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Old 08-13-2003, 12:30 AM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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Why is poetry shelved with non-fiction?

Poetry, like fiction, is created by its author out of whole cloth. Unlike non-fiction, it does not (usually) attempt to convey factual information. So why, in most libraries I've been to, are poetry books interfiled in the 800 section, rather than nestled among the fiction sorted by author's last name?

I think this question just applies to libraries using the Dewey Decimal classification system; so far as I remember, the Library of Congress system doesn't segregate fiction from non-fiction.
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Old 08-13-2003, 12:59 AM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Because, in the Dewey decimal system, the 800s are for literature. 811 is poetry, 812 is drama, 813 is prose fiction.

Most libraries just make a seperate section for fiction because they usually have a lot of fiction books and it's popular. Poetry, which is not as heavilly circulated as prose fiction, doesn't get its own section.

There's a list of the Dewey categories.
Old 08-13-2003, 01:26 AM
Tamex Tamex is offline
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Location: Minnesota
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I worked in the library in college, and all of our Dewey Decimal fiction books were shelved in the 800's as well (The library had officially stopped using Dewey Decimal long ago, and all new books were categorized by the Library of Congress system, but, rather than renumber all the old books, they just shelved them in a special section, which I assume is being glacially weeded out over time. ) A lot of those books, IIRC, actually said "81" on the spine, and we shelved 81's where 810 would go.

I think that public libraries, which are more likely to use Dewey in this day and age, tend to shelve fiction separately because it is convenient...when people ask "Where is the fiction section?", they have a section to point to, rather than trying to guide them over to the 800's (which is technically, IIRC, "Literature"...are Star Wars novels, etc. "literature"? I think that the public librarian really would rather not enter that debate, either.)
Old 08-13-2003, 01:31 AM
BobT BobT is offline
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Location: The Golden State
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Fiction makes up the bulk of all adult materials checked out in any public library. However books on tape may actually be catching up to books soon enough.

Poetry is not nearly as popular, but it beats out short story collections or essays. The only sections in "Literature" that seem to get a lot of use are plays (mainly for students studying Shakespeare) and humor.

No matter how you organize it or arrange it, someone will be unhappy. You can break out the fiction by genre and that will always tick someone off.
Old 08-13-2003, 02:23 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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BobT: How do you figure that books on tape is a growth section in libraries? I've never noticed them.

You can break out the fiction by genre and that will always tick someone off.
Especially if you insist on shelving Rendezvous With Rama next to Dragon Battle Axe Storm V: The Bloodening.

"Ridicule is the only weapon that can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them."
If you don't stop to analyze the snot spray, you are missing that which is best in life. - Miller
I'm not sure why this is, but I actually find this idea grosser than cannibalism. - Excalibre, after reading one of my surefire million-seller business plans.
Old 08-13-2003, 08:19 AM
lauramarlane lauramarlane is offline
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Location: Rhode Island
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Books on tape (and CD) is a growth section in my library. I would think it varies depending on the community the library serves. Our patrons like them and they circulate pretty regularly. Because we have such a good selection, I've started listening to them on my commute and they're great for the kids on long car trips.
[/shameless plug for books on tape]
Old 08-13-2003, 08:54 AM
SmackFu SmackFu is offline
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Naugatuck, CT
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Similar to what Tamex said, our college library used the Library of Congress system, and shelved all books together. Fiction was just a section, like all the other non-fictions ones. As was poetry and short story compilations.
Old 08-13-2003, 11:11 AM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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Location: Washougal, WA
Posts: 2,953
Thanks, everyone. I hadn't remembered (duh!) that separating fiction was a library-level choice, not a Dewey-level one, and it does make a lot of sense from a practical standpoint.


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