Weinberger – The Geography of Knowledge

I thought this chapter was great because it touched on a lot of what we’ve gone over in class with radical cataloging, the general outdated feel of the Dewey Decimal System, and how Amazon pretty much has the coolest classification systems ever.  I liked that Weinberger pointed out that overhauling the system is much easier said than done, and it is very much a double-edged sword. It would be great if Dewey Decimal became more inclusive of other cultures and easier to understand and categorized for the contemporary age, but then you have to deal with the hundreds of thousands of libraries that now have to overhaul where their physical books go and how they are arranged.

When I worked at a library in high school I was there when they decided to give graphic novels/comic anthologies their own section separate from young adult books (which are placed in their own area in my library), and even though that was just one small section to rearrange we complained about it for weeks. I can’t imagine having to re-shelve half the library because the Dewey Decimals changed.

It’s hard to find a happy medium in a situation like this, but I think it is possible to find a solution that’s a bit better than “oh, we all know this is outdated, but it’s what we’ve got to work with.” Weinberger points out that information and knowledge are ever-changing and evolving, so it might just actually be impossible to ever have a truly Amazon-esque cataloging system for a library. I think a possibly solution may be for each library to individually consider its own users and what they’re looking for, but that would also unleash a whole other pile of problems. (A lack of a universal system might mean you’re out of luck if you go to a library outside your own neighborhood, etc.)


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