Chad Comello

libraries, culture, typewriters

Tag: Dewey Decimal Classification (page 1 of 5)

DDC 450-499: A grossly unfair linguistic ellipses

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
  • 460 Spanish, Portuguese, Galician
  • 470 Latin & Italic languages
  • 480 Classical & modern Greek languages
  • 490 Other languages

Here’s the deal: I started trying to find books in each of the above 10-spots but was having trouble finding 3 that weren’t straight up dictionaries or the usual dry if practical phrase books for each of the sections’ languages. And then I didn’t post on TMHTD for a while out of benign neglect, so then I decided, Why don’t I just lump all these disparate languages together into one post so I can catch up and offend people all over the world? The end.

So yeah, we’re hopping on a redeye to fly over all these beautiful countries and their beautiful, complicated, storied languages, but hey, look out the window! There’s Barcelona and Rome and Athens and whatever the capital of Romania is!

The Dew3:

Madre: Perilous Journeys With A Spanish Noun
By Elizabeth Bakewell
Dewey: 465
Random Sentence: “Uncultivated weeds reaching for the sky, taking over the one ground field with entropic gusto.”

Hide This Italian Book
Dewey: 458.3421
Random Sentence: “Stefania e una botte (Stefanie is a barrel).”

Carpe Diem: Put A Little Latin in Your Life
By Harry Mount
Dewey: 478.82
Random Sentence: “Tom Cruise is the little big man of the screen.”

How I Got to Now: A Librarian Year

This week I celebrated my one-year anniversary of librarianship. In my application essay for library school I wrote that I’d been a frequent library user for most of my life, yet had never considered working in one until recent epiphanies changed my outlook. Perhaps I thought of it like working at a movie theater—another regular haunt of mine—in that the prospect of seeing movies for free belied the much less glamorous reality of terrible hours, meager pay, and lots of cleaning. I simply never imagined myself on the other side of the reference desk or at the helm of a book cart. I didn’t lack imagination; I merely had, as Steven Johnson put it in How We Got to Now, a “slow hunch” that gestated for years and then illuminated only once the conditions were ripe.

My “plan” entering college was to become a high-school history teacher. I loved history and thought I might be a good teacher, so abracadabra: that’s what I’d do. History major, education minor, future set. But that first fall semester I took a writing class and wrote a few pieces for the school newspaper. That I could write about music, film, and essentially anything else I could conjure and get it printed in ink with my name attached to it for campus-wide distribution was a stunning revelation, and a disruptive one. This new storyline challenged the vocational narrative I’d slapped together to have something to tell people who asked at my high-school graduation party what I’d do with my life. But before winter break I’d changed majors to English (with an emphasis in journalism) and bumped history down to a minor (because you can’t have just one economically unviable field on your diploma). I never regretted the decision, nor did I forget the privilege of being able to make it at all thanks to scholarships and financial aid.

And yet, four years later, clad in a black gown I’d never wear again, holding a diploma I think I maybe know the current whereabouts of, I wondered what was next. As a newly christened liberal arts degree-holding humanities major—Oh great, another one—my skills and knowledge base were just unspecific enough to ensure that my first few jobs would have little to do with what I learned in college. But long-term planning has never been my thing. I have no idea what I’m having for lunch today, let alone where I’d like to be in five years. My strategy has been akin to what Anne Lamott describes in Traveling Mercies, how when her pastor prays for direction, “one spot of illumination always appears just beyond her feet, a circle of light into which she can step.” Life has felt more like that to me than following a line or climbing a ladder: hopping from one bright spot to the next and hoping for illumination. Hop, then hope, ad infinitum.

My post-graduation bright spot appeared after I’d spent a few months abroad and came home broke. One rent check away from having literally zero dollars, I worked as a cashier for a few months, which gave me much-needed income for the price of my soul, and then started part-time at Barnes & Noble as a bookseller. (That remains an all-time favorite job.) I would’ve stayed at Barnes & Noble indefinitely had another bright spot not appeared. A college friend of mine who’d taken a job at a university had entered its library and information science program and was telling me over and over how much I’d like it, that I should look into it. Who works in a library? I thought. But I looked into the program and realized, Oh, I would work in a library. Classes in archives (where my interests strongly laid at the time) coupled with a field that emphasized organization, books, cultural fluency, and intellectual freedom? Are you kidding me? That “circle of light” was blinding, so I leapt into it with a smile.

