Creating a Metadata Scheme for my Personal Collection

I chose five books from my collection (which is extensive). I have two works of non-fiction, two novels, and what can possibly be termed a reference work for a series of novels.

Label of element Acceptable data for the field
Author First author listed on title page
Title Title as listed on title page
Date Printed Year the book was printed
Copyright Date Year book was originally published
Series Name of series, n/a if none
Type of binding How the book is bound: hardcover, mass market paperback, trade paperback, oversized paperback, coffee table hardcover, other paperback
Area of collection Which area of my personal collection this work would be placed in: fantasy, science fiction, childrenÂ’s, romance, crafts, pets, writing, travel, cooking, gaming, mythology/religion, other non-fiction

The majority of my collection is fiction, and arranged by author. So in my metadata scheme author is the first and most important element. I do not currently alphabetize by author, but I do frequently remember last names better. So I will list authors by last name first. Title is the next most important element, as it differentiates one work of an author from another. I do not hold with the practice of alphabetizing by title in my personal collection- I organize by series or publication date because that is the way I am likely to read my books. So titles will be listed in full, and articles will not be moved to the end of the title.

The date printed further differentiates individual books: I have more than one edition of some books (such as Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic and Strata, as well as Gordon Korman’s This Can’t be Happening at MacDonald Hall). I may own older copies of these works, but will generally read the newer ones. Copyright date is invaluable in putting a series of books in order, especially once a series gets long. Terry Pratchett has written over thirty books in his Discworld series, for example. This is true of many of my favorite fantasy and science fiction authors. Series is an important element for fiction works, as many fantasy and science fiction authors write multiple series. Occasionally due to space concerns or grouping by type two series by one author get put on different shelves.

Type of binding also relates to my shelving habits. I tend to stack mass market paperbacks vertically, then fit hardcovers and the occasional trade paperback in around them on my fiction shelves. When shelving non-fiction, I often stack or shelve by subject and then by size. The binding description gives me a rough idea of the size of the book. Area of collection will help me find my books in my apartment. Cooking and gaming books for some reason end up shelved together. Craft books are currently in my bedroom with my craft supplies. While the exact shelf location may change move to move, this more general description will help me find my books.

Were I to expand this system, I would begin by adding place of publication as an element, as some of my Terry Pratchett books are British editions (the same holds true for my Harry Potter collection). I may also want to add edition, although in my case publication date and copyright date may be sufficient. Later editions of fiction works sometimes fix editorial mistakes or add material, but this is rare.

I would also add a pseudonym field. Amanda Quick is the same author as Jayne Ann Krentz and Jayne Castle. There are a few other authors on my shelves who have done the same thing, and this will allow me to group all works by the author together if I choose to. I’ve also considered authors who have multiple names but not pseudonyms (such as female authors who married mid-career). I’m not sure this is something I need to worry about, or make authority cards for- most authors these days try to write under one spelling of their name (and certainly one name) in the interest of keeping and not confusing fans. The People of Pern made me realize the importance of illustrators. An illustrator or photographer field (possibly just ImagesBy) would allow me to acknowledge such a contribution to a work. The issue of editors will come up in my collection- I do own a few anthologies. I would leave the author blank, then file the book by editor or subject.

Adding a location element would help me keep track of where books are, but until I get settled in one place for years, the order on shelves will inevitably shift each time I move. I would also like a field for specifying if a book is unusual in some way, such as signed (as in Thief of Time) or rare(in the case of The People of Pern). A notes field would accomplish this.

Using the non-expanded version of my metadata scheme, I have cataloged my five books.

Author Quick, Amanda
Title Wicked Widow
Date Printed 2000
Copyright Date 2000
Series Vanza
Type of binding Mass market paperback
Area of collection Romance

Author Bartlett, Patricia
Title The Hamster Handbook
Date Printed 2003
Copyright Date 2003
Series n/a
Type of binding Other paperback
Area of collection Pets

Author Muppet Workshop, The
Title The Muppets Big Book of Crafts
Date Printed 1999
Copyright Date 1999
Series n/a
Type of binding Oversize Paperback
Area of collection Crafts

Author Pratchett, Terry
Title Thief of Time
Date Printed 2001
Copyright Date 2001
Series Discworld
Type of binding Hardcover
Area of collection /td> Fantasy

Author Wood, Robin
Title The People of Pern
Date Printed 1988
Copyright Date 1988
Series Pern
Type of binding Coffee table hardcover
Area of collection Fantasy

None of the books I pulled had different printing dates versus copyright dates. I think this is due to a small sample size. The last book was the hardest to catalog. It is a book of portraits of characters in Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels, along with written information. The book lists Robin Wood as the first author, however I know for a fact that she is the illustrator, and Anne McCaffrey wrote the text. If I had a separate images by field, I would list Robin Wood as the person who produced the images and Anne McCaffrey as the person who wrote the words. However, in this simplified system, I had determined to use the first name listed on the title page as the author. The book is also more of a reference book, but it is one for a fictional universe. So I shelve it with fiction.

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