Duck Duck Book

3 – hacking the library
09.23.2004, 12:01 am
Filed under: articles

“Hacking the library” [column] / Kendall Clark,
18 February – 2 June 2004.

This excellent series of articles discusses the whys and wherefores, the ins and outs of arranging a personal collection of nonprint media or books.  The series is written by a computer programmer and appears in a periodical about xml (if you don’t know what xml is, just read it as [technical] and read on. . .), but it’s completely accessible to people who don’t get what goes on behind the scenes in a computer.  This Kendall Clark person is a very clear writer and a great explainer.  He’s like the George Orwell of computer stuff.

The introduction, “Geeks and the dijalog lifestyle,” puts the series’ recommendations in context for people who think that computers are the center of the universe, but I think you may find it interesting anyway.  The following three columns give an introduction to classification systems (with examples and very clear explanations), take the reader through a series of practical steps towards organizing a personal collection of books, and finally, provide extra information on the what how why and what on earth for of International Standard Book Numbers (or ISBNs).

Here are three reasons to read this series of articles: 

  1. Your library is fabulously organized for your own purposes, but, your partner can’t ever find anything because your system only works in your head, and now you have moved to a new apartment where you have to share shelves with each other (this article may keep you from breaking up or having to move again). 
  2. You have always wanted to organize your personal library but the task has seemed too daunting.
  3. You are curious about how institutionalized libraries catalog and classify their books, or you wonder what the difference is between “cataloging” and “classification.”

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