Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dewey Decimal Visualized - updated

Here all my photos of the Dewey mural in the Main Branch of the Fresno County Free Library on Mariposa Street. I mention the street because Mariposa as one of the streets that bordered the block I lived on as a boy. It was only a 4-block walk down Mariposa to Jefferson Elementary School (where my mother had also attended in her day) and about another seven blocks, with some minor zigs and zags, to the library.

Wikipedia on the Dewey Decimal Classification:
The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC, also called the Dewey Decimal System) is a proprietary system of library classification developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876, and has since then been greatly modified and expanded through twenty-two major revisions, the most recent in 2004. The system is a method for placing books on library shelves in a specific and repeatable order that makes it easier to find any specific book or to return it to its proper place.


The DDC attempts to organize all knowledge into ten main classes. The ten main classes are then further subdivided. Each main class has ten divisions, and each division has ten sections. Hence the system can be summarized in 10 main classes, 100 divisions and 1000 sections. DDC's advantage in choosing decimals for its categories allows it to be both purely numerical and infinitely hierarchical. It also uses some aspects of a faceted classification scheme, combining elements from different parts of the structure to construct a number representing the subject content (often combining two subject elements with linking numbers and geographical and temporal elements) and form of an item rather than drawing upon a list containing each class and its meaning.

More from Wikipedia:

The system is made up of ten main classes or categories, each divided into ten secondary classes or subcategories, each having ten subdivisions of its own.


000 – Computer science, information, and general works


100 – Philosophy and psychology


200 – Religion

300 – Social sciences


400 – Languages

500 – Science and Mathematics


600 – Technology and applied science



700 – Arts and recreation



800 – Literature



900 – History and geography and biography










You may click on any of the photos to see more detail and identify the various visual representations used for the sections of Dewey.

Finally, a small replica of the famous Dying Gaul statue that was in the library back then and still is. This was the most erotic thing in my young life and I was very careful to glance at it but not stare.

To Rome he may have been the despised enemy but my queerboy heart belonged to him.

Updated to correct spelling of Dewey in the headline (Deewy?  My fingers were rushing.)

Also to note this - Susan S. in the comments says of her visit to Fresno:

I have only been to Fresno once or twice in the '70s where we went out on Shaw Ave. to 'Stanley's on Shaw' for Armenian food and a quick drive by the totally unimpressive (then) Cathedral of the DioSJ (remember, I am a convert from the Southeast where the Cathedrals are much older and more impressive). I didn't know then how new the Diocese was.


I am so glad you dined there, Susan!  When my parents were newlyweds they had a newlywed couple for neighbors, George and Gladys Kooyumjian.  George had witnessed the slaughter of his family by the Turks (do NOT talk to me about minimizing what happened around 1918 in eastern Turkey).  My sisters grew up with Stanley and his sister Dorothy (hello, Skinuts, if you are reading this!).

I thus grew up eating Armenian food cooked by my mother and Neighbor-Nell Gladys.  "Neighbor-Nell" was a nickname Mother and Gladys used of each other and of no one else.

George ran Home Market downtown, a meat shop and deli.  Stanley took it over after George's untimely death.  Later Stanley moved the operation (still downtown) and opened a lunch restaurant.  Mom helped out there.  Later still, Stanley went for the big time and opened Stanley's Restaurant out on Shaw.  Gladys was still working in the kitchen.  All the food there was just like Gladys cooked for family and friends.  From Gladys and the mothers of some of my classmates I learned at least the rudiments of Armenian cooking and I love it.

Stanley retired from the restaurant business and Stanley's is no more.  I have traded a few e-mails with Stanley and Dorothy Ann and her husband over the decades.

So thank you, Susan S., for giving me the opportunity for more nostalgia and rejoicing in people I have loved.  Sh'norhagal em ("I am grateful," in Armenian)!

--the BB

5 comments:

susan s. said...

This is wonderful, Paul.

I have only been to Fresno once or twice in the '70s where we went out on Shaw Ave. to 'Stanley's on Shaw' for Armenian food and a quick drive by the totally unimpressive (then) Cathedral of the DioSJ (remember, I am a convert from the Southeast where the Cathedrals are much older and more impressive). I didn't know then how new the Diocese was.

About the Dying Gaul...He would have been on of my heart throbs, too.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Paul, this is a treat for Mimi, the librarian. I loved reading about your neighbors, and the meat market, and the restaurant where your mom helped out, too.

It's a wonder the fundies haven't demanded the statue's removal.

Paul said...

Especially if they knew how it turns little boys queer!

But fear not, Mimi, there's a fig leaf.

Since I loved every square inch of the Dying Gaul's body, the fig leaf was not much of a deterrent. Happily, I have seen life size versions of the work in museums, to my immense delight. If only I could pull off the old Praxiteles trick....

If any of you yentas out there are husband-searching for me, now you have a visual image to go by.

Earthbound Spirit said...

Another former library worker, here - the visual representations of Dewey are simply stunning! And the statue is gorgeous. My hometown library certainly had nothing like this... Lucky you!

Paul said...

Thanks, Earthbound. You can see why I was utterly ensorceled by this mural - and remain so. The rich colors of the fired tiles, the flowing motifs, the inventiveness of portraying something so abstract: it's all marvelous. I am so glad I got to take photos and share it with all of you.

My memory of the previous library is very hazy - just that it was much smaller, full of books, and once I saw the new one the old one seemed very cramped. It was so exciting to have my own library card. Mom took me there regularly until I was old enough to walk down there on my own.

Alas, as an adult I became acquisitive. I no longer frequent libraries, buying my own copies of everything. I have my own private library but most of it languishes in boxes in the garage. I need more bookshelves (and some purging). One of the "bedrooms" of my house is the library with 7-foot-high shelves lining the opposing long walls. But that barely contains spirituality, history, literature, languages, philosophy, and liturgics. Where am I to put the rest? Politics, science, the arts, reference works, more liturgics, the Bible commentaries and volumes of theology that are not unpacked, and more literature. Cookbooks are in a small folding shelf just outside the dining room and within steps of the kitchen.

There is still wall space in the guest room and my own bedroom. I rather think there should be poetry in every room.

And I should learn to use a library card again. A number of dear friends over the years have been librarians - I do not think it a coincidence.