Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cataloging: or why librarians love Melville Dewey


Melville Dewey
Okay, librarians have a reputation for following rules.  How else would we be able to find books, DVDs or audio books?  The public doesn’t understand that Mr. Dewey and his cataloging system takes us only so far and then we start bargaining and, on rare occasions, arguing.  Mr. Dewey would frown on the amount of creativity that sometimes creeps into cataloging.  Here are several examples that may never be decided to everyone’s satisfaction or comfort level:


Books on famous gardens appear in both the 700’s (art and architecture) and the 900’s (travel) –be happy they aren’t also in the 600’s (gardening, pets, cooking, etc.)  


Should a book detailing the London known by Dickens be on the shelf next to a London travel guide? Where would you place a memoir of a year living in a foreign country?  Biography or travel literature? 

       
Due to the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, those books appear in both the travel section and a more specific U.S. history classification.


There is not enough space on any blog to describe the various ways to catalog Shakespeare and confuse everyone searching for a regular version, annotated version, graphic version, or a version plus criticism


If an author has written 57 mysteries, should his one novel sit alone and forgotten on the fiction shelves? Perhaps this non-mystery shares the same characters as the mysteries.


What makes a book a mystery?  Does it require a dead body or just a puzzle to be solved?


Science fiction vs. fantasy vs. dystopian? Please...


The 920’s are the place where collective biographies go to be ignored and forgotten.


Although I could continue this list of the vagaries of cataloging, the answer is fairly easy.  The books should be placed where the public expects to find them.  If you think that clarifies the issue, guess again.

- S. Bakos
Where's That Book?