Confirmation came quickly. Library school, in my experience at least, was where being a nerd was nearly a prerequisite, introverts were abundant, and the male-to-female ratio was very much in my favor. (Exhibit A: Meeting my future wife in my first class.) But I was starting from 000. I’m pretty sure I was the only one in class who had never worked in a library. Lucky for me this was a built-in expectation: Because there is no bachelor’s degree in library science, everyone in some sense was starting from scratch. The learning curve was steeper for me, but that made things more fun. I wasn’t that long-time library worker grudgingly returning to school to sit through classes I could teach myself to get that expensive piece of paper that shattered the glass ceiling of professional certification and magically allowed me to earn more money; I was a guy who accidentally made a great candidate for librarianship and happened to like it too. Because I loved history most of my 36 credit hours trended toward archival work, but I also enjoyed classes on storytelling, metadata, bookbinding, and digital libraries. In this new world everything I looked at was a delicious possibility. I felt like a kid with a golden ticket bouncing around Willy Wonka’s sugary wonderland, except the edible mushrooms were finding aids and the chocolate river was the archives/cultural heritage track of my MLIS.

The river brought me past a few archival internships and volunteer gigs during school, which I parlayed into a (paid!) summer internship at a large corporate archives. But after such a wonderful opportunity, and the apex of my library school adventure, in the fall of 2013 I was back in the dark. The doldrums of unemployment followed, which I dotted with odd jobs, some freelance archiving, and intermittent despair, until I got a kinda-sorta-library-related warehouse job I was, two months later, summarily laid off from.

Things were dim. But then, another circle of light: an interview, then a second, and then a job offer. Time to hop again. I was a librarian. (Part-time, anyway. Though now I’ve started another part-time librarian position so I figure that equals one full-time job, minus health care.) Yet even after I said yes, I felt ill-equipped. I’d taken the wrong classes and banked the wrong type of internships to feel fully qualified for the position. But I’d learned a valuable lesson about hiring in my previous lives as an RA and housing coordinator: credentials do not (necessarily) a qualified candidate make. The letters after your name can get you a meeting, but they aren’t magic. You gotta hope the people in charge can work a crystal ball, and can see a résumé as a blueprint to build from and not a final product. I hopped, then I hoped.

My idea of the perfect job is a role that hits the sweet spot in the middle of the Venn diagram of one’s skills, interests, and passions. Being a librarian does that for me. I’m a reader and culture omnivore; I’m good at making complicated things understandable and enjoy seeing people succeed; and I ardently believe—personally and professionally—in what libraries do. I’m also only a year into this thing. The tectonic plates beneath the crust of the library world are grinding and shifting, and I don’t know what the occupational earthquakes will do to it. But I’ll be along for the ride, probably off in the 900s looking for my next presidential biography. Jean Edward Smith’s Grant has been whispering sweet nothings to me…

DDC 440-449: Foux Du Fa French

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 440 Romance languages; French
  • 441 French writing system & phonology
  • 442 French etymology
  • 443 French dictionaries
  • 444 Not assigned or no longer used
  • 445 French grammar
  • 446 Not assigned or no longer used
  • 447 French language variations
  • 448 Standard French usage
  • 449 Provençal & Catalan

You thinking what I’m thinking? I hope so. Like it or not that’s what I think of when trying to speak fake French. That guttural huh huh huh is probably what the French hate the most about the French stereotype, though I don’t know any French people so I’m just gonna assume that’s true without confirming like a good cultured-enough American. #patriotism

I kid. I’d love to visit France one day, and if I do get that chance I’d likely bone up on the language beforehand using these books:

The Dew3:

Les Bons Mots: How to Amaze “tout Le Monde” With Everyday French
By Eugene Ehrlich
Dewey: 443.21
Random Sentence: “Ferme ta gueule! (shut your trap!)”

Say Chic: A Collection of French Words We Can’t Live Without
By Françoise Blanchard
Dewey: 448.2421
Random Sentence: “One suspects that the valiant Crusaders would not have been pleased.”

The Story of French
By Jean-Benoit Nadeau
Dewey: 440.9
Random Sentence: “Merchants in Sudbury still hesitate to put simple signs saying Bonjour on their doors.”

DDC 430-439: Polyglöts Ünite

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 430 Germanic languages; German
  • 431 German writing system & phonology
  • 432 German etymology
  • 433 German dictionaries
  • 434 Not assigned or no longer used
  • 435 German grammar
  • 436 Not assigned or no longer used
  • 437 German language variations
  • 438 Standard German usage
  • 439 Other Germanic languages

Based on the material available in this section, I’d venture to say that while Germanic languages aren’t the prettiest ones out there, they are often the most interesting. There’s the umlaut-loving Swedish, the melting-pot Afrikaans, the Tolkien-like Icelandic… I’ll never have enough time to learn them all, but were I to undergo a superhero origin story, I hope my heroic alter ego would be a polyglot.

The Dew3:

Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods
By Michael Wex
Dewey: 439.1
Random Sentence: “Men, women, and children: they drink, they fight, and they screw.”

