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Old 02-22-2012, 08:38 PM   #1
augur
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Cataloging and GSAFD

Hi, I'm a new Kindle owner, and a new Calibre user. As an Aspie, I love having my ebook collection cataloged and sorted by title, author, genre, etc. I am looking forward to playing with the Calibre plugin that will allow me to create Kindle Collections from my tags. But before I get that far into using Calibre, I have a lot of work to do in sorting out the metadata for all the ebooks in my library. I have been using the additional Metadata Source Plugins to connect to Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, FantasticFiction, and Webscription to assist in my desire for crowd-sourced metadata.

The problem I have found is that crowd-sourced metadata is not always accurate. A misspelling, or even a regional spelling difference, can create additional unwanted tags. For instance, some books in my collection are now tagged with either "Humor" or "Humour", or sometimes both. And please tell me, what does the tag "General" mean? What exactly is a "general" book?

To resolve this problem for my own ebook collection I want to use a standard for tag names. There are many standards available already that professional librarians use. I'm not a professional librarian myself, but as an Aspie I am likely to use something that the professionals use anyway. :-)

I have settled on the Guidelines on Subject Access to Individual Works of Fiction, Drama, Etc (American Library Association cataloging standard), commonly known as GSAFD. There is a list of authoritative genre terms available for this standard, the appropriate usage of each term is fully explained, and an example is given for each.

What I was wondering is whether there is any simple way to implement GSAFD in Calibre? My idea for implementation at present is as follows...

1. Edit the metadata for an ebook
2. Download the metadata from a reliable source, eg. Barnes & Noble
3. Compare each of the downloaded tags to the GSAFD list
4. Keep, edit, or delete tags, to have them match the GSAFD list
5. Wash, rinse, and recycle.

I currently have over 1,000 ebooks in my library. This is going to take ages! There must be an easier or automated way to do it. Any suggestions?

Last edited by augur; 02-22-2012 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 02-22-2012, 09:29 PM   #2
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I've considered doing something similar myself. I would do it as a two-step process, and it won't be quick.

1) Glance through the books to make sure the current tags are actually relevant to the books.

2) Right click on "Tags" in the tag browser panel, select "manage tags" - from there you can edit each tag name directly. It's a more efficient interface, in my opinion, for managing the actual words used as tags.

If you change a tag so that it matches an existing tag, calibre automatically merges them to avoid duplicates, in case that was a concern.

I can't think of any automated way to do it, but hopefully others will have more ideas for you.
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Old 02-22-2012, 09:57 PM   #3
augur
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Thanks for the reply, CWatkinsNash.

While I'm waiting for someone to come up with an automated way to do this, I have been re-reading a fascinating article by Clay Shirky about ontology versus crowd-sourced tags, entitled "Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags". I'm not sure that Shirky's conclusion, that crowd-sourced tags are better than a fixed ontology, is applicable to my own personal ebook library. Here Shirky is concentrating more on collections that are, essentially, publicly owned or publicly accessible. My ebook collection is my own, and is not accessible to anyone but myself. In these days of DRM and anti-piracy legislation, I may well publicize my catalog, but I will not share my content. ;-)

Therefore crowd-sourced tags are great as a suggestion only, and I like your idea above, CWatkinsNash, of verifying tags against the content of the book, but I think I need to retain ownership of the metadata for my comparatively small collection.

In practical terms, what this means is probably creating duplicate tags, but prefixing them with something, such as "gsafd.Humour" and "gsafd.Science Fiction", and using these tags exclusively for my own library, eventually deleting any tag that doesn't conform to my own standard. Once they are all processed, I can go back and remove the prefix from all of them if I choose to. Again, it would be great if there was an automated way to achieve this. I'm facing many hours of unpaid work to catalog my ebook library to a self-imposed standard. Welcome to the wonderful world of Asperger's. Haha.

