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Chick was fucking messed up, dudes. But she could scan like shit.
September 8, 2009 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Dudes! Did you see the library they've got here? Dude, they've got the latest computerized catalog system—just roll right up to a terminal, type in your search terms, and it gives you a list of titles and call numbers, plus a little map to show you where they all are. Fucking Dewey decimal, man. It's tight. (SLMcSweeney's)
posted by l33tpolicywonk (80 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have narrowed
the margins
that were set
by your browser

and which
you were
happy
with

Forgive me
they were wide
my eyeballs
cannot swivel
side to side
posted by DU at 6:59 AM on September 8, 2009 [41 favorites]


Dude's gonna freak when he finds out the library is sinking 'cause the architects didn't take the weight of the books into account.
posted by bendybendy at 7:18 AM on September 8, 2009 [11 favorites]


You know, I don't think I've ever seen a college library that uses the Dewey Decimal system.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:25 AM on September 8, 2009 [8 favorites]


What kind of university library is it that uses Dewey, not Library of Congress? (This question is two parts honest query, one part rhetorical snark.)
posted by knile at 7:26 AM on September 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


McSweeney's is so consistently unfunny that I almost feel like I should start ironically wearing McSweeney's shirts or something
posted by Damn That Television at 7:29 AM on September 8, 2009 [16 favorites]


What kind of university library is it that uses Dewey, not Library of Congress? (This question is two parts honest query, one part rhetorical snark.)

Haha, yeah. Mine.

Some smaller colleges and universities use it. It's clearly not because there are any real advantages to it, but the costs of converting over to LC are prohibitive.
posted by cog_nate at 7:35 AM on September 8, 2009


so, mcsweeney's is where they publish articles that weren't quite good enough for the onion?
posted by 256 at 7:40 AM on September 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


No joke, this was one of my freshman year roommates. That was years ago, and about a month ago I got an e-mail from him just "to catch up..." which is odd, since we hardly spoke, and certainly didn't after that first year. His e-mail reads like a resume, telling me all the clubs he was involved in throughout the rest of college, the committees he headed, the important extra-curricular activities he did. Oddest thing.
posted by odinsdream at 7:44 AM on September 8, 2009


I loved my college library. It was open 24 hours. There was a Starbucks, a juice bar, and a sandwich kiosk. There was a Gamecube hooked up to a big-screen TV. There was high-speed Internet and you could get all the latest DVDs.

What's all this about books?
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:47 AM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, odinsdream, welcome to the glory of job search networking!
posted by naju at 7:48 AM on September 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


you laugh, but I at least loved my college library. Alumni access and a apartment only a mile away make life wonderful.
posted by honest knave at 7:48 AM on September 8, 2009


What kind of university library is it that uses Dewey, not Library of Congress?

I don't know if it's still the case, but at least as of when I went to UT, the PCL had some stacks Dewey, some stacks LoC.
posted by kmz at 7:48 AM on September 8, 2009


At least Dewey was basing his system on a philosophical underpinning; arbitrary is so yawn.
posted by dragonsi55 at 7:49 AM on September 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


I think that during finals week (and starting the weekend immediately before finals week), the library was open until 2 or 3 AM. A few different semesters, I didn't really have any finals to study for but was totally pumped about hanging out in the library at night.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:52 AM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some smaller colleges and universities use it. It's clearly not because there are any real advantages to it, but the costs of converting over to LC are prohibitive.

Well, there are advantages, actually. DDC's programmatic approach is more intuitive than LC's ad hoc subcategories, which makes it much friendlier to browsers and casual users. The strengths of LC don't come into play until a collection's so large that it requires absolute precision in its organization.
posted by Iridic at 7:54 AM on September 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


My work library uses LoC (I assume that's what it is) and it really sucks. Related books on distantly separated shelves is the main problem. But I guess that's what I get for trying to browse a system that wasn't created for browsing.
posted by DU at 8:00 AM on September 8, 2009


I'll be all cool and stuff—I'll have my headphones on, with Nickelback going, and I'll just keep turning pages.

