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Dewey Decimal in the UIUC Bookstacks
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*About Melvil Dewey
Biography of Melville Dewey
Melville Dewey (1851-1931) invented the Dewey Decimal Classfication (DDC) while he was working as a student-assistant in the library of Amherst College in 1873. He published the Dewey Decimal Classification system in 1876.
His original name was Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey. He dropped his middle names and changed the spelling of his first name, and he even spelled his last name "Dui"!
In his new classification scheme, Dewey introduced two new features: relative location and relative index. Prior to Dewey, books in libraries were numbered according to their locations on the shelves. In other words, each book had a fixed location. The Dewey system, on the other hand, numbers books in terms of their relationship to one another without regard for the shelves or rooms where they are placed. Relative location allows indefinite intercalation; books can be moved about in the library without altering their call numbers. In the relative index, Dewey brings together under one term the locations in the scheme of a subject which, in many cases falls in several fields of study.
In addition to inventing the DDC, Dewey organized the first conference for librarians in Philadelphia in 1876. He was one of the original founders of the American Library Journal, served as the managing editor of the publication until 1881. In the same year, he founded Library Bureau library supply company in Boston, Massachusetts.In 1885, he founded the New York library Club, the first of many similar local clubs. He founded the Spelling Reform Association in 1886. When Dewey created Columbia University's School of Library Economy in 1887, he established the discipline of library science in America.In 1890, he was elected President of ALA (the American Library Association), and elected again in 1892. He served as the official delegate of the US Government to the International Library Conference in London in 1897.
[ Sources:Cataloging and Classification: An Introduction, by Lois May Chan; ALA, January, 1996; Irrepressible Reformer, by Wayne A. Wiegand]