Why Dewey's Decimal System is prejudiced


Steven writes "Why Dewey's Decimal System is prejudiced is a short piece that argues The DDC's aging value system shows the pernicious influence of reality. It says This highlights two ways our taxonomies are changing now that we're shaking off the physical and moving to the electronic. First, the physical world is so hard to change that a taxonomy that's offensive in its inherent values — and all taxonomies have values baked into them — may be worth maintaining simply because no taxonomy is worse than an offensive taxonomy. Second, the most important job of the new generation of librarians is to build into information objects sufficient metadata that any organization can create its own taxonomy."


People working in Judaica Libraries have seen for years how the Dewey Decimal System hampers classification of Jewish materials. There have been several attempts to modify the system to fit Jewish libraries. It is interesting that college and university libraries use the Library of Congress system. Many libraries have switched over the years. Melvil Dewey and his wife founded the Lake Placid Club in 1893. That club specifically barred Jews from entry. It is easy to explain reasoning for things in the past such as Dewey's motives. The system is very confining and hard to use. When I was in library school, the professor in the cataloging course demonstrated to the class that to fully reflect the title at hand the Dewey number would cover two blackboards. It is no wonder that the Dewey system is slowly disappearing from college and university libraries. The explosive growth of information and its specifics actually makes the Dewey system diffcult to use anyway besides it biases.

LC shoves all of "Internet" in to TK5105.875. Bigots.

I'm not sure if I should mod that as funny or flambait.

I think its funny myself but I think that this "internet" thing is just a fad.

Or just plain not right/dated. The Internet is placed in TK5105.875.I57 for general works. Special aspects are in TK5105.878 to but not inclusive of TK5105.9 . Also remember how old LC is. The "Internet" is apart of "Electrical engineering. Electronics. Nuclear engineering"

Discalimer: All my LC data is from classweb.

I've noticed all of the geeky stuff like internet, web, computers, programming languages, and all that jazz are particularly badly put together. They need to hire a geek for a few weeks and rearange all that so it makes more sense to the people who use it most often.

I tend to think DDC is a poor choice for special libraries of any kind, because so many of their books are going to fit into one or two DDC numbers (in my library, about a third of our shelf-space is devoted to books in 796, and another big chunk to 613.7, whereas we have half a shelf total for 100s, 200s, 400s and 500s).

But (to play devil's advocate) surely it's arguable that DDC was suitable for American libraries, at the time it was written - there would have been far more books published on Christianity than on other religions, so it makes sense to have more classification numbers for Christian books.

Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement stuff gets jammed up in BX7077 pretty much. Not a happy situation with the proliferation of material they issue and no central hierarchy to control it!

I was a cataloger at U. of IL and at that time they used Dewey (don't know about now--it's awfully hard for a huge library to change) and the decimal part of the number was so huge it was ridiculous and as I recall was "in-house" designed.

But I've also cataloged for our church library and some of the numbers used for small libraries are much good either.

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