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Points of Reference

A Booklist Blog
This is the archive of the blog Points of Reference. From 2009-2012 a team of library reference experts talked about resources (books, databases, Web sites, e-books, and more) and publishing trends.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009 2:41 pm
Dewey Is Served
Posted by: Admin

Today I was browsing through Janet Clarkson's Menus from History, a fun two-volume reference set from Greenwood that offers, among other interesting bits of culinary lore (menus for a Medici wedding feast in 1368 and lunch on the inaugural flight of the Concorde in 1976; Pat Nixon's meatloaf recipe) the bill of fare for an American Library Association Annual Conference dinner held in Lake Placid in 1894. Those librarians ate well--a couple of appetizers, then not just salmon but beef and squab,  not to mention the accompanying potatoes, peas and salad, all finished off with ice cream, cake, coffee, and fruit. The menu itself was written in the form of two new-at-the-time classification systems, Dewey and Cutter; fruit is 634 in Dewey or RH in Cutter, for example. The Dewey numbers 598.6 plus 614.132 plus 536.46  stand for roast squab. If you can figure out why, congratulations, you're a Dewey expert.

deweycart1Knowing your Dewey might not count for much, however, if the Dewey-free movement gains traction. Most commonly, Dewey-free means adopting a classification system based on words, often the very broad BISAC headings found in bookstores. Several public libraries have gone Dewey-free over the past few years, starting with the Perry Branch of the Maricopa Public Library District in Arizona. The Albany Public Library is in the process of making the move. The  Franklin Public Library District in Illinois has a Web site that describes how they broke their Dewey habit and offers examples of labels, signage, alternate taxonomies, and more. Is Dewey on the road to obsolescence, like date due stamps and catalog cards?

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