Swedish: A Complete Course for Beginners
By Vera Croghan
Dewey: 439.782421
Random Sentence: “Vad kostar tomaterna?”

Colloquial Afrikaans: The Complete Course for Beginners
By B.C. Donaldson
Dewey: 439.3682421
Random Sentence: “Ek het vanoggend brood gekoop.”

DDC 420-429: Nouns and Pronounce

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 420 English & Old English
  • 421 English writing system & phonology
  • 422 English etymology
  • 423 English dictionaries
  • 424 No longer used—formerly English thesauruses
  • 425 English grammar
  • 426 No longer used—formerly English prosodies
  • 427 English language variations
  • 428 Standard English usage
  • 429 Old English (Anglo-Saxon)

While I know a little Spanish, English is (obvs) my primary language. And what a weird language it is. I’m so glad I didn’t have to learn it later in life, because in some ways it makes no sense. Especially pronunciation: this well-known poem illustrates that well. But because it’s second nature to me, it’s hard to tell how English stacks up against other languages vis a vis difficulty in grammar and pronunciation, logical spelling, and poetic beauty. I certainly enjoy writing in English, though I often wish all those silent letters—like in its buddy French—could die. Isn’t tho much better, prettier, and more sensical than though? That superfluous ugh is just… Ugh….

The Dew3:

I Love It When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop A Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech
By Ralph Keyes
Dewey: 422
Random Sentence: “Rutabaga is funny. Potatoes aren’t.”

Death Sentences: How Clichés, Weasel Words, and Management-speak Are Strangling Public Language
By Don Watson
Dewey: 428
Random Sentence: “You are trapped in the language like a parrot in a cage.”

An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition
By James Lipton
Dewey: 428.1
Random Sentence: “So, Mr. Safire, how about a phumpher of schwas?”

DDC 410-419: Linguistics alfredo

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 410 Linguistics
  • 411 Writing systems
  • 412 Etymology
  • 413 Dictionaries
  • 414 Phonology
  • 415 Structural systems (Grammar)
  • 416 No longer used—formerly Prosody (linguistics)
  • 417 Dialectology & historical linguistics
  • 418 Standard usage; Applied linguistics
  • 419 Verbal language not spoken or written

Regarding the post title: what did you expect? This is a section all about words! (Plus I love pasta.) But just look at this beautiful list of literary terms. I’ve heard of probably 10% of them, but I wish to know them all, to hug them tenderly and use them liberally in my own writing and speech. Any other word nerds out there? My logophilia is partly inherited (my late grandfather loved crosswords and learning languages throughout his life), but it’s also a learned love, facilitated by reading more and more things in increasingly diverse genres and forms.

I want to give a special shout-out to the first of the Dew3 picks: it’s pure punctuation porn for weirdos like me who could admire various punctuation marks all day. In fact, I now have plans for the weekend…

The Dew3:

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks
By Keith Houston
Dewey: 411
Random Sentence: “Case closed ;)”

Is That A Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything
By David Bellos
Dewey: 418.02
Random Sentence: “For your aches / Carat cakes / Are the cure.”

Bastard Tongues: A Trailblazing Linguist Finds Clues to Our Common Humanity in the World’s Lowliest Languages
By Derek Bickerton
Dewey: 417.2
Random Sentence: “Wolf has taken daddy, gone, and eaten him.”

DDC 400-409: Learn ALL THE WORDS

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 400 Language
  • 401 Philosophy & theory
  • 402 Miscellany
  • 403 Dictionaries & encyclopedias
  • 404 Special topics
  • 405 Serial publications
  • 406 Organizations & management
  • 407 Education, research, related topics
  • 408 With respect to kinds of persons
  • 409 Geographical & persons treatment

Gotta admit this up front: I friggin’ love words. As an English major, a writer, a reader—pick the reason. I love them so much that I keep a list of cool words I’ve encountered that I want to remember. (*pushes up glasses\*) So I’m embarking on the 400s with great vim and ebullience. Though, curiously, I’ve thus far restrained myself from owning a physical dictionary, mostly because I can’t decide which version I should have. Plus, with the OED and Merriam-Webster adding new words every year, it would soon be out of date. And I gotta have ALL THE WORDS if I have a book of them. (Erin McKean’s TEDTalk on this topic is a great one if you’re interested. And who wouldn’t be?!)

Regardless, I’m pumped—nay, aflutter—to go through this section and see all the lexical gold we will find. Shall we?

The Dew3:

A Little Book of Language
By David Crystal
Dewey: 400
Random Sentence: “The Smiths will be in their clarence.”

The Way We Talk Now: Commentaries on Language and Culture From NPR’s “Fresh Air”
By Geoffrey Nunberg
Dewey: 400
Random Sentence: “They don’t hear a lot of resemblances to Angelina Jolie, either.”

