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?


(Quality) Information is not free

Some recent articles contradict the common belief that all information is now available free on the Internet, and the mantra that “information wants to be free.”

Here is a study that shows how easy it is to “publish” inaccurate scientific research in open-source scientific journals.

And, this article details the “decline of Wikipedia.”  This is especially dangerous since Wikipedia articles appear first in most Google searches.

This comes as companies such as The Washington Post and The New York Times increasingly charge users to access their content with paywalls.

What is the answer?  Librarians need to do more to promote the “invisible internet.”  That is, subscription databases such as ProQuest that just about any public library and every college library subscribes to.  Unfortunately, using these resources is not as easy as Googling it, and users want quick answers in this Twitter age.  But, perhaps it is time to be more intentional and thoughtful in our research, as the President of the University of Florida urged in his recent commencement speech.