The recent publication of the official biography of Melvil Dewey—called by the editor a “biographic compilation,” and to my mind a most disappointing book, in which, amidst the appreciations and eulogies of his friends and admirers, the real man makes only a fitful appearance—suggests that my own random reminiscences of this great librarian may not be untimely, or without interest to those—and they are legion—who know him only as the author of the Decimal Classification. The reaction which has set in in regard to that system of classification, shewn by the adverse criticisms which are nowadays appearing, some of them well‐founded, others based on a different view of the purpose of book classification to that which he held, tends to obscure the immense value of his contributions in this field, which remain unaffected by these criticisms. His achievement was to demonstrate to all the world that close classification of books was an entirely practicable thing. He made the classification of documents acceptable to the librarian, the bibliographer, the scientist, the literary man, the technician, the business office, and the private student and man of affairs. That is his main title to our gratitude and admiration, and that will remain even if the D.C. is swept out to the dust heap.
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