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.

3 comments

  1. 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?

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