The Infinite Gift: How Children Learn and Unlearn the Languages of the World
By Charles Yang
Dewey: 401.93
Random Sentence: “It would have been fun to know what Adam and Eve said to each other in Africa.”

DDC 390-399: Emily Post-Its

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 390 Customs, etiquette, folklore
  • 391 Costume & personal appearance
  • 392 Customs of life cycle & domestic life
  • 393 Death customs
  • 394 General customs
  • 395 Etiquette (Manners)
  • 396 No longer used—formerly Women’s position and treatment
  • 397 No longer used—formerly outcast studies
  • 398 Folklore
  • 399 Customs of war & diplomacy

This section is a big of a grab-bag. I suppose customs, etiquette, and folklore fit together under the broad category of culture, but on the shelves this looks like that one drawer in the kitchen where you throw all that miscellaneous crap that doesn’t have a standard space, like rubber bands and capless pens and scrap paper. Not at all discounting the value of these topics—because how could we live without Emily Post telling us how to behave?!—but clearly some sections are better synthesized and meant to be than others. But that’s why we love Dewey, right? There’s a reason for everything (theoretically… we hope…) so we best try to understand why.

Or these books just needed to be somewhere.

The Dew3:

Breakfast: A History
By Heather Arndt
Dewey: 394.1252
Random Sentence: “For those wanting even less human contact for their meal, there were the automats.”

Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?: A Modern Guide to Manners
By Henry Alford
Dewey: 395
Random Sentence: “I have benign hand tumors, so don’t worry.”

Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folktales From the Gulf States
By Zora Neale Hurston
Dewey: 398.208996073
Random Sentence: “Tom told his wife, ‘Tell God I’m not here.’”

DDC 380-389: We built this city on rock and roads

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 380 Commerce, communications, transport
  • 381 Internal commerce (Domestic trade)
  • 382 International commerce (Foreign trade)
  • 383 Postal communication
  • 384 Communications; Telecommunication
  • 385 Railroad transportation
  • 386 Inland waterway & ferry transportation
  • 387 Water, air, space transportation
  • 388 Transportation; Ground transportation
  • 389 Metrology & standardization

Honestly, I was surprised by how intrigued I was by this section. Typically I’m not one to fall for anything relating to commerce, but I’m officially coming back to this section to find stuff for my to-read shelf. As represented by the Dew3 picks below, I’m often fascinated by how systems, especially concrete and/or historical, come into being. So while I wouldn’t care much for systems of thought or abstract things, I’m all over the Transcontinental Railroad and space transportation, despite my highly limited knowledge of engineering. Or perhaps it’s because of that lack of knowledge that I’m interested. Knowledge rocks! As do trains!

The Dew3:

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires
By Tim Wu
Dewey: 384
Random Sentence: “Is Google destined to arrive at its Napoleonic moment?”

Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869
By Stephen Ambrose
Dewey: 385.0973
Random Sentence: “This was hard work, dangerous and claustrophobic.”

The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways
By Earl Swift
Dewey: 388.122
Random Sentence: “Even by his standards, he was stinking rich.”

DDC 370-379: Trigger warning – School

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 370 Education
  • 371 School management; special education; alternative education
  • 372 Elementary education
  • 373 Secondary education
  • 374 Adult education
  • 375 Curriculums
  • 376 No longer used—formerly Education of women
  • 377 No longer used—formerly Ethical education
  • 378 Higher education
  • 379 Government regulation, control, support

A fitting section to happen upon as we approach back-to-school season. It’s a time of year that is bittersweet for me: while I do miss the camaraderie and intellectual rigor of being in school, I don’t miss BSing papers, having to take math, and the peaks and valleys of semester after semester of different work. But every trip to Target these days brings all this back, especially seeing all those school supplies that would be on the list every year but that I would never use. I mean, who uses hole-punch reinforcement stickers?

Anyway, this section goes out to all those teachers returning from the sunny beach and getting back into the classroom to prepare for another year. I had a handful of terrible teachers in my day, but also some great ones. Here’s to hoping for your kids that you’re the latter.

The Dew3:

How Lincoln Learned to Read: Twelve Great Americans and the Educations That Made Them
By Daniel Wolff
Dewey: 370.973
Random Sentence: “He’d sworn off that, but there was this: this hunt for ideas.”

True Notebooks: A Writer’s Year at Juvenile Hall
By Mark Salzman
Dewey: 373.11
Random Sentence: “You stealin’ my chips?”

Be Honest: And Other Advice from Students Across the Country
Edited by Ninive Calegari
Dewey: 371.8
Random Sentence: “You are not our last salvation.”

Older posts

© 2018 Chad Comello

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