What literate person would like nickelback. That detail completely undermined the believability of the piece! Why, it practically turned it into a parody!
posted by delmoi at 8:08 AM on September 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


so, mcsweeney's is where they publish articles that weren't quite good enough for the onion?

I don't think there would be much content that meets that criteria.
posted by delmoi at 8:09 AM on September 8, 2009


What kind of university library is it that uses Dewey, not Library of Congress? (This question is two parts honest query, one part rhetorical snark.)

I heard that Australian universities do. One example is La Trobe
posted by Gor-ella at 8:10 AM on September 8, 2009


Typing this from the library. Now that I'm through with all the Homework and Exams stressfulness, my initial love for the library has returned.
posted by water bear at 8:10 AM on September 8, 2009


Well, it's thanks to this article and the subsequent discussion that I learned:

1) That college libraries don't use the Dewey Decimal System.
2) What the Dewey Decimal System is.
3) What the Library of Congress system is.
4) That the learning of the categories M, ML and MT in the last library isn't lost in the new one.

Of course none of this is going to prevent me from asking dumb questions at the front desk, but I (and probably most librarians with whom I interact) live in hope.
posted by ob at 8:20 AM on September 8, 2009


That article looks a lot like the kinds of things I would write in high school, only worse. And, I'm a terrible writer.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:20 AM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know if it's still the case, but at least as of when I went to UT, the PCL had some stacks Dewey, some stacks LoC.

It's still the case. I'm not sure how they decide which one to use for a given book, but they've still got Dewey and LoC side by side.

I've actually seen this at a fair number of university libraries. If I remember right, f'rinstance, the University of Michigan library had a decent chunk of its fiction Dewey-ized at least until the 90s when I moved away from Ann Arbor.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:23 AM on September 8, 2009


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the largest academic libraries in North America, uses Dewey.
posted by k8lin at 8:37 AM on September 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the largest academic libraries in North America, uses Dewey.

And until very recently, the entire collection's been open to browsers. Not a coincidence, I think.
posted by Iridic at 8:48 AM on September 8, 2009


It's still the case. I'm not sure how they decide which one to use for a given book, but they've still got Dewey and LoC side by side.

Probably fiction and literature is Dewey-ized, maybe biographies as well. Everything else: Library of Congress.

/Ex-librarian who misses it. Sigh.
posted by Skygazer at 8:50 AM on September 8, 2009


I still miss the Rice U library sometimes. I loved wandering thru esoteric stacks. Can still smell it.
posted by jcruelty at 9:10 AM on September 8, 2009


That is just depressing.
posted by pinky at 9:24 AM on September 8, 2009


I don't get it. Is it supposed to be sarcasm? (as in, no real student would get that excited about the library?) Or is it making a point about taking the opportunity to use libraries while at college? Or is it some kind of satire about the internets? Please advise.
posted by memebake at 9:35 AM on September 8, 2009


I was reminded of my freshman year in high school in Arizona back in the 1980s. A school reporter came up to me and asked me to appear in a "man on the street" type thing in the school newspaper, replete with head & shoulders photo, alongside 3 other kids. The question I heard, or thought I heard, was: "What do you like about our high school?" Unfortunately the question was "What do you like about high school".

Come Friday, this is what appeared in the paper.
"What do you like about high school?
* Jeff Jockulus: 'High school gives me a chance to pursue my athletic goals.'
* Sara Sororitus: 'I like the electives, having the chance to study anything from Latin to golf.'
* Nick Nerdius: 'I like meeting new friends, with the chance to see a new crowd every semester.'
* Crapmatic: 'I like our big library.'"

Boy oh boy, it took me two weeks to live that one down. I don't know if that was a lesson in not listening or a lesson in the reporter being a jerk. But hell, I loved libraries and I really did like that big library.
posted by crapmatic at 9:38 AM on September 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


In my pre-internet college days all students were required to take a 1-credit course in how to use the LC library at SFSU. No card catalog, microfische.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:41 AM on September 8, 2009


Monumentally unclever.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:16 AM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate my library. It has punitive hours of operation.

It was closed Sunday but Open on Labour day. What the hell is that all about? "Let's be open on the major holiday when no one will be on campus because the school is closed for the holiday, but let's close the day before when people might want to do some last minute research or get a book before the holiday."

