not geographical nor alphabetical

tags: , , ,

Israel…   …Afghanistan…          …Vietnam…

library shelvesbaffled

I was baffled

by the organisation

the organisation of the books, by country, in the Reading central library

there is some organisation principle in place

can you guess the logic behind the juxtapositions?

not geographical nor alphabetical
rate wendys scribble

10 bits of lovely banter on “not geographical nor alphabetical”

  1. Kevin writes:

    I know the answer so it would be cheating for me to say.

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  2. Madame Defarge writes:

    I vote that Kevin tells us. Even if it is a trade secret.

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  3. wendy writes:

    I second Mme Defarge’s wise suggestion

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  4. Tim writes:

    Well, it’s obviously something to do with conflict zones. But beyond that, I’m frazzled. Practical application of chaos theory? Practical application of Reading Borough Council’s policy on most things? (Same thing actually)

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  5. Kevin writes:

    It’s the Dewey Decimal System. Geography and description, or “general history of an area” have class numbers in the 900s (I could complicate this lots but I won’t).

    If you have a quick look at the schedule you’ll quickly spot that the scheme reflects the intellectual sensibilities of a 19th Century American academic: a phenomenal amount of detail for the United States and Western Europe and then everything else scrunched up in the tiny spaces remaining. So Israrel would have a class number beginning 956, Afghanistan 958 and Vietnam 959.

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  6. wendy writes:

    so it’s like – there are countries that are countries over here, organised sensibly, and countries ‘over there’ organised ‘whatever’. How does Dewey Decimal deal with countries subdividing – e.g. the former czeckoslovakia? what will be, the former Sudan

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    Kevin writes

    They’re both “Whatever.” If California ever secedes from the union they’ll have to trash the whole taxonomy.

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  7. Raymond writes:

    I remember as a child observing the nonuniformity of the Dewey Decimal System. The 100’s are devoted to philosophy, the 200’s to religion (with all non-Christian religions crammed into the 290’s), the 400’s to language (the 470’s devoted to Latin, but non-European languages relegated to the 490’s), a whole integer (718) for landscape design of cemeteries, but all of television is squeezed into 1/100 of a unit (791.45).

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  8. wendy writes:

    Fascinating.
    I’ve never really thought about the messages implicit on the Dewey Deceimal system though I remember being a bit baffled by ‘Psychology’ all being under 150, yet things like mental illness were in 362 so often I would have to look in multiple places to find what seemed to me to be closely related topics.

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  9. Brian writes:

    Nice puzzle! I was thinking of that solution. It looked like these countries would be in the late 950s, and then Africa on the shelf below would be 960.

    The same thing happens to me with my computer folders; on the top level I end up with a few giant folders and the rest having only a couple of files in them.

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