Thursday, August 14, 2008

:: :: read by number :: ::

Dear Mr. Dewey,

I just wanted to write to tell you how much I love your decimal system. I’ve been scouring the internet — even Amazon.com with its “you might also like” feature that so wants to be like your decimal system — for books on postpartum depression and have come up feeling a little bit disappointed.

But then I went to the library and typed “postpartum depression” into the electronic card catalog and up popped a number: 618.7. I took myself to the stacks — ahh! the stacks! they deserve their own letter of adoration, don’t you think, Mr. Dewey? — and found the magic number and there before me were between ten and twenty books on postpartum depression. Books I wouldn’t have found without your happy little decimals.

I’m always trying to tell my students about the benefits of actually leaving their dorm rooms and walking their tired collegiate bodies to the real-life brick-and-mortar library. I tell them, “yes, I like to do research online, too, but…” and then I tell them about walking the stacks by number. It’s like searching for buried treasure with a well-drawn map. 487.69 marks the spot, and what you’ll find there you may never have found any other way.

Sometimes I require that they include one actual book in their bibliographies. Once I even made them bring the book into class to prove they’d actually gone to the library and learned about your ingenious system.

As thanks, I am enclosing a picture of my little boy because, come on, the only thing better than an intricate system of number categorization is an adorable boy.

Would you like to eat him up, or shall I?

Adoringly,

Julie @ Letter9

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