Yeah, totally sensible.
posted by oddman at 10:25 AM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my pre-internet college days all students were required to take a 1-credit course in how to use the LC library at SFSU. No card catalog, microfische.

Heh. At our university we had a class like that, although it was just a half credit (and the only half credit course at the university). Anyway, I took it freshman year but slacked off, since there were no classes -- you just had to fill out the work and turn it into a box at the library. So I went to take a testout at the end of the semester.

When I was there, at the test out, there was a guy who had thought he had graduated, and actually moved out of the state only to find out he hadn't take the class. So he had to come all the way back, study the material (for like a half hour) and then take the test -- which was entirely about the organization of this library -- not library use in general before he could get his diploma.
posted by delmoi at 10:27 AM on September 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


It was closed Sunday but Open on Labour day. What the hell is that all about? "Let's be open on the major holiday when no one will be on campus because the school is closed for the holiday, but let's close the day before when people might want to do some last minute research or get a book before the holiday."

Why would someone need to get something done on Sunday if if they could do it before Monday? Most people treat Labor and Memorial days as "three day weekends" anyway.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 AM on September 8, 2009


Well, that was certainly annoying.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:28 AM on September 8, 2009


I don't get it. Is it supposed to be sarcasm? (as in, no real student would get that excited about the library?)
Yes! The old switcheroo!!
As funny as dressing kids or animals in grown-ups clothes or the never-fail Old People Rapping.
posted by chococat at 10:32 AM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


He is talking about the library exactly the way many rising freshmen talk about the gym.

While I don't think I was super-excited that the library was open 24 hours a day at my undergrad institution, I was definitely disappointed that it wasn't in grad school.
posted by grouse at 10:39 AM on September 8, 2009


I hate my library. It has punitive hours of operation.

It was closed Sunday but Open on Labour day.


I know, right! Except my library was closed Saturday, Sunday AND Monday. Why close on Saturday for the Monday holiday? They stretch out every holiday into a week-long festival of non-openage. Extremely frustrating.
posted by DU at 10:44 AM on September 8, 2009


Hey, we didn't become librarians because we like working all goddamn weekend.
posted by box at 10:48 AM on September 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I miss my college library SO SO SO sooooo much. If only I lived closer and could take advantage of the alumni access.

Here, you can take a podcast tour and find out why Alden Library is so awesome. I had a work study job working for one of the reference librarians who was really into online stuff (this was back in the dark ages, of course). He turned me on to all kinds of stuff I use even now, such as The Mac Is Not A Typewriter, and internet stuff (and Hypercard!).....

Oh how I long for your stacks, Alden Library! I PINE FOR THEM LIKE THE FJORDS!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:50 AM on September 8, 2009


I actually knew someone like that at college. He was a jock and he liked to pump iron and he also wanted to buff up his brain and discuss ideas...he actually was into the idea of college making him a smarter person. So I don't see this as witty as much as, like yeah, you know what, I think every college has a few guys like that, who're just enthusiastic and pumped about everything, including books at the library. So, I enjoyed it on that level. I'm not sure if it's what the writer intended, but whatever.
posted by Skygazer at 10:52 AM on September 8, 2009


Hey, we didn't become librarians because we like working all goddamn weekend.

Actually when I have weekends off from my library job, I sometimes like to go visit other libraries and am pissed when they are closed! This library sits on the birder of Vermont and Canada and if the library were OPEN I could have taken a photo of the line that goes through the middle of the library and then demonstrated my skill at sneaking into other countries. Alas, the slacker librarians were at home going to CHURCH or something so I could not do this.

That said, it annoys the crap out of me that libraries are closed on Sunday. THAT said, I sort of like it too because then I can go to the library and get work done on Sunday without patrons being all "my Yahoo is broken"

And yeah McSweeneys is always too ultra-ironic for me.
posted by jessamyn at 10:56 AM on September 8, 2009


Oh how I long for your stacks, Alden Library! I PINE FOR THEM LIKE THE FJORDS!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:50 PM on September 8 [+] [!]


