"Oh the places you'll go!" - Dr Seuss:
: A study of picture book booksonomies within LibraryThing

  • Jenny Sarah Jones

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


The aim of this study was to investigate picture book booksonomies on LibraryThing with a particular focus on the ‘user warrant’ that might be revealed in the tags or tag categories that are discovered.

A quantitative research method was used to analyse a sample of ten sets of picture book tags (and their frequencies) using a categorisation model adapted from previous research yet influenced by the ‘warrant’ demanded by the tags themselves. 5,568 individual tags were applied 80,465 times within this sample- the distribution of the frequency with which the tags were applied obeyed the Zipfian Power Law suggesting that the booksonomies were a stable set of tags containing a relevant level of consensus.

Each set of tags was analysed within implicit context to the book that they related too, results were analysed both at the individual book level and across the sample. The largest single tag category across all of the booksonomies was the ‘subject’ category which accounted for 34.3% of the tags. 5% of the tags sampled were categorised as relating to ‘use’- this was further broken down into six distinct categories.

The tags from the ‘subject’ tag category were ‘mapped’ onto the relevant LCSH using an adapted model. 38.1% of the tags were matched at the 2nd, ‘almost syndetic’ level and 67.7% at the 3rd or ‘semantic level’. Tags not matched were grouped into semantic concepts and clear subject headings emerging from the booksonomies were observed.

The results revealed a clear ‘user warrant’ for the ability to apply ‘use’ descriptors to a picture book resource and evidence of subject headings emerging from the booksonomies both which have implications for designers and users of IRS that include substantial collection of picture books as well as for future researchers.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorPauline Rafferty (Supervisor)

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