Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Library Week Library Heroes: Melvil Dewey

Library reformer and creator of the Dewey Decimal System of book classification, Melvil Dewey was born December 10, 1851 at Adams Center, New York into a relatively poor family where thrift was a necessity. He began working in libraries as an undergraduate at Amherst college, visiting many other institutions during his time there in order to see how they ran their libraries.

In 1876, while still at Amherst, he published A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library, which was eventually adopted by libraries all over the U.S. to become the standard American library classification system. Indeed, although it has been supplanted by other systems in academic, specialized, and larger public libraries, the Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index is still used in many school and public libraries.

As if that wasn't enough, Dewey went on to become the first secretary of the American Library Association, and twice president of that organization. He edited the first five volumes of the Library Journal, organized the Library Bureau in Boston, and became associated with the American Metric Bureau, the Spelling Reform Association, and other educational reform groups.

Melvil Dewey is also credited with inventing the vertical office file cabinet.

He died on December 26, 1931.

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National Library Week is a time to celebrate the library heroes who have made significant contributions to the field of librarianship. One such hero is Melvil Dewey, whose impact on the organization and classification of library materials cannot be overstated.

Melvil Dewey, born in 1851, was an American librarian and educator who revolutionized the way libraries are organized. He is best known for creating the Dewey Decimal Classification system, a method of categorizing books based on subject matter. This system allowed libraries to efficiently organize their collections and make it easier for patrons to find the information they were seeking.

In addition to his work on classification systems, Dewey was also a strong advocate for education and literacy. He believed that access to knowledge was essential for personal growth and societal progress. To further this mission, he established the first library school in the United States at Columbia University.

Today, Dewey's legacy lives on as libraries continue to use his classification system as a foundation for organizing their collections. His contributions have had a lasting impact on library science and have helped countless individuals access information and expand their knowledge.

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