Tony has requested I share with you all the story I deemed important enough to share with him at the dinner table the other night...
Yesterday at work, I was busily shelving the non-fiction books, making sure they were in order as I went. I got to the 599’s – mammals – and had to stop in confusion. The 597’s – reptiles, fish, and amphibians – are shelved according to how the animals are related to each other within their class in the animal kingdom. So are the 598’s – Birds – and the 595’s – Insects. Surely all the animal books should be ordered according to the same rule. Right? I mean, surely Dewey wouldn’t change mid-stream – he was anal! He had to have been drunk.
But here, in the mammals, it was confusing. I had heard they were shelved according to continent of origin, and yes, look, there – in 599.64 was buffola, raccoon, lots of North American animals. But look, here – in 599.63 was a whale shelved right next to a hippo, next to a giraffe, next to a llama??? What on earth? Obviously they must be misplaced. No, they are in order. Maybe they are labeled wrong? No, that’s the correct label.
Ok, so they obviously can’t be shelved according to continent. I mean, gracious, whales don’t even have a continent, giraffe’s are from Africa, and llamas (I think) are from Asia ! Hmm. What is going on here? Are they randomly placed on the shelf? I must get to the bottom of this problem and save libraries the world over from the confusion of a drunk Melville Dewey. I went over to Mrs. Hunt (the librarian I work with) and posed my question. She replied, “Well, I think they are shelved by continent of origin, but that wouldn’t make sense because the other animal books are shelved by relationship within the animal kingdom.”
So, we then proceed to spend the next forty minutes discussing and researching the animal kingdom online to see how they could possible be shelved. And we discovered? Dewey wasn’t drunk. Who would have guessed a whale was a hippo’s closest relation?! Who would have guessed whales, hippos, giraffes, and yes, even llamas, are all in the same Order. They are class – mammal. And lo and behold, they are order – Artiodactyla. Shocking.
And that is how I spent forty-five minutes saving libraries world-wide from vast confusion. I thought it was rather important information, but Tony thought I was just plain geeky.