The Libraries proposal had a significant amount of activity early on, but the activity chart has been more or less flat for a long time. Many people who signed up are not active on the Stack Exchange network (and interest from existing users appears to be low) so the percentage is still very low.

The slightly newer Books proposal has a much more active looking activity chart, but still has a relatively low number of total commitments.

The Libraries proposal was created with the intention of bringing in the community from Unshelved Answers and that site has a large number of questions that would appear to be on topic with the Books proposal. In particular, the most popular tag is questions looking for a book title based on descriptions of plot, the design of the book, etc. (An example question similar to that was 6th on the Books on-topic list with 10 votes.)

Several of the top on-topic questions on the Books proposal appear to be within the category of the Library service known as reader's advisory which would certainly be on-topic on a Library answer site.

Of course, the Libraries proposal covers other topics related to library operations and librarianship that would likely not be on-topic with the Books site. On the other hand, comparing the off-topic questions on both proposals I'm not seeing any that would be on-topic on either proposal.

  • 3
    Over 30% of the questions on Unshelved answers are recommendations, which is really, really a bad starting point for a site. I'd reconsider the purpose of this site before going any further
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 0:45
  • 2
    I don't believe on Books future. Books, can bring a big audience but not a good one. I totally agree with Ivo. In the other hand, Libraries will be a small niche good site.
    – Maniero
    Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 12:59
  • I actually e-mail Rober Cartaino months ago about this proposal ... the issue as I understand it is that the proposals's had lots of committed users, but their formulas don't give 'unknown' users much weight towards the commitment; And due to some data sharing issues and issues with linking users across sites, they can't count Unshelved Answers users.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 1:35
  • @bigown I must say, I resent that! ;) I'd also like to point out, Books has less than third of the commits Libraries does, but is 10% further along towards going into Beta...Not trying to paint anyone black, but just looking at the numbers, your statement seems a little unfounded...
    – kitukwfyer
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 2:11

2 Answers 2


I do not agree with this merger. They serve very different purposes.

The study of the Library Sciences and professional librarians has very little to do with actual "book enthusiasts." The former is very academic and professional while the latter is more about the end-user enthusiast.

This would be like matching "veterinarians" with "dog shows". Different audiences.

  • 3
    I can't up-vote today but I need to agree. I'm trying to merge proposals with same audiences not the same topics.
    – Maniero
    Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 12:57
  • But do we even have enough users for library sciences (the science of looking up books?). In all honesty, some proposals should consider whether they'll even have enough questions on the topic.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 17:41
  • 3
    @Ivo Filipse: We will have enough to start the Library site. We have some noted experts in the field to help get it launched. That's how this is supposed be be done. But not by shoring up the numbers by combining unrelated proposals. Reaching critical mass means having enough users to ask questions and enough users to answer your question. Combining two unrelated proposals simply to increase the site-wide numbers will not accomplish that. Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 17:51
  • @Robert On further thought it seems I expressed this question poorly. I didn't intend to suggest a merger was necessarily the right solution. I like the current definition for the Libraries proposal. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have the right kind of support to pass muster under the rules of Area 51. The path to 100% just seems terribly unclear. The only thing I could think of was expanding the definition even though I would have preferred not doing that.
    – moberley
    Commented Jan 30, 2011 at 6:51
  • 1
    @moberley: The Library site will reach full commitment. That boast aside, Area 51 is designed to assure that there will be enough experts to both ask AND answer questions from day one. Arbitrarily expanding the proposals scope is not helpful if it does not add more of those targeted experts. It will only add more people to fill the empty seats, so to speak. If there comes a time where there simply are not enough experts to reach critical mass, the site will not be created until we can find them. Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 17:04
  • @Robert On reaching 100%: I'll have to trust that you may have information that I do not. On the rest: I'm aware that I asked about a poor solution for this site. I was unsure before, but am in definite agreement due to your original answer.
    – moberley
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 8:01
  • When I posed this question I wasn't sure how the discussion zone would work. I figured that even if the idea was bad someone might suggest something better. I know from reading info on Meta Stack Overflow that the proposal needs existing users to sign up, and I don't know any way to influence that myself. It's been nearly a month since the last commit (with low activity before that) and I'm concerned about being marked as inactive. To avoid that I thought maybe the proposal needed adjusting (not necessarily the particular change suggested by this question).
    – moberley
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 8:20
  • Library Science != Libraries; although some libraries have an ALA accredited MLS degree, many of the highly voted 'on-topic' questions are about dealing with patrons and programming; if I were going to ask a question about MARC or FRBR, I'd ask on code4lib or ngc4lib, not on a general 'library' Q/A site. ('Library Science' tends to include more academic and theoretical stuff than a 'library' site would include ... I'd assume I'd assume your primary audiene would be ALA & SLA members, not necessary ASIS&T (although, I am an ASIS&T member) or even ARMA.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 1:39
  • @Joe I'm not an expert on what is or isn't Library Science (I don't have any academic library education; I just work for a public library) but I was hoping to ask questions about MARC and cataloguing on this site.
    – moberley
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 4:04
  • @moberley : I won't claim to be an expert either, but I've attended enough ASIS&T meetings to know that there's enough other stuff out there that won't apply to most public librarians. (okay, maybe it's 'information science' and not 'library science', but it's kinda like engineering vs. science -- sometimes, you just want a practical solution, not to study the problem in-depth for 4 years so you can write a paper on it. When I think of 'libraries', I don't think of studies of 'information seeking behavior' and measures of 'satisficing' via berry-picking.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 4:16
  • @moberley : oh ... and for most questions on MARC, try code4lib ... it's a community of systems librarians and other programers in libraries. Cataloging's a trickier issue, as there's the design of catalog systems (see ngc4lib ), but there's also construction of controlled vocabularies, and questions about how to apply cataloging rules to items in your collection ... and that last one the type of library might be significant, as different special libraries might follow different rules.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 11:03

I personally see the connection between the 'Books' and 'Library' proposals, as the on-topic questions for 'Libraries' tended to be related to public libraries, and not special libraries, archives and special collections, or broader library science questions.

Exceptions are:

  • (-2/+8) : Is there a future for dedicated libraries inside big companies? (special libraries)
  • (-0/+1) : How should I model aggregates in FRBR, and why is that approach best? (library science)
  • (-0/+1) : What literature related or library related programs are you planning on doing at the beginning of the school year in your school library/media center? (school media specialist)

However, there was a question that was leaning towards off-topic for 'Libraries', that I would've expected to be accepted in 'Books' :

  • (-7/+1) : In your experience, what's a good site for maintaining online details of your personal book collection?

... but, as I said in my response about adding archives, I don't think it's a good idea to re-define the proposal after 300+ people have already committed. If the 'Books' people want to commit to this, and ask their questions to see if the community accepts the questions, I think that'd be a better approach.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .