or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Ahmadinejad Classification System

   August 26th, 2010

I recently noticed in our Reference collection one of the quirks of the Dewey Decimal System that people often refer to as "serendipitous" - but look at the picture below to see if you also see a problem:

Ahmadinejad Classification System

The books that caught my eye are these (biggify the photo to see the Dewey numbers):

And here's the Dewey breakdown:

809 - History, description, critical appraisal of more than two literatures
809.91-.92 - Literature displaying specific qualities and elements
809.933 - Literature dealing with specific themes and subjects

I didn't see .927 described in either DDC21 or DDC22, but it was the call number specified in that book's CIP data (©1987), so it must have been phased out long ago.

And so, I get that these books are each about specific kinds of literature. But come on - a book about the Holocaust shelved between two books about imaginary things? It really is like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other fool Holocaust deniers got into OCLC and caused this to happen - a cataloger sleeper cell.

I'm going to talk with my Head of Technical Services to see how we can fix this.

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6 Responses to “Ahmadinejad Classification System”

  1. Marcie Says:

    Some of the confusion may be that the call numbers aren’t long enough. According to Worldcat, the “Holocaust Lit” book should be 809.93358 and the “Dictionary of Imaginary Places” should be 809.93372. That should put other books on similar topics next to each other. (There aren’t any official breaks in the call numbers. The typist of the spine labels may have cut them off because s/he ran out of room.)

    I’m not sure about “Imaginary People.” I’m not a cataloger so I don’t know how to tease out the details on that one, but if that call number isn’t in DDC then the book probably should be recataloged.

    Dewey definitely does have some quirks.

  2. Kersten Says:

    haha — good call on that “cataloger sleeper cell”
    (this entry was a good chuckle)

  3. KathyS Says:

    I had to check our library’s catalog, and fortunately, our “Encyclopedia of Holocaust Lit” resides at 809.9335, between “The buried book : the loss and rediscovery of the great Epic of Gilgamesh” and “Gay and Lesbian lit”. Phew!

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