at The Evergreen State College

Melvil Dewey

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Melvil Dewey. Source:[1]

Melvil Dewey (1851-1931)

Dewey had a profound impact on the development of libraries. Under the slogan "the best reading for the largest number at the least cost," he was elected president of the ALA in 1890 and began to standardize libraries, in the process largely inventing the look and feel of the modern library. Nearly every aspect of today's library stems from Dewey's obsession with standardization and efficiency, from how to classify subject matter to the size and margins of library cards. Any visitor to any library organized according to Dewey's methods could find his/her way around without difficulty. Familiar practices initiated by Dewey include:

  • The Dewey Decimal Classification system
  • A reference department
  • A cataloging department
  • An author-title card catalog and a subject card catalog
  • Arranging books on shelves based on their classification numbers
  • Overdue fines
  • Circulation records, based on slips and classification numbers[2].