More Fun and Cool Facts

The third edition of fun & cool facts on books, libraries, and writing (or books, libs, & scripts):

  1. The first assembly line product are books that rolled off the Gutenberg press around 1440-1445, many years before Henry Ford came along.
  2. Academic libraries switched from using the Dewey Decimal Classification system to using the Library of Congress Classification in the 1960s-1970s. The motivation was economics: the LC did cataloging for all US copyrighted books using, well, the LC classification system. For a long time, LC refused to translate this cataloging, mainly the call number, into the DDC system. Thus, libraries that use DDC had to do that “translation” themselves before they can put the books on the shelves. Or, they can switch to LLC, which is what academic libraries did. Shortly after the academic libraries made this change, however, LC had a change of heart and began to include the DDC call number in their cataloging after all. Academic libraries never made the switch back, however.

    If this is the whole story, it remains unclear to me why the same economics did not apply to public libraries, which to this day, continue using DDC.

  3. The ratio of electronic-to-print expenditures at most ARL libraries, or the 126 biggest research libraries in North American, is approximately 60-40 (60% of acquisition expenditure spent on electronic materials, 40% on print). At the next tier of libraries (in terms of size), or those libraries that are associated with with smaller colleges such as Oberlin, this proportion is closer to 70-30, or even 80-20. By contrast, although UCLA libraries are a member of ARL, the e-to-p ratio at UCLA is 50-50.

Sources: various lectures that I attend & conversations I had. As much as I’d like to share the responsibility for errors in this post with people from whom I got this information, I don’t think that’s done.

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