I believe I may have just decided to join another pagan blogging initiative, despite not yet having finished 30 Days of Druidry. My friend Terrie says that I need to stop wearing the Super Druid cape… then promptly organises more stuff with me when I saw her this afternoon.
So I joined the Pagan Blog Project for 2012, where we use the glorious alphabet to prompt us for our weekly posts. This week is C (so I am already four weeks behind — C is for Catch-up?), so I will give you four mini posts soon to get back on track. But, for now:
I’m a library technician, and I’ve got a problem with a man named Dewey. See, back in the day (1876), Melvil Dewey created his classification system, and Christianity was really the only religion going. You can see this by having a look at the 200 (Religion) class in the Dewey Decimal System. Now, try to classify any Pagan book. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up in 299 (Other Religions), specifically 299.94 (Religions based on modern revivals of witchcraft). If you’re unlucky, you’ll end up in 133 (Parapsychology and Occultism), specifically 133.43 (“Special topics in Parapsychology and Occultism”, Magic and Witchcraft).
What’s the difference between 133 and 299? I say, legitimacy. In one, Wicca, Druidry, etc. are considered as religions. In the other, they are considered alongside books on crystal healing, demonology, Carlos Casteneda, and historical accounts of witch trials. It seems to be wholly arbitrary what ends up where.
What are public libraries doing? Well, that depends. Most public libraries do not do their own cataloguing, but their books come pre-classified. Then, the classification would be up to the companies supplying said books. In the library where I work, there are some in 133.43 that I think should be moved… and while I was looking for something the other day, I found one that had been moved; reclassified from 133.43 to 299.94 (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft). Some libraries move all books to one section. Some libraries opt for putting shelf signs in both sections, instructing patrons to browse both sections for Wicca/Paganism books; this would be the lowest cost to them. Some may reclassify books if patrons ask/explain why.
Go on, test it! Pick some pagan books off of your shelf and use the OCLC DeweyBrowser to see where they are classified. You can search by title or you can type in the classifications I’ve given you: 299.94, and 133.43, and see what comes up. And just for fun, try 291.33, see what you get.