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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Melvil Dewey

In my 503 class, I was assigned a paper to write on someone important to libraries. Who is more important than Melvil Dewey? No one, that's who.

Everyone knows he was famous for the Dewey Decimal Classification system (and if you don't, for shame!), but did you also know that he devised the system when he was still a student at Amherst College and working as an assistant librarian? Yup, it's true.
Also, at the ripe old age of 25 he was instrumental in creating the American Library Association. Not only that, but he started the Library Journal to go along with it.
He was kind of obsessed with simplification and standardization, so much so that he actually created a company which sold standardized office materials and furniture to libraries.

He was so obsessed with simplification, in fact, that he shortened his own name from Melville and dropped his two middle names. He even tried to shorted Dewey to "Dui" but I guess that just caused more trouble than it was worth.
A proponent of the metric system for its ease of use, he tried to organize a movement to change America over to metric, but it didn't take.

Dewey's accomplishments were pretty awesome, but he was probably kind of a jackass in person. For example, he started a resort in Lake Placid, near where he was born, called the Lake Placid Club. They had a strict No-Jews policy, which ended up biting him in the ass when the Jews pointed out that it might be a bad idea to have a bigot in the position of State Librarian of New York.
He lost his job, but his Lake Placid club did, indirectly, lead to the 1932 Winter Olympics. Dewey never got to see it though. He died at age 80 in 1931, in Lake Placid, FL.
What? There's a Lake Placid in Florida? Yes, and there's even a strangely spelled hotel there which Dewey opened in 1927 - the Lake Placid Loj. A bit of a Mr. Potter, he took over the town and had the name changed to Lake Placid.

Assuming you just read that whole post, I hope your brain files the new information away somewhere easily retrievable. You know, just in case you find yourself on Jeopardy! or in a heated game of Trivial Pursuit, or something like that.
posted by hilary at 4:39 PM |


Blogger Jayme Downs said...

I must say, that was a really interesting piece of information. I did though, know that a man named Dewey created the Dewey Decimal System. :)

I think I'm ready for my try at the Trivial Pursuit. :)

11/01/2008 11:05 PM  

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