NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday had a story today about a library that uses neither the Dewey Decimal nor Library of Congress cataloging system; instead, it’s modeled on Barnes and Noble. Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt system is one of those rare library systems that uses the Library of Congress shelving codes, which are impossible to memorize. But my elementary school library used the Dewey Decimal system and I immediately rememberd: 398 and 921.
398 was where one found fairy tales. There was a beautiful series of books with fairy tales from different countries — France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Russia, etc. And there was also a beautiful edition of Aesop’s fables. To this day, I can still the picture of the girl who was counting her chickens before they hatched.
921 was biography. At least, I think I got that right. (Write now, check later, that’s the motto of the Memory Project, because the proprietor was profoundly impressed by Nicholson Baker’s U AND I, which he wrote from memory, then corrected via elaborate footnotes.) There, I was drawn to the <a href=”http://www.readingwell.com/z-famous.html “_blank”>Bobbs Merrill</a> biographies of famous people as children. Lou Gehrig, Knute Rockne, Babe Ruth, Juliette Lowe, Jane Addams, Nancy Hanks.
The rest of Dewey is lost to me now, although I could once recite the entire thing. (My mom was a librarian, okay?) But just the mention of Dewey took me back to my elementary school library. Fiction was in the low shelves against the western wall, while 398 was a tall shelf between the windows and 921 was on the southern wall.
Anyone else have memories of libraries? How did you get your card? Do you know the story of how <a href=” http://www.kidspoint.org/columns2.asp?column_id=989&column_type=author “_blank”>Rufus M.</a> got his card? Did you go every week? Did you ever lose a book, like <a href=” http://www.jewishlibraries.org/ajlweb/awards/stba/sydney_taylor_bio.pdf “_blank”>Sarah</a> of All-of-a-Kind Family? Do you remember the “young adult” craze of the 70s, with those oh-so-relevant books? Did you read <a href=” http://www.paulzindel.com/finalpages/BIO/pigmanbio.htm “_blank”>Paul Zindel</a>? Do you remember the first “adult” books you checked out? (Max Shulman for me.) Did you have a strange subgenre of reading? (Boarding school/orphans. How I longed to be an orphan in boarding school.)
I’ll probably udate this entry with links as the day goes on. For now, I need to go to ABE.come and see if anyone has a copy of APPLES EVERY DAY for sale.