Saturday, September 5, 2020

Summer Reading 2020 The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey

The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey by [Alexis O'Neill, Edwin Fotheringham]

This picture book biography shows Dewey's early fascination with books and organization. Scenes of organizing his mother's kitchen shelves, saving books from a school fire, and plowing ahead with the determination of a locomotive fill the pages. The various methods of library organization before his time - size, color, shelf number, etc. are mentioned, as are the limitations of libraries mainly to wealthy individuals or prosperous schools. His push for the decimal organization system, library training schools (with women as students), and free libraries for all are covered. The author also mentions that others sometimes found Dewey odd, annoying, and pushy.

Back matter includes a timeline, sources, a couple of archival photos, and a discussion of the Dewey Decimal System and Dewey's other favorite reform ideas - spelling and a conversion to the metric system. The author's note includes information about Dewey's later difficulties stemming from his harassment of women and his racism and antisemitism. 

Units on library organization or lessons on the DDC could be introduced with this book as a read-aloud. 

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