December 10th marks the birthday of Melvil Dewey, best known for the organizational system named after him. Dewey was also a founder of the American Library Association.
Librarian confession time: I am less familiar with Dewey than with Library of Congress. I cut my teeth in academic and museum libraries, and they all use LoC, not Dewey. I know most librarian have Dewey committed to memory, they know their 500s from their 900s whereas I… have not a clue what those are. And that’s ok! You don’t have to have Dewey committed to memory to appreciate the impact he and his system have had.
There’s plenty of material out on the internet and in library publication around the history and development of the DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification). I’m not wading into philosophies on this one– its a living classification system, and one I don’t use every day. What I will note is that this system predates LoC by several decades, and it was a step forward from fixed locations for books based on accession date. That way lies biology next to Dickens next to Freud next to an Encyclopedia. Easy to find when things were added, less easy to research, oh, any given thing. If you’ve walked into a library– pretty much any library– you have benefited from relative location, whether the spine labels are DDC or LoC.
For the record, I did go find the table of Dewey numbers, and I’ll share it in case you need it (though any public library I’ve been in tends to have signage that says what the numbers mean, bless the librarian who came up with that.)
000 – Computer science, information & general works
100 – Philosophy and psychology
200 – Religion
300 – Social sciences
400 – Language
500 – Pure Science
600 – Technology
700 – Arts & recreation
800 – Literature
900 – History & geography
Finally, a bit of fun: Geek and Sundry has a list of Bookish games! The first one sounds amazing
Hopefully everyone had a lovely weekend! This weekend, I tackled a few things: digging into more of our acquisitions as we prepare for more, research on how we might sell discards (more to come on that!), and clearing out the back log of blog posts and stories I’d been meaning to read.
Based on that, I found some stories I wanted to share with all of you:
- A travelogue of Libraries in Italy, two subjects near and dear to my heart
- 10 years ago OCLC published a report on digitization and they are highlighting that again, especially since technology changes so quickly
- The Library of Congress has a new free to use photograph collection, this one of Roadsides in America.
- An oldie from the Library of Congress, here are some awesome vintage travel posters that are free to use and reuse.
- Also on the older side, a round up of good free online resources and apps
- Did you know the New Hampshire state library is 300 years old today? They’ve been highlighting fun facts every day, but there’s a good intro piece on NHPR.
- The digital copies of George Washington’s papers moved to a new home a few months back, in case you missed it.
- In the spring, Library of Congress launched a new portal to all of their World War I content, especially timely since we are in the midst of the centenary.
- So now I’m disappointed that there wasn’t a “librarian hand” class in library school. I would love to have standardized penmanship!
For the political science nerds and those who love original source documents, this from the GPO:
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) partners with the Library of Congress (LC) to release the digital version of the bound Congressional Record from 1991-1998 on GPO’s govinfo. This release covers debates of the 102nd thru 105th Congresses. This era of Congress covers historical topics such as:
- The Persian Gulf War
- Bill Clinton’s Presidency
- Enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Republicans gaining control of both the House and Senate since 1954
You can read the rest of the release here, and access the records here.
The Hammer Museum is on the campus of UCLA, so I imagine that a majority of folks haven’t been able to view the collection. I was able to visit the Hammer as part of a tour of LA Area museums (which is a blog for another time but also a totally worthwhile trip). The Hammer recently received a grant to digitize some of their archives and exhibits.
The first exhibit is an examination of African American art in Los Angeles during the 1960s. The art from the exhibit is online, as are the lectures, essays, and presentations that surrounded the exhibit. They are planning on two more exhibits with the same supporting information as well.
This is a good example of the rise of digital exhibits in the museum and library world– we can’t travel as often as we’d like or visit all the museums we may want to, and the rise of these digital archives allows us to see more exhibits, view more art, and hopefully experience more than we otherwise might have.
For all the budding lawyers out there, WBUR has a write up on a digitization project going on at Harvard:
Historically, libraries have been collections — books, multimedia materials and artwork. But increasingly they’re about connections, linking digital data in new and different ways. The Caselaw Access Project is a state-of-the-art example of that shift.
“So what’s going to result from this project is a huge database of electronic, digital court decisions,” Ziegler explained. “And the world of law has never seen that before.”
I like the idea that all of the case law will be freely accessible (far more so than the books that are in storage currently.) And per the article, the physical books will still be kept in storage should anything go wrong.
Library school was about 8 years ago for me, and one of my classes involved government research. As it happens, that was how I was introduced to Twitter but, more to the point, how I became aware of THOMAS. At the time, THOMAS was a big deal– launched in 1995, it started out as a bleeding edge resource, making Congressional proceedings available for free. Basically, if you were trying to look into anything that Congress did, you went to this website.
Remember, for a moment, what the internet was like in 1995. If you need a refresher, trying viewing some of the internet relics that are out there: Space Jam is a perennial favorite; for something more comparable, check out the Wayback Machine for Yahoo. Compare that to THOMAS, and you were much farther ahead. As with most technology, we’ve reached the end of life for the THOMAS system– its simply not robust enough for modern users or browsers.
Several years ago, the Library of Congress introduced Congress.gov, the successor to THOMAS. Now comes the final word: THOMAS is retiring July 5. (Side note: I have considered and discarded numerous Hamilton related puns. You’re welcome). LOC has a full write up for those interested. In the meantime, if you are looking for any Congressional sessions, resolutions, bills, treaties, or general information make sure you are going to Congress.gov rather than THOMAS.
We are something of a ‘divided’ household when it comes to the Inklings: I’m a CS Lewis fan, my husband is very much a Tolkien fan. That’s not to say that we don’t read both, more to say where preferences lie. Whichever you prefer, the original illustrations for Lord of the Rings and Narnia are in the same style, having been done by the same artist.
The map in question was actually found among the books of the artist, Pauline Baynes. The Guardian has a good write up on the map, which you can find here. You’ll also want to make sure you check out the write up from Bodleian about the acquisition– it includes a picture of the map as well as the post map that Baynes illustrated in 1970.
I was in Oxford once, though it was only for about 2 hours so I wasn’t able to go really anywhere that I wanted to. For those who have been, did you see anything from the Tolkien collection? Or any of the other special collections?