Zine thesaurus-making fun

by anchorarchivist... ()

I started making a thesaurus for the zine library catalogue. I initially decided to do this simply because it will make cataloguing the Anchor Archive’s collection easier. But, as I’ve searched in vain for alternative thesauri to use for guidance, I’ve realized there is a need for an alternative thesaurus or zine thesaurus, so now I’m also making it for the world. Right now I’m making it on my own (and with input from volunteer zine cataloguers), but in the future I hope to invite my fellow zine librarians to collaborate on it.

So I guess I should define what a thesaurus is for all the non-librarians out there. It’s essentially a list of subject terms that have been organized according to their relationships with each other. The types of relationships that are shown are hierarchical ones (broader terms and narrower terms) and flat ones (related terms). For example, in my thesaurus I have the word “animals” as a broader term, “frogs” and “horses” as narrower terms (because frogs and horses are kinds of animals), and “animal communication” as a related term. You can also add “use for” terms, which refer users to the preferred term to use. For example, you might add “mammals” as a use for term for “animals,” so that when a cataloguer wants to use the subject term “mammals,” she will instead be directed to the preferred term “animals.” The thesaurus I’m making will be a standalone document that cataloguers can refer to when choosing subject terms for a zine, to find out which terms they should use and get ideas of other terms in the same subject area.

I’ve found that my zine thesaurus is not very hierarchical. There are some hierarchical relationships, such as with the “animals” example above, but most of the relationships are flat and most terms have a lot of related terms but few broader or narrower terms. It would probably be equally useful with related terms only and no broader or narrower terms.

I’m using a free thesaurus software program called THEW32. There is an open source program called TemaTres but I haven’t tried it yet because it needs to be installed on a server. THEW32 doesn’t look all that exciting but it does what I want it to do and allows you to export the thesaurus in HTML or text format.