Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

3 September, 2012

I Am Not a Librarian: The Conclusion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Although this little project will probably never reach a completely finished state, I’m aiming to wrap up talking about it in this post – at least for now.

After a bit of back and forth, I decided to keep a category for General Works, and forego Applied Sciences, based on an educated guess as to what sort of books I might end up owning one day. That leaves me with the following top-level:

  1. General Works
  2. Formal Sciences
  3. Natural Sciences
  4. Social Sciences
  5. Philosophy
  6. Religion
  7. History
  8. Language
  9. Literature
  10. Arts

Although some of these aren’t very applicable to my current collection, I want it robust enough for future growth. Now comes the hard part – sensible subcategories. For the sciences, it actually wasn’t all that hard – Wikipedia has good lists of the various branches of science, look at Natural science¬†for example, so I simply copied them over.

Although I ended up with ten top-level categories, this will not be a decimal system. The top-level will be identified by number, but after that the categories are identified by letter. Add an initial marker for non-fiction, and the final code will end up looking something like N-7CE-J.

I won’t go through every single category here, it would take too much space, but let’s look at Religion and History. I’ve attempted to find a balance between topics big enough to stand on their own, and topics that can be grouped roughly according to geography.

5. Religion 6. History
  1. Religious Studies
  2. Abrahamic Religions
    1. Judaism
    2. Christianity
    3. Islam
  3. Indian Religions
    1. Hinduism
    2. Buddhism
    3. Jainism
    4. Sikhism
  4. European Religions
    1. Greek Mythology
    2. Roman Mythology
    3. Celtic Mythology
    4. Norse Mythology
    5. Sami Religion
  5. African Religions
  6. Middle-Eastern Religions
    1. Mesopotamian Religion
    2. Egyptian Religion
    3. Zoroastrianism
  7. Asian Religions
    1. East-Asian Religions
      1. Taoism
      2. Confucianism
      3. Shinto
  8. Oceanic Religions
    1. Australian Religion
  9. American Religions
    1. North-American Religions
    2. Mesoamerican Religions
    3. South-American Religions
  10. New Religious Movements
  1. Historiography
  2. Archaeology and Pre-History
  3. Ancient History
  4. Eurasian History
    1. European History
    2. Asian History
    3. Middle-Eastern History
  5. African History
    1. North-African History
  6. Oceanic History
  7. American History
    1. North-American History
    2. Mesoamerican History
    3. South-American History
  8. Biographies

You can see the general idea, I think. For Religion there are a couple of categories encompassing some of the biggest currently active religions, and then geographic categories to encompass religions that aren’t universal in scope and to a greater degree limited to a single area.

In History, Eurasia is collapsed into a single super-category, to account for books that span the whole of it, and then subdivided for more specificity. That’s the general idea behind the whole system, of course, I can always subdivide a category further to get a more specific category. Hierarchy ftw, as they say. I have made no effort whatsoever to maintain equality in the hierarchy across top-level categories, because there are limits even to my madness. With the geographical division, I have tried to find the balance between purely geographical and cultural groupings – it is no accident that the Middle-East and North Africa end up next to each other on the shelf.

And this is how it goes, basically. Literature will also be divided geographically, I think, with a general literary theory category on top. Languages will be divided among major language families, and then subdivided as their genealogy goes. For the Arts, I turn again to Wikipedia for neat subdivisions – the Norwegian Wikipedia had a curious list which I quite liked, so it has both painting, music and architecture, as well as comics, cooking and role-playing games beneath it.

Like I said, this won’t ever be done, there’s always room for more subdivision and precision and clarification, but I think I am approaching something that’s usable. There are still some top-level categories to flesh out, and I want to work it all into a notation that will allow me to sort my book database accurately in the same order as they appear on the shelves – even the fiction – but I am getting there.

But for now, I’ll shut up about it.


  1. Cognratulations on having reach a goal of sorts!

    So, and I know this is the familiar problem, but how would you place, say, a collection of creation myths in this system? It’s not an academic text about religion or a descriptive text in general, but a collection wherein each text would belong to a different category. And how would you place a book that is about the Buddhist influences on and presence in Shinto — is that sorted with Shinto or with Buddhism, when it is clearly equally about both?

    Comment by Loki Aesir — 3 September, 2012 @ 09:33

  2. The collection of creation myths is one of the problems still in the system. I have contemplated leaving it simply at 5, with no further subcategory assigned, or finding a good category to insert before the Abrahamittic religions. I kind of want to keep series together, so all of the VHS-books would end up there.

    As for the other book, I would put it with Shinto, since it seems to focus on that, really. Shinto is pretty inextricably tied in with Buddhism anyway, so it’d fit right in.

    Comment by Obdormio — 4 September, 2012 @ 17:44

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