The Problems with Dewey

I’d known that the Dewey system was biased. Mr. Dewey was American, white, male, Christian, born in NY, and educated at Amherst College in MA.

As an example, this is a brief rundown of the 200s section, Religion:

200 Religion
210 Philosophy & theory (216, which is no longer used, was “Evil”)
220 The Bible
230 Christianity
240 Christian practice & observance
250 Christian orders & local church
260 Social & ecclesiastical theology
270 History of Christianity
280 Christian denomination
290 Other religions

Did you see that? 290 is “Other religions.” In a brief division of a religion section, you find:

292 Classical religion (Greek & Roman)
293 Germanic religion
294 Religions of Indian origin (Dharmic faiths)
295 Zoroastrianism
296 Judaism
297 Islam, Babism & Baha’i
298 is no longer used, but was Mormonism
299 Religions not provided for elsewhere


Never mind that there used to be a call number specifically for “mental derangements” (130), “education of women” (376), “outcast studies” (397, which I’m sure was great next to folklore in 398).

I think my point is that the Dewey system is flawed.

Furthermore, a Dewey number can be very simple (i.e. 500 COHEN is my call number for The Best of the Best American Scientific Writing) or can be very long (i.e., 331.892829225209712743090511 which belongs to a subject called “Buhler Versatile Inc. Strike, Winnipeg, Man., 2000-2001” according to The Dewey Blog). I don’t even have a spine label big enough for that.






1 Comment

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One response to “The Problems with Dewey

  1. Well look at that! I learned something new!

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