm a research scientist so don't shout at me too loudly library people. This discussion has reached a bit of a standstill because I think it has addressed most of the pertinent points already so it seemed like a good time to summarise all that's been discussed so far.

Top-Level Heading and Scope Notes
Laena's scope notes: includes memoirs, diaries and other correspondence. AUTOBIOGRAPHY is a biography by the same person it is about.

1. Should title be more explicit if it is to include diaries and correspondence?
2. Not all correspondence is biographical in nature.
3. Should scope notes be refined to show what kind of correspondence would be included? (Laena: Letters of famous psychologists, anthropologists etc. usually go under topic they cover)

Second Level Grouping

Suggested options:

1. No second level field/genre grouping - everything arranged by name of subject

- Popular section in public libraries, people tend to look based on person not career
- Possibly most intuitive way

- Alpha sorting can lead to odd, disparate arrangements
- No scope for library to group according to genre should they wish to

2. Focus firstly on type of writing, secondly on genre/subject
Bio/Autobio > Bio > Virginia Woolf
Bio/Autobio > Letters > Virginia Woolf

- Not thought to be particularly intuitive or useful

3. Focus firstly on genre/field then on subject of bio

- Need to ask the question 'Does the extra categorisation of genre give added value to the library?'

Compare, for example:
Bio & Autobio > W > Virginia Woolf
Bio & Autobio > Literary Figures > Virginia Woolf

- Could a sub-classification be available that doesn't have to be used for shelving?

Bio & Autobio > W > Virginia Woolf > Biography
Bio & Autobio > W > Virginia Woolf > Letters
Bio & Autobio > W > Virginia Woolf > Journals

Other Ideas Thrown Around
- Bio & Autobio as facet. This was not thought to be intuitive and it was pointed out that Biography is a popular category in public libraries so should probably remain.
- Should there be a top-level Literature category which Biography could fall under. This was argued against because of the popularity of the category of Biography in libraries. Literature debate was moved to its own thread.

So, although there's no firm consensus, I think we are ready to move towards one. As I see it, and do go over to the category thread and disagree if you feel I'm wrong, the main question that needs to be adressed is whether or not a move away from pure 'alphabetical by subject' shelving towards a genre/field based second level would provide any benefit. While there are categories that could do with a lot of fixing, it's highly possible that this one is not one of them or, if you prefer, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I don't think we should be afraid to reach a decision that the alpha route that seems to be very widely used is actually fine.

Please come over to the thread and weigh in on that point so that we can move onto a firm consensus decisions (librarians most welcome!).

Friday, March 20, 2009

More Leaders Needed for OSC!

In order to do have greater transparency on why changes are being made, we are asking for volunteers who are willing to take on the stewardship of different top levels. These people will:
  • Read the discussions in the forum (sometimes on multiple threads) and help facilitate the conversation.
  • Monitor for when a proposed change to a level is made and see if a consensus emerges on the change.
  • Summarize the discussion on the change and the decided action here on the blog for everyone to see.
We already have a few volunteers, but we need about 35 more people.

Below is a list of the top levels and whether or not we have a volunteer. If you are interested in grabbing one of the levels not spoken for or serving as a back up for a taken level, email me at dconner3 AT gmail DOT com.

Agriculture - available
Anthropology & Sociology - available
Antiques & Collectibles - available
Architecture - available
Art - taken
Biography & Autobiography - available
Business - available
Careers - available
Computers - available
Crafts & Hobbies - available
Design - taken
Economics - available
Education - available
Family & Relationships - available
Fiction - taken
Film & Television - available
Food & Drink - available
Gardening - available
General Knowledge - available
Health & Fitness - available
History - taken
House & Home - available
Humor - available
Languages & Linguistics - available
Law - available
Literary Criticism - available
Mathematics - available
Paranormal & Occult - available
Music - available
Performing Arts - taken
Pets - available
Philosophy - available
Politics & Government - available
Poetry - available
Psychology - available
Religion - taken
Science - taken
Self-Help - available
Sports & Recreation - available
Technology & Engineering - available
Travel & Geography - available
True Crime - available

Monday, March 9, 2009

Top levels still being debated

Film & Television: Should it become MEDIA instead and include radio, journalism, internet TV, etc.? For discussion, see FILM & TELEVISION thread in the Build the Open Shelves Classification group on LibraryThing.

Fiction, Literary Crit, Drama, Poetry
: Should there be a LITERATURE top level to include all these? For the discussion, see the Build the Open Shelves Classification group on LibraryThing.

Pets: Debate on whether this should be a top level.

Humor. Is this confusing? Useful in a public library? Speak out on the thread!

Current Top Level Categories

Anthropology & Sociology
Antiques & Collectibles
Biography & Autobiography
Crafts & Hobbies
Family & Relationships
Film & Television
Food & Drink
General Knowledge
Health & Fitness
House & Home
Languages & Linguistics
Literary Criticism
Paranormal & Occult
Performing Arts
Politics & Government
Sports & Recreation
Technology & Engineering
Travel & Geography
True Crime