Checkitout: Interpreting & Inputting Data

We’ve been working on Checkitout (our discoverability tool for libraries) for a while now. We’ve designed an algorithm, a logo, and we’ve given it a name, but what comes next relies on your input.

Checkitout, when fully implemented, will raise awareness of Canadian content within library systems (or lack thereof). But, to make these meaningful recommendations for patrons, we need information on your books. Information you would never supply in your metadata (though how amazing would it be if you could specify tone, mood, etc?).

We have instructions on how to enter information through CataList here, and you can also provide information in bulk using our publisher template–but while we have tried to include keywords that will apply to most of your books, there are always those that defy categorization. Here is a quick list to help you interpret some of these terms, in case at first they don’t seem to apply.


What the book is trying to convey to readers.

Positive – Those warm, feel-good, cerebral stories that make you want to sit near a cozy fire and just bask in happy-endings.

Negative – Dark, brooding, hopeless tales that are meant to illicit fear and well, loathing.

Lighthearted – Sometimes terrible things happen in stories, but are meant to be taken a bit tongue-in-cheek. Even if the subject matter can be a bit heavy, if readers are meant to have a laugh, you may wish to check this box.

Serious – Books that are meant to critique or thoroughly explore social issues or mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.


What the books is trying to elicit from readers.

Dark – Morbid, chilling, spine-tingling stories that go bump in the night (and will probably keep your readers sleep-free for a while).

Happy – Comedic, silly, and/or perfect stress-relievers.

Hopeful – Terrible things happen to good characters, but books that focus more on the triumph of the human (or mythical being) spirit can find a descriptor here.

Sad – Tear-jerkers, or any story meant to make your readers shed tears/experience feels.

Suspenseful – Whodunit? If your reader has to wait 300+ pages for answers, or can cut the tension with a physical object, choose this one.

Main Conflict

They say there are only four stories–we stretched it out to 6 (mostly to better encapsulate YA fiction).

Person vs. Person – Hero vs. villain, protagonist vs. antagonist, teenager vs. that annoying high-schooler who is just out to make life terrible. Adult vs. that same high-schooler ten years later.

Person vs. Self – Internal struggles–i.e when the monster within emerges and your protagonist’s own worst enemy is…themselves! :0

Person vs. Society – Themes of assimilation, alienation, or even disillusionment–whatever is reflected in that mirror these stories hold up.

Person vs. Nature – Sometimes the world is just ending. Sometimes what it means to be human transcends societal construct or an internal battle. Sometimes you just need to choose this if your books show any of this.

Person vs. Supernatural – Humans vs. an army of magical beings? Or alternatively magical beings fighting amongst themselves? This is where literal interpretations come to be.

Person vs. Technology – Artificial intelligence, dystopian futures, philosophical debates pertaining to an over-reliance (or not enough reliance?) on machines.

Narrative Voice

First Person – Character as narrator (I, me, mine)

Third Person – Omniscient narrator (They, it, he/she)

Multiple Persons – Told from different viewpoints, featuring the narration of more than one character

Protagonist Type


Adult – Human/humanoid (including supernatural beings) over the age of 20

Child – Human/humanoid (including supernatural beings) under the age of 20

Animal – Any living being of non-human or non-humanoid origin

Inanimate Object – Any stationary physical object that is of non-human/humanoid origin

Protagonist Gender




Androgynous – undisclosed gender or gender-neutral (also use for multiple protagonists/ensemble pieces).

If you still have questions of how best to interpret these terms to fit your books, please feel free to reach out to our Marketing & Sales Coordinator!


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