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lainchan archive - /lit/ - 4900

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How would you manage a big physical public library so that the books can be found by various "search terms" in a user friendly way?
For example, if you order the books alphabetically by author it will be hard to search for books about a certain subject; if you sort them by subject it'll be hard to look for a specific author. Same for text type (short story, novel, poetry), year, country of origin, etc.

I thought of color codes to be put on the book's spine. For example one could take Dewey's classiffication (1), which assigns to every book a number that codes some information about it, and assign one color to every 0-9 digit so that 3481 is, say, red-black-green-blue; so put those colors on the book's spine. That way you can search for some specific trait without taking them off the shelves one by one. The downside is that it's a lot of work if we're talking about ~10.000 books.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dewey_Decimal_Classification

inb4 calc sheet. I want to keep it simple, still I like the idea of a physical catalog.


Honestly, the best way is probably an electronic catalogue.

Determine what is the most likely query, which is probably subject. Physically organise the books by subject, and by author within a subject, then have computers available with a more featureful search available which returns shelf locations.


The reason I say subject is probably the most useful , rather than something like author, is because there are two types of people who come to a library: those who know exactly which book they want, and those who want a book on a certain topic. For the former group, basically any consistent organisation system works, for the latter only organisation by subject does.


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You're right, but I'll add a third type, the one who's doing an investigation and wants something like "Italian books about architecture written in the 80's" or "I want to read something antique, what are your oldest books?". What I'm looking for is a book management system for the three types, or at least to see how far I can get with that idea. There are some liberties one can take, like supposing that if you're looking for books about gardening you don't care about who the author is, and things like that. The hardest part to me is that the easiest it is for the reader to find a book, the harder it is for the librarian to put it in its place when it's returned.

Thanks for your input.


i worked as a librarian for multiple years and can't think of a good way to improve on the systems already in use, honestly (at least on the physical side of things; library software is almost always horrible horrible, and any suggestions to use something better is denied because the peeps in charge are all in their 60s and Know Best, so you're stuck with using failing, 15-year-old machines running xp to run a laggy, constantly-timing-out remote desktop into a virtual system halfway across the globe running windows 8.1 and this garbage: https://www.iii.com/products/polaris )

on the physical side of things, though, we had fiction sorted by author and non-fiction sorted by topic, as those are how just about everybody looks for them. we also had genre tags like you've described in the fiction section to make things a bit easier for people scanning for that and, just as i was leaving, were in the process of giving every book a unique rfid tag, meaning a book could be scanned for on a shelf with a quick gun once-over: impossibly helpful when looking for misplaced books.

also, the two biggest threats to a well-organised library are thieves and highschool shelvers who purposely put things back in the wrong place to finish up more quickly, with third and fourth going to the homeless people shooting up heroin in the bathroom and then swapping things around at random and fricking bed bugs coming in through the book drop.

bed bugs; just ugh X_X


Mark the spine of each of your books with a number, and arrange them accordingly. Create a spreadsheet with the number you have assigned to each book, along with title, author, and subject matter. Then just search the spreadsheet to find books.