How to help others find their favourite books.
January 27, 2010 10:57 PM   Subscribe

Help a newbie volunteer make sense of a large, unorganised pile of books, most of which aren't even in English.

I recently took charge of a project to organize my department's library- 2000-5000 books, all in French, most from other Francophone countries like Canada, Belgium, and so on. They need to be classified before they can be lent out to students, and that's where I'm running into problems.

Ideally, the collection needs to be classified according to the Dewey Decimal System in case it has to be integrated into the main library, but since most of the books are in French by French diaspora authors a lot of the sub-classifications don't help. The other option is a simple subject-wise alphabetical classification, but that could potentially be a problem as the size of the library expands (it's already spread over three different rooms.)

So I'm throwing the question to the green- go with DDC, or come up with a homebrew classification of our own? A two-tier system with DDC categories on top and our own classification below? Something else entirely?
posted by Tamanna to Writing & Language (5 answers total)
If it's got to be integrated (and presumably, by integrated, it won't necessarily all sit together in the same location), use the same system. We had a large Chinese and Korean collection in a library I worked at, and it was all integrated. We did have staff members who spoke those languages to assist in the process though.

DDC has been translated into many other languages, which may assist with making the classification a little more relevant (I'm not an expert on what the translations have entailed, others could comment on that).
posted by wingless_angel at 3:17 AM on January 28, 2010

Response by poster: I should clarify; it most likely won't be integrated, this is just a 'well, IF that happens it would be nice to have a common system' kind of thing. It's more important to have a system that works for the department even if it isn't DDC.
posted by Tamanna at 4:10 AM on January 28, 2010

In Canada, most Francophone libraries (actually, all the ones I've been to) use Dewey or Library of Congress.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:29 AM on January 28, 2010

Does your library offer a connection to WorldCat? You could see how other libraries have cataloged these same books and just copy it.

WorldCat should give all kinds of information including descriptors and Dewey or Library of Congress numbers. Someone in the library should be able to show you how to set it up so that it can most easily be imported into the library's catalog should the need arise.
posted by mareli at 10:25 AM on January 28, 2010

You can use Dewey.
The key is ISBNs and how many other libraries own these books. If you have the ISBN you can "steal" the classification number from another library. Electronic import is a real problem, but if you were satisfied with manual entry, then it would be no problem.
MeFi-email me and we can discuss it further.
What software are you using to actually store and display the catalog data?
Lots of other questions - need to know your specific situation.
posted by feelinggood at 9:50 AM on January 31, 2010

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