We all feel incredibly sad today. We just learned that our dear friend and colleague Magda Heiner-Freiling, head of subject cataloguing at Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (DNB), died last Sunday in an accident while on vacation. It was Magda who first brought up the idea of a German translation of the DDC. During a vacation in the United States during the mid-1990s, Magda noticed that the same system (the Dewey Decimal Classification) was used to organize the collections in a large metropolitan library and in a small reservation library (for those of you who read last Friday’s Wall Street Journal article on Dewey, you’ll recognize this anecdote and now know the name of the “German librarian”). In October 1998, Magda organized a workshop in Frankfurt to explore a possible German translation of Dewey—after years of discussion and planning, her dream was realized in 2005 with the publication of the German translation of DDC 22 in print and web versions.
We’ve written several times in this blog about interesting Dewey questions and suggestions from Magda and her team. Magda was also one of the contributors to last year’s special issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly on Dewey, and was an invited participant in the Dewey Planning Retreat held at OCLC in March 2004. Most recently, we’ve worked with Magda and her colleagues at DNB to improve the representation of the DDC in the MARC 21 formats. Magda was a former member of the IFLA Section on Classification and Indexing, and co-founded the European DDC Users’ Group with Patrice Landry. We send our deepest condolences to Magda’s husband Harald and their two sons, and to Magda’s colleagues at DNB and in Konsortium DDC Deutsch. Our profession has lost an inventive thinker and leader much too soon. My OCLC colleague (and former member of the German translation team) Michael Panzer captured the essence of Magda’s drive and creativity best this morning: “She was on fire!” Dearest Magda, we will miss you.