Know Your History – 10th December – Melvil Dewey born

know your history - writingOn this day… 10th December, 1851 – Melvil Dewey born

Melville Louis Kossuth (Melvil) Dewey (December 10, 1851 – December 26, 1931) was an American librarian and educator, inventor of the Dewey Decimal system of library classification, and a founder of the Lake Placid Club.


Dewey was a pioneer in American librarianship and an influential figure in the development of libraries in America in the late 19th and early the 20th century. He is best known for the decimal classification system that many public and school libraries use. But the decimal system was just one of a long list of innovations. Among these is the idea of the state library as controller of school and public library services within a state. Melvil Dewey - library.png

In Boston, Massachusetts, he founded the Library Bureau, a private company “for the definite purpose of furnishing libraries with equipment and supplies of unvarying correctness and reliability.” Dewey’s Library Bureau Company is also said to have introduced hanging vertical files, first seen at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.

Did You Know?

In New York, Melvil Dewey had “initiated a program of traveling libraries-collections of one hundred books sent to communities without public libraries.”

His efforts spurred other state organizations and private individuals to create traveling libraries. Increased library services to small or rural communities and underserved populations fortified the efforts of many to seek out education and self-improvement.