|Title:||The Enduring Qualities of Dewey
|Author(s):||Young, Heartsill H.
|Abstract:||It has been many years since Melvil Dewey's Decimal Classification
has been discussed before a group such as this. In the nineteenth
century, book classification was a controversial subject, and all
librarians were eager to learn about and to compare new systems for
arranging knowledge. At the first conference of librarians held in
this country in 1853, classification was one of the topics discussed.
Charles B. Norton read to the group a letter from Remain Merlin in
which he gave the principal points of his book classification. At the
organizational meeting of the American Library Association in 1876,
classification again was one of the topics discussed. Melvil Dewey's
new Decimal Classification had just been published, and Mr. Dewey
appeared before the group to describe and to promote his scheme.
By the early twentieth century, however, the Decimal Classification
had gained such wide acceptance that book classification was no longer
controversial, and librarians at large turned their interests and their
energies to what they considered to be unsolved, challenging problems.
Classification was left to the classifiers. The appearance of
the fifteenth, or standard, edition of the Decimal Classification was
the occasion of some general revival of interest in classification, but
for some four decades we have more or less accepted the Decimal
Classification, without giving much thought to its qualities, good or
It is easy simply to dismiss the Decimal Classification with the
observation that it has endured, not because of any qualities it may
possess, but because it is the scheme that is familiar to librarians
and library users and because most libraries could not afford to reclassify,
even though they might like to do so.
Its familiarity is unquestionable. Dewey taught his scheme at the
New York State Library School, and the graduates of that school went
forth to teach it in other library schools or to adopt it for their libraries.
Today the Decimal Classification is the basic scheme taught in
the beginning cataloguing course of every library school in the country,
and 85% of college and university libraries and 98% of public libraries
in the United States use the scheme in whole or in part.
|Publisher:||Graduate School of Library Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
|Citation Info:||In F.T.Eaton and D.E.Strout (eds). 1959. The role of classification in the modern American library : papers presented at an institute conducted by the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library Science, November 1-4, 1959. Urbana, Il: Graduate School of Library Science: 62-75.
|Series/Report:||Allerton Park Institute (6th : 1959)
|Genre:||Conference Paper / Presentation
|Publication Status:||published or submitted for publication
|Rights Information:||Copyright owned by Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1959.
|Date Available in IDEALS:||2007-07-16