Since I started as Dewey Editor, it's been fascinating to hear people’s responses when I tell them about the position, both from people within the library world and outside of it. I'd like to share some of the most frequently asked questions that I've received.
[incredulously] People still use Dewey?!
YES!! It's the world’s most widely implemented library classification, used in over 130 countries around the world. Here in the United States, it's used by most public and school libraries. Elsewhere, such as in Europe, it’s also used in national bibliographies and academic libraries.
What exactly do you do all day?
One of the biggest parts of my job is researching publishing trends to ensure that the numbers in Dewey are up-to-date and that people who are classifying materials have clear directions for how to apply the DDC for resources in new or changing subjects. That also includes revising the current schedules; for example, right now I'm working on a proposal to update the language used in the schedules for LGBT issues. It's a collaborative effort; the editors all give each other feedback on finding the best approach for various challenges. Other editorial tasks include answering questions from library workers around the world about using the DDC and staying current on changes in other classification systems.
You're located at the Library of Congress? Don't they have their own classification?
They do. But there's a team of classifiers here at the Library of Congress who assigns Dewey numbers to new materials. (If you speak MARC, that team supplies the numbers in the 082 field.) The Dewey classifiers assign over 60,000 class numbers each year; that provides libraries that use Dewey with authoritative class numbers for the new resources they receive. The editorial team relies on the classifiers to let us know when there are areas of the DDC that aren't as robust as they need to be.
How many people are on the editorial team?
There's just four of us: two full-time editors, and two part-time senior editors.
So, what, y'all are *in charge* of Dewey?
Not really. The editorial team and the classifiers are just some of the people who make Dewey magic happen. Once editors research potential changes to the schedules, they bring those proposals to the Editorial Policy Committee, a 10-member group of people representing libraries from around the world. The EPC gives feedback and votes on whether to implement the changes that the editors propose. The DDC is owned by OCLC, so we work closely with teammates in Dublin to explore new ways of using Dewey data to provide access to users. The editors also collaborate with software company PANSOFT, the current developers of WebDewey, to make updates that make WebDewey easier and more effective to use.
LCC rules, DDC drools.
That’s not a question.
What's your favorite Dewey number?
They’re all beautiful in their own way.
What's the future look like for Dewey?
So bright we've got to wear shades. Right now we're working to make improvements to the system which feeds data into WebDewey so schedule changes are made more smoothly and new updates can be rolled out. We're excited about OCLC projects which will harness the subject access provided by Dewey classification into enabling new modes of discovery. And we're looking forward to making community feedback a more integral part of the way that the DDC is maintained and updated to ensure a truly global perspective. Stay tuned!