Next problem: GSAFD tags only exist for fictional works, which is what it is designed for. What happens when I come across a non-fiction book? Should I revert to using Dewey's categories? Here again though, as Shirky points out, Dewey is only designed to categorize a book into a single category...
Quote:
It isn't the ideas in a book that have to be in one place -- a book can be about several things at once. It is the book itself, the physical fact of the bound object, that has to be one place, and if it's one place, it can't also be in another place. And this in turn means that a book has to be declared to be about some main thing. A book which is equally about two things breaks the 'be in one place' requirement, so each book needs to be declared to about one thing more than others, regardless of its actual contents.
So, I could just use multiple categories sourced from the Dewey Decimal System, as an authority, and compare those to the crowd-sourced tags. I could then add a GSAFD tag for "Non-Fiction", and my tag list for a particular book could end up looking like this...

gsafd.|Non-Fiction
nf.|Endangered Species
nf.|Kakapo
nf.|Nature
nf.|New Zealand
nf.|Science

My prefixes could be anything, as long as I standardize them. In the example above I have used "nf" as a prefix, meaning "Non-Fiction". Once I have processed all my books, I can remove these prefixes if I want to anyway, or they may be useful to retain in the event that I add more ebooks to my library later, and have to categorize new books using crowd-sourced metadata again.

Sorry if this all seems very wordy. I'm getting my thoughts out in here and asking for input at the same time.

Last edited by augur; 02-22-2012 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 02-23-2012, 08:45 AM   #4
lauer
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I'm starting to think I have asperger myself, since I am struggling with the very same problem in my ebook library.

The "official" sources like B&N, amazon, and the like quite often result in horribly cluttered tag sets. Misspellings are IMO a minor nuisance. However, Fantasy and Science Fiction at the same time? What else do they get wrong?

So, while I'm contemplating diving into the tag set of my collection, any pointers to some helpful plugins, apps, etc. would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:06 AM   #5
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Well, the goodread metadata plugin -- at least -- has a sort of plugboard whereby you could map any and all tags *goodreads* provides to any tag you've chosen.

Like,

"SF" -> Science-Fiction
"Anticipation" -> Science-Fiction.Anticipation
"Cooking" -> Miscellaneous

or whatever your fancy... might give you, at least, a starting point.
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=130638
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauer View Post
However, Fantasy and Science Fiction at the same time? What else do they get wrong?
Having Fantasy and Science Fiction in one book is not so unheard of. Artemis Fowl, for example, can be categorized under both (although it leans more towards Fantasy than Sci-Fi). One thing that really irks me, I've found several books (mostly romances) tagged as both "Modern" and "Historical" . None of the books featured time travel.
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:01 PM   #7
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I totally agree that multiple genre tags (and shelves in the Goodreads case) are far too heavily overused. Especially "Fantasy" and "Science Fiction" together. If a book has magic in it, it is a *Fantasy* book. Yes Artemis Fowl that means you. When I go looking for a "Science Fiction" book I do *not* expect to be reading about elves and goblins.

It is a definition I saw on an Australian TV show with a panel of well known fantasy authors, and if it is good enough for them that is good enough for me .
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:17 PM   #8
augur
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Thanks for the replies everyone. I haven't started playing with Calibre's "recipes" feature yet, PaulPosition, but I will definitely take a look at that.

I agree with Kiwidude here too, faeries are fantasy while little green men from Mars are science fiction. This is how the GSAFD describes the difference...

Fantasy fiction: Use for works that feature imaginary worlds, extraordinary creatures, sorcerers, epic quests or magic.

Science fiction: Use for works of fantasy that deal with possible though not necessarily probable events and are based approximately on scientific principles, e.g. space travel, time travel, etc. Use also for works in which mankind confronts alien cultures or environments. For works that deal with non-existent, incredible, or unreal worlds, characters, and physical principles, use Fantasy fiction.

Also, my personal preference is for less granularity. For example, I prefer to use the GSAFD's single Occult Fiction tag rather than having different tags for werewolves, vampires, and/or witchcraft. To me it's all the same and there's no point discerning between them.

Last edited by augur; 02-23-2012 at 09:22 PM.
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