Dewey facts

Here are some fun facts about Melvil Dewey:

  1. He was born on this day in 1851.
  2. He was the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, which remains “weirdly out of date, reflecting the small-town sensibility of a student at a tiny Christian college in the mid-1870s.”*
  3. He loved the metric system, hence the decimal part of the Dewey Decimal System.
  4. He also had a thing about spelling and thought that things should be spelled phonetically and without redundant letters. Hence, his given name of “Melville” became “Melvil.”
  5. He was a founder of the Lake Placid Club in Lake Placid, NY, some 20 miles from where I currently am sitting.
  6. The Paul Smith’s College Library is and will continue to be a Dewey library, despite the general trend for Library of Congress classification in higher ed. This is because: 1. Reclassifying a whole library is a giant pain and 2. Melvil Dewey was a “local boy.”
  7. The fact that this is a Dewey library means that the time I spent shelving books in a public library has been unexpectedly useful in my current position.
  8. He was, apparently, not a very nice person.
  9. His penchant for spelling reform is the reason the Adirondack Loj is spelled the way that it is. (Sidenote, the Loj is highly recommended for local hiking and backpacking.) (Side sidenote, I’m not convinced that “loj” is an accurate representation of the phonetics of “lodge.” I hear a D in there, don’t you?)
  10. Later in life he established a Lake Placid Lodge in Florida. Then he was a thorn in the side of Lake Stearns, Florida until they agreed to change the name of the town to Lake Placid just to shut him up. (I’m projecting here, but it doesn’t seem like much of a leap)

I’m currently dipping in and out of Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger. It just so happens that I picked the book back up after a break on today of all days, hence your fun facts for the day.

* Weinberger, David. Everything is Miscellaneous. New York: Holt Paperback, 2007.

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