Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Dewey Does Decimals" from David Strempel

 David has kindly allowed me to share this work with you: Enjoy.!!

A student once asked me to write a poem on the Dewey System 
for the School magazine:

Dewey Does Decimals

Melvil DeweyImage via Wikipedia

"When Melvil Dewey was a lad,
  Books in libraries were so bad,
  They were piled up in ugly stacks,
  By which were lies and which were facts
  And which were red and which were white
  And which were large and which were slight.

  “This has got to stop,” said Mel,
  “These libraries are a living hell,
  I just can’t get no satisfaction.”
  And then he had an inspiration.
  “There’s got to be a better system.
  I’ll think it through, and then I’ll list ‘em.”

  It took him days and weeks and years,
  He went through paper, ink and beers.
  It took long walks with his dog Bluey,
  And then it came to Melvil Dewey –
  A way of finding books so fast
  “This is the way, hooray, at last!”

  “I’ll put all books in ten main classes,
  I’ll write that down, now where’s my glasses?
  Then each class into fields I shall divide ‘em,
  And then each field and subfield and so on ad infinitum
  For more specific things, I’ll use some decimal places,”
  Whispered Mr. Dewey, hitching up his braces.

  Mel used the lowest numbers for generalities,
  Like mysteries, computers, journalism, bibliographies.
  The 100s were for noble ideas and thoughts of philosophy,
  And thoughts of thoughts and logic and psychology.
  He set aside 200 to two hundred ‘n’ ninety nine
  For ideas of the supernatural and of the divine.

  300s were for social sciences – law and education,
Civics, sociology, customs and vocation
  400s got the Language stuff – dictionaries ‘n’ grammar as well,
  “This ain’t so hard after all,” mumbled a smug Mel.
  500s he gave to Sciences – maths chem and zoology,
  Botony, palaeontology, biol and geology.

  600s for Technology, medicine and invention,
  TV, engineering ‘n’ agriculture got a mention.
  700s – the Arts – architecture and for painting,
  And music and sculpture, photography, recreating.
  800s for Literature – poetry, and plays (like Mystery),
  900s for Geography, cities, countries and for History.

  “Well that’s it then,” said Dewey to his Great Unca Scrooge,
  If this thing catches on it really will be HUGE,
  And if it don’t, why then, I’ll use my imagination,
  I’ll do a Mao, leave libraries and go and lead a nation.”
  Fortunately it worked for him, Mel Dewey and his dogue,
  But next he had to invent the old card catalogue.

  I’m not too sure I told it all the way it really went,
  But next time to a library you go or you are sent,
  Remember Melvil Dewey, the librarian and his pup,
Who gave us all good libraries, neatly divided up.
  And spare a thought for librarians with strange looks on their faces,
  Sitting in their back rooms trying to work out decimal places."

Melvil Dewey's Decimal SystemImage by Klara Kim via Flickr

  David Strempel   Teacher Librarian

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