Sunday, March 19th, 2006

Most Requested Minor Feature, The

LibraryThing is now sorting books without initial the/an/a, so a book like Shelby Foote’s The Civil War goes under C rather than T. It took a while, but it’s done now!

I’ve made a stab at foreign-language support. At present it works with: English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Welsh, Albanian, Hungarian, Tagalog, Turkish and Malagasy. The most important missing language is Italian.

At present, it’s a totally dumb process, removing definite and indefinite articles without attention to the underlying language, which LibraryThing doesn’t current track. This leaves it open to interpreting Die Another Day as Another Day, Die (German die), and is why I’ve absented Italian from the list (the article I would produce such non-books as Was a Teenage Dominatrix, I). This problem will go away when I start tracking languages.

For cataloging geeks: (1) I used the list provided by the Library of Congress. (2) Although MARC records can indicate “the number of character positions associated with an initial definite or indefinite article to be disregarded in sorting and filing processes,” I have decided not to use this information. The system needs to adapt when someone changes a record, at which point the MARC record can no longer be a reliable guide. Also, many records don’t have MARC records. (3) Unless I’m mistaken, here’s an example where language is important, even when the definitive article has no potential ambiguity: Les Bons Mots : How to Amaze Tout Le Monde with Everyday French. Right?

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