[Web4lib] Build the Open Shelves Classification
bgsloan2 at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 9 09:23:29 EDT 2008
You say that the Open Shelves Classification system is intended to be a "crowdsourced replacement for the Dewey Decimal System."
Don't you want it to be a replacement for library classification systems in general, and not just the DDC?
--- On Tue, 7/8/08, Tim Spalding <tim at librarything.com> wrote:
> From: Tim Spalding <tim at librarything.com>
> Subject: [Web4lib] Build the Open Shelves Classification
> To: "web4lib" <web4lib at webjunction.org>
> Date: Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 1:55 AM
> [Apologies for cross-posting]
> I hereby invite you to help build the Open Shelves
> (OSC), a free, "humble," modern, open-source,
> crowdsourced replacement
> for the Dewey Decimal System.
> I've been speaking of doing something like this for a
> while, but I
> think it's finally going to become a reality.
> LibraryThing members are
> into it. And after my ALA panel talk, a number of
> catalogers expressed
> interest. Best of all, one library director has signed on
> as eager to
> implement the system, when it comes available. Hey,
> one's a start!
> ## Why it's necessary.
> The Dewey Decimal System(R) was great for its time, but
> it's outlived
> that. Libraries today should not be constrained by the
> mental models
> of the 1870s, doomed to tinker with an increasingly
> irrelevant system.
> Nor should they be forced into a proprietary
> trademarked and licensed by a single entity--expensive to
> adopt and
> encumbered by restrictions on publishing detailed schedules
> coordinating necessary changes.
> In recent years, a number of efforts have been made to
> discard Dewey
> in favor of other systems, such as BISAC, the
> "bookstore system." But
> none have proved good enough for widespread adoption, and
> issues remain.
> ## The call
> I am looking for 1-5 librarians willing to take leadership
> on the
> project. LibraryThing is willing to write the (fairly
> minimal) code
> necessary, but not to lead it.
> As leaders, you will be "in charge" of the
> project only as a
> facilitator and executor of a consensus. Like
> Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales,
> your influence will depend on listening to others and
> minimal direct power.
> For a smart, newly-minted librarian, this could be a big
> You won't be paid anything, but, hey, there's
> probably a paper or two
> in it, right?
> ## The vision
> The Open Shelves Classification should be:
> * Free. Free both to use and to change, with all schedules
> assignments in the public domain and easily accessible in
> bulk format.
> Nothing other than common consent will keep the project at
> LibraryThing. Indeed, success may well entail it leaving
> the site
> * Modern. The system should map to current mental
> these will eventually change, but learning from the ways
> other systems
> have and haven't grown, and hoping to remain useful for
> some decades,
> at least.
> * Humble. No system--and least of all a two-dimensional
> order--can get at "reality." The goal should be
> to create a something
> limited and humble--a "pretty good" system, a
> "mostly obvious" system,
> even a "better than the rest" system--that allows
> library patrons to
> browse a collection physically and with enjoyment.
> * Collaboratively written. The OSC itself should be written
> socially--slowly, with great care and testing--but
> socially. (I
> imagine doing this on the LibraryThing Wiki.)
> * Collaboriately assigned. As each level of OSC is proposed
> ratified, members will be invited to catalog
> LibraryThing's books
> according to it. (I imagine using LibraryThing's
> fielded bibliographic
> wiki, Common Knowledge.)
> I also favor:
> * Progressive development. I see members writing it
> (DDC's classes, divisions, etc.), in a process of
> discussion, schedule
> proposals, adoption of a tenative schedule, collaborative
> of a large number of books, statistical testing, more
> revision and "solidification."
> * Public-library focus. LibraryThing members are not
> academics, and 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
> * Statistical testing. To my knowledge, 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?
> I have started a LibraryThing Group, "Build the Open
> Classication." Members are invited to join, and to
> start working
> through the basic decisions.
> The blog post:
> The group:
> Web4lib mailing list
> Web4lib at webjunction.org
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