Saturday, May 12, 2007

Library Heck

Some days I could just smack Melvil Dewey (aka: Melvil Dui) up one side and down the other. Why oh why did the man not take format into account when creating his System? Granted, there were only three formats at the time of his invention, but Puhleeeeez!

Could he not have said to himself: "OK, if it's a book, I'll put a 1 in front of my number, for periodicals a 2, and for musical scores I'll put 3." Bingo! A Cookbook in Book format would be 1.641.5. Simple, yes? We could put new formats together in an infinite way and shelve them so that users can find them: NUMERICALLY. Number the shelves. Yessir.

We'll arbitrarily use DVD, Downloadable Audio Book, and Maps as our example. DVDs will be format 21, Downloadable Audio Books will be format 36, and Maps will be format 8.

So you're going to Italy?
21.914.5
36.914.5
8.914.5 (assuming the person is visiting present-day Italy)
The user knows to go to the 21 section of the library. Or the 8. 36 would lead to a bank of computers with a helpful assistant. None of this "now...is this a DVD or VHS?" "I can see the cassettes but not the CDs"

It even lets the user save face when confronted with the fact that 914.5 is 914.5 despite its format or reading level. After all, 21, 36, and 8 are different numbers.

What? your building doesn't have infinitely reconfigurable shelving to quickly adapt to larger and smaller sections of format? You're remodeling? You want to separate out LANGUAGE?

OK, I just made myself dizzy. I'm going to go crawl back into my library-cave now and order lovely fiction books. Books that only have to be divided by last name. Except that mysteries are pulled out all together and romances and...oh forget it. A tip of my hat to cataloging and classification workers everywhere.

And I still want to smack Melvil Dewey.

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