Tag Archives: classification

LibraryThing’s OSC

I’ve been meaning to write something about LibraryThing for awhile; it’s a very cool site that brings together people who share an interest in captivating stories. How to find them, those who read them, the ways we catalog and organize them, and simply appreciating them.

LT is self-described as “the world’s largest book club”. That may be so, as it is undeniably a social networking site connecting readers and librarians and publishers the world over. The vast amount of members connecting through the interesting libraries, friends, groups and comment options to which one can subscribe enable limitless interactivity with members and their representative collections. This would be LibraryThing’s strength.

LT is countering this strength by embracing a new challenge. It is seeking to replace, gradually, the Dewey Decimal System by developing a scheme called the Open Shelves Classification, a modern, collaborative, and free organization of published works. Certainly it is an ambitious, long-term project requiring great innovative thinking, though it’s not meant to be the end-all-be-all solution for classification but rather simply a newer, better method to be replaced by future classifiers.

I have no doubt that LT will summon the people power to think out and deliver such a lofty goal; indeed, I think it should be attempted in the old tried-and-true interest of simply seeing if it can be done. I do have, however, a slight pinch of skepticism which I admittedly cannot yet find the source. Maybe it’s because LT has got such a good thing going already. Is it trying to be everything for book fans too quickly? Has it developed a strong enough membership of librarians/organizers/catalogers/OCD-ers to lend sufficient and adequate input for achieving such a goal? Can being too collaborative actually prevent the OCS from taking flight?

Since this is an experiment, I suppose that my questions will be buried within the OCS pudding that will eventually manifest itself. All in all, I like the audacity LT promises with itself in simply being an experiment. I think that’s where where the success is seen…asking questions and seeking answers…not necessarily the answers you want to see, either. See, librarians can be scientists too…right?