Monday, May 7, 2012

On Really Old Journal Articles

Today I read an article written by Melvil Dewey for the very first issue of Library Journal back in 1877.

 I'm researching the purpose and value of library cooperatives and consortia for a project regarding the SkyRiver v. OCLC lawsuit, and this Dewey article came up, and I figured that if one of the revered Fathers of the Library wrote something about this, I'd better read it. It ended up being quite an ordeal to even find the thing, which led me to the following resolutions:
  1. If something is in the public domain, it (as in, the actual document) should come up in a Google search. I mean really. I was absolutely shocked that no library Dewey nerd has compiled the works of Dewey into an easily navigable website. I know you're out there, Dewey nerd, and just know--I'm very disappointed in you.
  2. If you are going to cite/reference an article, you should have actually looked at the thing. I found no less than four articles that either cited or referenced a certain 1886 Dewey article (many in curiously similar syntax), and yet said article is nowhere to be found. I'm disappointed in all you lazy, cheating scholars too! I know you didn't read it! You're all just semi-paraphrasing each other without citations because none of you could find the article either!
Seriously, though, if anyone wants to use their searching skillz to find me Melvil Dewey's "Library Co-operation" from volume 11 (issues 5 and 6) of the 1886 Library Journal (pages 106-107)... Let me know.

Besides those two grievances, it was pretty interesting to see that even way back in the nineteenth century, librarians were still dealing with similar issues--ones the solutions to which we are now seeing come to fruition (i.e. WorldCat). Plus, I just love some good nostalgic solidarity.


  1. Ugh, I'm also dealing with assignments and referencing and losing my mind. I also wiki'd Melvil Dewey after reading this as while I am very familiar with his system, I had no idea it was named after him! Learnt something, awesome!

    P.s how good was that guinness ;)

    1. Yep, he's the guy! I think the funniest thing about him is that he changed the spelling of his name from Melville to Melvil because it was simpler and more straightforward. Haha! Such a weird dude.

      And yes, that Guinness was just what I needed the other night. Though it was the first time I'd ever had it in a can, and I found the little plastic ball inside to be rather strange. (I looked it up, it's called a beer widget. Weird.)

  2. Hey Miss Keegan,

    Current library research/articles are horrendous.

    But is this the article your looking for: ?

    1. Ah! That's it! I swear I scoured Hathi Trust, but I could only find the index to volume 11! You're the best.