December 2008 Archives

Dewey the Decimal Maker

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(sung to the tune of Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer)

You know Dana and Dempsey 
and Avram and Nutter.
S.R. and Putnam
and Berman and Cutter.

But do you recall
The most famous librarian of all?

Dewey the Decimal Maker
had a healthy love of tens.
He saw the scattered book shelves
through his metric decimal lens.

All of the other book worms
still liked keeping books on chains.
They knew a book's location--
kept it locked up in their brains.

Then one fateful shelving day
a cataloger caught the bug
Dewey with your decimal scheme
1-3-5-point-3 is "why I dream."

Now all librarians love him
for sorting a book, film, or kit.
Dewey the Decimal Maker
He can make the whole world fit.

------------------------------------------------

Happy Holidays everyone. 
For previous Hectic Pace Christmas parodies, see:

The Happiest Place on Earth

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Nope, I'm not talking about the blogosphere. I actually just got back from my first famliy trip to Disney World since I was 12 years old. It was a great place to spend Thanksgiving, actually. Since my return, and given the dearth of blogs posts on Hectic Pace lately, I have been seeking some sort of meaningful metaphor for libraries out of the experience.

I know that at some point there were libraries out there signing up for the Disney cutomer service training. But I somehow can't really picture all librarians shaving their facial hair, smiling all the time, and ending every transaction with "Have a magical day."

No, what struck me at Disney was how amazingly efficient everything was. There is rarely any confusion about what direction to go; rather than wait, I can FastPass my rides to schedule my return; one card granted me access to all the parks, my hotel room, my dining plan, and would even charge purchases to my room. And when I used that card for dining, I didn't get an uninterested swipe and a smile...almost every time, I got a new piece of advice on how to maximize the value of the service.

Spending 5 days at Disney might just be like a circle of Hell to some people, and I thought it might be for me. What made it less so, I suspect, was the hassle-free efficiency of the experience.

Maybe the hassle-free part didn't remind me of libraries (or most certainly, library systems), but one thing did remind me of libraries. There was a lot of new stuff at Disney, including 2 parks that didn't even exist the last time I was there. But I had happy flshbacks to all the things that had not changed at all--the teacups, haunted mansion, and Peter Pan's flight. It was as if they had not changed at all in nearly 30 years. It was comforting--the way the things that have not changed about libraries is comforting.

I've been spening a lot of work time on business models that reduce cost and the technolgies needed to propel libraries out of the 20th century. Maybe efficiency and comfort should be the new gold standard.

About the Author

Andrew K. Pace

I am Executive Director for Networked Library Services at OCLC. I am also a past President of LITA. On occasion, I am known for pontificating "on stage, in writing, and via the web" on a variety of issues important to libraries.

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