More Fun and Cool Facts

More fun and cool facts from my library life. Will the excitement never cease?

  • The Dewey Decimal Classification system is the intellectual property of a non-profit organization called OCLC. Yes, that’s right — the Dewey Decimal system, that thing that translates into the call number you see on the spine of your library book, is owned by somebody. This means that a library using the DDC has to pay a licensing fee to OCLC. As do hotels, at least those that use the DDC as a theme. In 2003, OCLC filed a lawsuit against a hotel in New York City for trademark infringement. The hotel had used the Dewey system to name its rooms and floors without first obtaining permission from OCLC, and thus, says OCLC, had violated its intellectual property rights. The parties eventually settled out of court.
  • Ever opened a library book and noticed that somebody has neatly pencilled some information about the book, e.g. call number, acquisition date, in the first few leaves? Noticed how neat the handwriting usually is? Evidently, this is not a coincident as librarians from the “old school” used to take handwriting courses. (Source: story told me by my boss about his boss.) I don’t think librarians ever took formal shushing classes, but I will let you know if I find out otherwise.
  • “Artifactual” is an adjective that librarians/archivists use to denote the importance of a book as a physical object. For instance, the Society of American Archivists defines “artifactual value” as ” the usefulness or significance of an object based on its physical or aesthetic characteristics, rather than its intellectual content”. This is interesting insofar as a lot of spellcheckers, including WordPress’s, Word’s, and many email clients’, do not think “artifactual” is a word. People who work with artifactually important objects (museum curators, rare books collectors, conservators) think this is really annoying.
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