Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Melvil Dewey's Birthday!

It's Melvil Dewey's birthday! He was born December 10th, 1851 in New York. That means, if he was still alive, he'd be 162 years old today! In 1874, Melvil Dewey earned his bachelor's degree and in 1877, he earned his master's. But he's famous for something you, as a library goer, use all the time-- the Dewey Decimal System! The Dewey Decimal System is a library classification system that uses a three-digit number for main classes (such as "Earth Science," or "Dogs") followed by decimals as expansions for more detail (such as "Volcanoes" or "Golden Retrievers"). We, as librarians, assign a Dewey Decimal number to every book so that it can be located in the library and then returned to its proper place. This system is used in 200,000 libraries in at least 135 countries around the world!

Melvil Dewey is also known for other, less popular, library-related innovations: (1) the idea of the state library controlling the school and public libraries within that state, (2) the creation of hanging vertical files, and (3) The Library Journal, which we librarians still use in our profession today. As far as his personality, it's said that Melvil Dewey was "difficult" to deal with, establishing a pattern of making enemies, although he had a handful of friends throughout is life and also got married twice. Melvil Dewey died on December 26th, 1931 in Lake Placid, Florida.

Here is The Dewey Decimal Rap, which features a modern Melvil character himself, who explains the Dewey Decimal System for you!

For more, try checking out a book on Melville Dewey. Here are two you can reserve right now:

Melvil Dewey: Library Genius by Jill Sherman

Irrepressible Reformer: A Biography of Melvil Dewey by Wayne A. Wiegand

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Copyright 2009 Laura Druda