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Akbani is a Cutchi Memon family name.

February 03, 2008

Organization of Knowledge or On Arranging Books by Color

Left: Conway Library, London. Right: Witt Library, London. Photographs by Candida Höfer, 2003-5. (Via The Nonist.)
Rob Giampietro: On Arranging Books by Color

When it comes to the organization of knowledge, a lot is revealed by the system of organization that's used. For most serious academic libraries in America, the organizational system of choice was invented in 1874 by Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey (or Melvil Dui, as he liked to spell it), who was an assistant librarian at Amherst College when his eponymous system was devised.

... One of the words that would have caught Dewey's eye was "colour" — or, more patriotically spelled, "color" — and on this subject Dewey's opinions were perhaps a bit unorthodox. Later in his life, Dewey sponsored several pamphlets about Ro, a language created by Rev. Edward Powell Foster in which words are constructed using a categorical system similar to Dewey's own system for books. In Ro, words starting with "bofo-" are color words, as in "bofoc" for red (c=crimson?), and "bofof" for yellow (f=who knows?). Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it? Replace the color words of this lovely final line from Robert Haas's poem "The Problem of Describing Color,"

Red, I said. Sudden, red.

with its Ro equivalents:

Bofoc, I said. Sudden, bofoc. .. continue reading Design Observer: writings about design & culture.

And, an interesting comment by a reader of the above article:

This brings to mind a story about the late Sufi writer Idries Shah. Someone visiting his house in England was found by an associate in the library, trying to make sense out of the strange assortment of books on the shelves. The associate smiled and explained: "You assumed these books could give you an indication of Shah's tastes in reading. In fact they're there to give him an indication about you. I expect your eye has run along these titles when you've been in this room with Shah. You can take it that all the titles you passed over, or paused at, were noted by him and helped in an assessment of YOU".

Posted by: james souttar

Info courtesy: by brigmlt

see also:
  • Arranging Books by size
  • Books by size
  • 1 comment:

    Sukhdev Singh said...

    I will accept that if is the 'most helpful sequence' from the readers' point of view. Do we have such a situation where readers would be browsing library stacks by 'color'?

    Well, it is a helpful sequence for me at home - in my almirah for my cloths. My wife does that well. There also she classifies shirts, pants and socks separately. But books - she keeps them by size and not by color. Remember she is a better librarian (without degree) as compared to me.