I try to keep my books organised according to the Dewey Decimal Classification.
This is tough work but I know it’s worth it. You see, I’m exercising dominion over creation.
No really! Hear me out on this one!
I’ve loved libraries and the Dewey (as I call it) since I was in primary school. Naturally, I was a badged Library Monitor. I channelled Hermione Granger like it was my sacred calling in life. (I’m still not convinced it isn’t. Seriously, when they write my epitaph I want it to read “She organised books rather well.”)
The Dewey Explained
The Dewey Decimal Classification was created by Melvil Dewey in 1876. He was the archetypal Victorian genius, full-bearded and full of zany ideas for improving the world. One of his favourites was spelling reform. It’s why his first name is Melvil. He was christened Melville but thought the extra “le” at the end was irrational and unwieldy.
His biggest contribution is, without doubt, the classification system named for him. I mean, before Dewey, libraries would arrange books according to when they acquired them! *shudder*
Dewey, however, created a system that was rational, easy to use, and best of all, reflected man’s whole relationship with the world in the most beautiful and orderly way.
There are ten categories in the Dewey System.
We begin man’s relation to knowledge itself, with systems, bibliographies and encyclopedias. (000 Generalities).
Then we move on to man and his relation to himself, namely his questions about himself and the world (100 Philosophy & Psychology) and his relation to God (200 Religion).
From there, we have man in relation to others (300 Social Science) and how this relation is achieved (400 Language); and then to his relation to the world, both how he can understand it (500 Science) and then apply that understanding to shape his world (600 Technology).
We then examine how he can use the world, not only for useful things, but for good and beautiful things, both in material form (700 Arts) and verbal language (800 Literature).
Finally, we survey just how our man has done that through the course of time and space (900 History & Geography).
The Dewey Explored
The Dewey System is driven by a desire to understand and comprehend the world.
It’s an orderly progression that pictures man as a master of all he surveys: exploring, discovering, labelling harnessing, moulding and above all, cataloguing his world. As the Catechism says,
The order and harmony of the created world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships which exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of nature. They call forth the admiration of scholars. The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man’s intellect and will. (CCC #341)
The Dewey Decimal System is, to me, a metaphor for the orderly beauty of creation and man’s discovery of this inner harmony. Created to seek the one, true God, we bring all the power and grace God has given us to find Him, to follow Him and to worship Him.
Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. (Romans 1:20)
One of our sacred tasks to see and to seek the invisible God through discovery — and then like Adam in the garden — stick a name (or a number) on it.
If creation is a library, and God the author of all, I guess that makes us His librarians.