Happy Birthday Dewey!

melvil deweyMelvil Dewey, the most famous name in librarianship, was born December 10, 1851. As a 21 year old he created the Dewey Decimal System, which is used in libraries around the world. His interests were wide and varied. In the library arena, he helped establish the American Library Association, co-founded Library Journal, formed a company to sell library supplies, and established the first library school at what was then known as Columbia College.

A proponent of standardization and simplification, Dewey was a fan of the metric system and phonetic spelling. He founded the American Metric Bureau and the Spelling Reform Association. Practicing what he preached, Dewey changed his first name from ‘Melville’ to ‘Melvil,’ and for a time, spelled his last name ‘Dui.’

Dewey founded the Lake Placid Club in Lake Placid, NY, with a later branch in Lake Placid, FL, as a resort for educators. Guests at his clubs ordered their food from menus written in simplified spelling! At the time of his death in 1931, Dewey was actively involved with his son in organizing the 1932 Winter Olympics, which was the first set of winter games held in North America. Dewey’s obituary appeared in the New York Times.

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