I took the virtual tour. Nice library. Even has a Cafe....Faaa-ncy. Woo.
posted by Skygazer at 10:59 AM on September 8, 2009


"my Yahoo is broken"

A question that comes up on Ask MetaFilter with alarming regularity.
posted by grouse at 11:00 AM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jeff Jockulus: 'High school gives me a chance to pursue my athletic goals.'

Is that Jeff Jockulus of the New England Jockuluses? They're a well-established family with a long history of laudable philanthropic contributions, although the Jockulus men do tend to be meatheads in their youth.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2009


"my Yahoo is broken"

Check with the Houyhnhnms. Or a Blefuscudian.
posted by GuyZero at 11:24 AM on September 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Unfunny, and I "get" irony.
posted by everichon at 11:29 AM on September 8, 2009


Bitter-girl, you're making me miss Athens. I just graduated this past summer, and Alden is the biggest thing I miss. Well, besides DP Dough. The university libraries in Toledo and BG just aren't the same. :(
posted by KoPi_42 at 11:32 AM on September 8, 2009


I guess, in this case, it was the discussion and not the post.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:35 AM on September 8, 2009


Is this a library-geek thread? Yeah? So maybe this is a good place to draw attention to the MeFi Jobs item I posted today?
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:42 AM on September 8, 2009


Ah, odinsdream, welcome to the glory of job search networking!

I like to respond to those with a similarly-structured e-mail chronologically revisiting all the high points and whacked out drunken experiences of college, including a few "It was sure a relief they never found that girl's body" -type lines.

It makes the penultimate "I'll let you know if I hear about anything opportunities you'd enjoy." more effective.
posted by rokusan at 11:46 AM on September 8, 2009


What kind of university library is it that uses Dewey, not Library of Congress?

When I started at my current job, I got the library tour and one of the cryptkee- er, specialists said, "One of our microfiche machines is down, but the other two work great."

All the new folks were puzzled. I said, "Is that a joke?"

"Is what a joke?"
posted by el_lupino at 11:48 AM on September 8, 2009


Hey, there wasn't any fancypants cafe when I went to school there, Skygazer. Just books and books and books...sniff sniff.

So true, KoPi_42 -- I went to grad school at Cleveland State, whose library, I'm sorry to report, was pretty much the last word in suckitude ca. 1996-97 when I was there. It made me miss Alden all the more.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2009


Our library is open 7 days a week. But we have virtual patrons. That don't ever seem to sleep.


(There's been discussions about making us 24 hours, but then they'd have to hire more staff because there's only 4 of us presently.)
posted by sperose at 12:06 PM on September 8, 2009


Mcsweeney's seems to consist of clever jokes that aren't fleshed out, and mildly amusing jokes that go on too long.

This was the latter.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:10 PM on September 8, 2009


Dude.
posted by not_on_display at 1:37 PM on September 8, 2009


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the largest academic libraries in North America, uses Dewey.

And as a UIUC faculty member, I just can't tell you how proud that makes me. I just can't.
posted by erniepan at 1:45 PM on September 8, 2009


That wasn't even mildly funny.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:00 PM on September 8, 2009


Davis, how I pine for thee ;_;
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:12 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dewey? LoC? Fine for Americans, but the British use charmingly idiosyncratic shelfmark systems: go ahead and try the British Library, Cambridge and Oxford catalogues for giggles. In Cambridge books are shelved according to their size. No, really.
posted by woodway at 2:22 PM on September 8, 2009


What kind of university library is it that uses Dewey, not Library of Congress?

I was going to say "Duke," but it looks like they've switched.

And until very recently, the entire collection's been open to browsers. Not a coincidence, I think.

Huh? How many universities have closed stacks, apart from things like rare book rooms that don't comprise more than an inconsequential portion of the collection?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:38 PM on September 8, 2009


Mcsweeney's seems to consist of clever jokes that aren't fleshed out, and mildly amusing jokes that go on too long.

This was the latter.


I thought about emailing J.B.Yoder at JBYODER@GMAIL.COM to tell him how much his article sucked.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 2:57 PM on September 8, 2009


Huh? How many universities have closed stacks, apart from things like rare book rooms that don't comprise more than an inconsequential portion of the collection?

