Why do libraries give special status to novels?

The novel has a special place in libraries…it is removed from the Dewey classification, the 800s, and placed in the fiction section.  In colleges, too, the novel is removed from the Library of Congress system and honored in  a popular fiction area. No doubt, this is for the benefit of patrons who find it much easier to look for the latest Grisham novel in the “Gs” rather than some arcane numerical system that lumps novels into the  country of author mixed  with criticisms and other genres.  But why have libraries failed to do the same with drama and poetry?

Could it be because novels are just common “fiction” but drama and poetry are “literature?”  This was the attitude in the early days when novels were considered lesser works “just” for women whereas the other genres were appropriate for men to study, and even memorize and recite, in the university. Novels only made it into the curriculum relatively recently–perhaps when teaching became more of a female profession?

I pondered these questions as I moved drama and poetry into a new “literature” section along with the novels. Now we have all the literary genres together–not mixed or combined–but together in one area, removed from the 800s. Like novels, and short stories, they are arranged by the author’s last name.

Now, what to do about the rest of the 800s?


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