On Arranging Books by Color

When it comes to the organization of knowledge, a lot is revealed by the system of organization that’s used. For most serious academic libraries in America, the organizational system of choice was invented in 1874 by Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey (or Melvil Dui, as he liked to spell it), who was an assistant librarian at Amherst College when his eponymous system was devised.

The Dewey Decimal Classification system (or DDC) is definitely widespread, however there are some notable exceptions. The Library of Congress, for example, has its own system known as LCC. And the New York Public Library has not one, but two, arcane systems: one is the Billings Classification, a broad subject classification created in the 1890’s and recently retired in favor of LCC; the other is a fixed-order scheme arranged by the size of books.

So that’s how the pros do it. But what about the rest of us? More…

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by Hugh McLeod

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Pratt Institute School of Information
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