The Library Hotel and Labeling Rooms

I’m reading and cautiously enjoying Everything is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger’s newish book. It’s not the most gripping read, but it’s skillfully written, well-researched and occasionally insightful.

In a section on information gatekeepers, I was amused to read how, in 2003, the owners of the Dewey Decimal system sued New York’s Library Hotel for labeling their floors and rooms after topics from Dewey:

The hotel opened three years ago at Madison Avenue and 41st Street. From its imitation card catalog in the lobby to its stately second-floor reading room, it is designed as a siren for book lovers. Each floor is devoted to one of the 10 main categories of knowledge in the Dewey system: Social Sciences, Languages, Math and Science, Technology, the Arts, Literature, History and Geography, General Knowledge, Philosophy and Religion.

Hotel guests can request a specific floor or themed room, furnished with the corresponding books. History buffs might consider the ninth floor, with Biography (900.006) or Asian History (900.004). A technology aficionado might give Computers (600.005) a try.

As it turns out, the OCLC and the hotel settled out of court. You can see a complete list of their room and floor names on Wikipedia.


  1. Room five on the eleventh floor sounds like an ideal premise for a B-level horror, thriller. Somebody should set the remake for Clue here.

  2. It’s remarkable how many things are copyrighted or trademarked that we wouldn’t expect. The Dewey Decimal system? Do regular libraries pay a royalty for using it? Is the different scheme used by UBC’s library, for instance, also licensed, or is it, uh, open source?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: