Sunday, February 12, 2006

Melvil Dewey

Melvil Dewey (December 10, 1851–December 26, 1931) was the inventor of the Dewey Decimal Classification system for library classification.
Dewey was born Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey in Adams Center, New York in the United States. He attended Amherst College, graduating in 1874. It was while working as an assistant librarian at Amherst from 1874 until 1877 that Dewey devised his decimal system.
He moved to Boston where he founded and edited Library Journal, which became an influential factor in the development of libraries in America, and in the reform of their administration.
With his friend and fellow librarian Charles Ammi Cutter, he helped found the American Library Association (ALA); both men spoke at the First Annual ALA Conference held in Boston, Massachusetts in 1876.
In 1883 he became librarian of Columbia College, and in the following year founded there the Columbia School of Library Economy, the first institution for the instruction of librarians ever organized. This school, which was very successful, was removed to Albany, New York in 1890, where it was reestablished as the New York State Library School under his direction; from 1888 to 1906 he was director of the New York State Library and from 1888 to 1900 was secretary of the University of the State of New York, completely reorganizing the state library, which he made one of the most efficient in America, and establishing the system of state travelling libraries and picture collections. In 1890 he helped to found the first state library association - the New York Library Association (NYLA) - and he was its first president, from 1890-1892.
He was an advocate of English language spelling reform and is responsible for, among other things, the "American" spelling of the word Catalog (as opposed to the British Catalogue). He changed his own name from Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey to simply Melvil Dui. He also sponsored periodicals on the Ro constructed language, in which the word structure marked its meaning in a hierarchy of categories.
While remembered for his Dewey Decimal System, Dewey's personal views would be highly controversial today. He was extremely racist against African Americans and other minorities, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-women's rights. He also advocated segregation of races.
Dewey is a member of the American Library Association's Hall of Fame.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melvil Dewey deserves the title of “Father of Modern Librarianship.”


4:14 PM  

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