Thursday, July 13, 2006

note to self: library history

What classification system did John Dee use in his library (which, at the time, was the largest in England and maybe the largest in Western Europe). What were his lending policies? Did he keep a catalog?

What libraries did Razi use? Do any museums have any of his manuscripts? What is the citation history of Razi's ideas through alchemical and medical texts?

What do classification schemes tell us about culture? If we were to compare the classification system in a Tibetan monastic library to the Library of Congress classification system, what ontological prejudices might be revealed in the schism between the way these different cultures break their information down into categories?


Watching: Seven Samurai for the first time. Now I see what all the fuss is about.
Shushing: Clovis, New Mexico, U.S.A.
Linking: Gnostic PARANOIA


Tim said...

I've thought about this a good deal myself, primarily because I don't have a system for my personal library at home. Instead, I rely on the "old reference librarian spatial recognition system." A fact that confuses and mystifies almost everyone I know.

In Dee's case, I have to wonder if they didn't simply use an alpha-by-author system. The only other way I can imagine it being done is by subject (probably general subject).

The thing I find interesting about classification schemes is that technology has given us the ability to create any type of system we could imagine, while still being able to easily contain and sort the material, yet we seldom take advantage of that fact (aside from some specialized libraries). Instead, we stick to the established systems.

Anonymous said...

My wife may complain about the stacks of random books all over the house, and I say: Plumber's have leaky faucets too.

On Dee, The alpha by author system would have worked for all the books with Roman letters, but he'd have had some Hebrew texts, and maybe even stuff from further afield -- and his own Enochian manuscripts (which probably were NOT in public view)... but if he did do it this way, he'd have had a catalog too. Wonder if a catalog has been uncovered...