It was more a difference of degree than of kind. Wikipedia: "As of 2006, [UIUC] had also the largest "browsable" university library in the United States, with 7.5 million volumes directly accessible in stacks in a single location."

That was then, of course. Many of the "low circulation" books have since been squirreled away in the Oak Street Library Facility - high-density storage, impossible to browse. UIUC's not the only university to take this step.
posted by Iridic at 3:05 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


me: I don't get it.
grouse: He is talking about the library exactly the way many rising freshmen talk about the gym.


Ahh, thanks, thats it. That does actually make it funnier for me.
posted by memebake at 3:11 PM on September 8, 2009


He is talking about the library exactly the way many rising freshmen talk about the gym.

Well, that does explain the "nylon-mesh shorts" and "awesome Under Armour shirt," but it doesn't make it any funnier. Perhaps less so. I went to school with plenty of "dumb jocks" and nobody talked about the gym that way. Perhaps you all had better access to the varsity athletic facilities that I did ...
posted by mrgrimm at 3:29 PM on September 8, 2009


He says he's a fan of David Foster Wallace.
posted by blucevalo at 4:11 PM on September 8, 2009


I went to school with plenty of "dumb jocks" and nobody talked about the gym that way.

I've been at a couple of institutions with exceptional athletics facilities for all students, and yes, people did get very enthused about the gym.
posted by grouse at 4:21 PM on September 8, 2009


It's still the case. I'm not sure how they decide which one to use for a given book, but they've still got Dewey and LoC side by side.

If I remember correctly, PCL's Dewey books were pre-1960 (?) volumes that weren't rare enough to be in special collections and not popular enough to circulate regularly (I had fun browsing through Victorian etiquette and cookbooks). I would guess that when the library made the conversion to LoC, it wasn't worth it to re-catalog these books.

Northwestern's library uses Dewey, or at least they did in the 90s.
posted by bibliowench at 4:48 PM on September 8, 2009


Somewhere around seven years ago, I asked a UT librarian about the Dewey/Library of Congress split at PCL. He told me that there was actually one person whose job it was to convert books from Dewey to LoC, one at a time. The exact details of the conversation in my mind are now hazy, but I believe that the retrospective recataloging would be put aside when there was other cataloging work to be done. Yes, all new books have been LoC for many, many years.
posted by grouse at 4:59 PM on September 8, 2009


Most of UPenn's libraries are LOC. I currently am reading an old book with a Dewey call number. Generally the only books I've had from our libraries with Dewey numbers are ones that I've had to have specifically retrieved from storage, which means they're usually old and at least a bit obscure. (This book is also old enough, and printed on cheap enough paper originally, that the paper gives me a headache.)
posted by madcaptenor at 5:41 PM on September 8, 2009


This library sits on the border of Vermont and Canada

Let me guess: half Dewey, half LoC?
posted by ovvl at 6:38 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know it was CLOSED ON SUNDAY. But since it was a small public library in Vermont, I'm guessing DDC even though it's crappy for non-US stuff.
posted by jessamyn at 6:43 PM on September 8, 2009


This library sits on the border of Vermont and Canada

Shouldn't it sit on the border of Vermont and Quebec, or the US and Canada?

(I am perennially annoyed by the signs telling you BRIDGE TO USA or CANADA<-)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:04 PM on September 8, 2009


It sits on the border of ketchup chips and maple syrup.
posted by jessamyn at 7:09 PM on September 8, 2009


So it sits sort of in the middle of the plate where the crumbs from the chips sit in a bit of merple slurple from the pancakes and a wee smidge of egg yolk?

Mm.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:08 PM on September 8, 2009


Both ketchup chips and maple syrup come from Quebec. I'm confused about there being a border.
posted by GuyZero at 8:23 PM on September 8, 2009


I should hope there's a border. Putting the maple syrup on the ketchup chips would be upsetting.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:00 PM on September 8, 2009


"upsetting" is a strange synonym for DELICIOUS.
posted by GuyZero at 9:01 PM on September 8, 2009


One of my favorite at McSweeney's:

The Riddler Makes An Announcement
posted by Brosef K at 11:40 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


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