Yack Laments Dewey

You don’t see the library showing up too often in old student yearbooks, other than dramatically-lit shots of the building or the occasional photograph of students studying (or, sometimes, sleeping) in the stacks. So I was surprised to find an entire page in the 1970 Yackety Yack, the UNC student yearbook, devoted to the library’s transition from the Dewey Decimal to the Library of Congress classification system. It begins:

Everyone under the legal voting age in 1970 has been subjected to, for every single year of his or her life, three influnces of varying importance–Richard Nixon, Lucille Ball, and the Dewey Decimal System.

The first two are still going strong, finding new fields to work in. The Dewey Decimal System’s number is up, however, as campus libraries, under the watchful eye of University Librarian Dr. Jarrold Orne, are converting to the more abcedarian Library of Congress system.

The piece discusses the advantages of LC over Dewey, but closes with a fond remembrance:

Do you remember the time you first tred in awe down the narrow aisles in the stacks? How you rounded the turn that separated 808.7 from 808.8? Your finger running fearfully down the row of book spines? No single Great Moment in Sports can match the joy of finding a book in a library with over a million volumes bearing the same number that you clutched in your hand. But such sacrifice is the cost of progress.

Goodnight, Mr. Dewey, wherever you are.

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