Happy Birthday, Melvil!
December 10, 2012
Public librarians use Dr. Dewey’s classification many times during the day. It is one thing to know we have the book, but quite another to be able to find it. The Dewey Decimal System makes this much easier. His system is the one that most customers are familiar with, and it is used in over 200,000 libraries worldwide. Dewey published his system in 1876. It continues to remain up to date with the 23rd revision published in 2011. Dr. Dewey did the revisions himself while he was alive. They are now done by the Online Computer Library Center, which is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service. They also maintain WorldCat, the interlibrary loan service MCPL uses.
The Dewey system is one of several classification systems. Academic libraries tend to use the Library of Congress system because it allows for easier addition of new fields in science. Some very large collections use the Universal Decimal Classification, which allows for more precise cataloging. Both are looked upon as being more complex to use than the Dewey system.
Dr. Dewey made improving education his life’s work with three areas of particular interest to him. He wanted the adoption of the metric system and established the American Metric Bureau. He also wanted spelling reform, and even shortened his own name from Melville to Melvil, and founded the Spelling Reform Association. And, of course, he helped improve the library where he was one of the founders of the American Library Association, and he founded the Library Journal. He even supported physical education and was active in bringing the Winter Olympics to Lake Placid in 1932.
Born on December 10, 1851 and living a full life of 80 years, we appreciate the contributions of Melvil Louis Kossuth Dewey.
North Oak Branch