Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A challenge for Dewey

Today's Columbus Dispatch features an article by Mike Harden (read it here) about unusual items librarians find in returned books (money, condoms, strips of bacon) and in book drops (cats, flowers, mud). I was most surprised, though, by this statement: "Dirty diapers are commonly dumped in book drops."

Who dumps dirty diapers in book drops? And what do they expect librarians to do with them? File them in the stacks at 628 (Sanitary and Municipal Engineering)? Is this an etiquette problem (395, Etiquette and Manners), an ethical problem (177, Ethics of Social Relations), or a mental deficiency (153, Mental Processes and Intelligence)? Or does a problem like this simply defy the powers of the Dewey Decimal System? Would the Library of Congress classification system work any better?

For the benefit of anyone who might be confused about this issue, here are some simple guidelines:

1. Dump the diapers in the trash.
2. Dump the books in the book drop.
3. Take the kid to the library.

See how easy? If this three-step plan does not end the scourge of book-drop diaper-dumping, then file the human race under 574.5: Endangered Species.

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