Sunday, December 28, 2014
DC vs. The Dewey Decimal System, Round Two
Entitled "Bats, Books and Crazy Crooks," this Jeff Parker-written, Richard Case-drawn comic is a lot of fun. Bookworm and his beatnik henchmen muscle their way in to the Gotham Public Library at closing time in an attempt to steal its rarest book, The Cleoveritas, "a repository of occult knowledge." His plan is to force Gordon to open the display case for him, but she runs off into the stacks, in order to transform into her crimefighting alter-ego.
There's just one teensy-weensy problem with the story, which, if you are a librarian yourself, you may notice in the panel below:
Now 681 is the call number for "precision instruments and other devices," although it's standard for the number to have a subdivision added to it (681.1, for example, would be the Dewey number for clocks). The book Bookworm is holding in his hand is entitled How Locks Work; locks would fall under call number 683, for "hardware and household appliances" and "comprehensive works on manufacture of hardware or building supplies."
Specifically, it should be in 683.3, "locksmithing," where you'd find books on locks that would include diagrams and detailed information on how they work.
So that brings us to the important question—who is as fault here? Did Bookworm bring that particular book with him, and just misspoke when he said it belongs under the call number of 681? As we've seen in the past, Bookworm has a rather idiosyncratic way of cataloging and organizing books when he's the one in charge of doing so.
Or did Bookworms find that book on the shelf at GPL, and it was therefore head librarian Barbara Gordon's fault that a book that should be under 683.3 was under 681? This seems unlikely, as Gordon is a conscientious enough a librarian that even when she's forced to throw books into the mouths of giant monster beatnik silverfish-men in order to keep them from devouring her, she's careful to use the activity as an excuse to weed the collection a bit.
The other alternative? Maybe writer Jeff Parker just goofed, and editor Jim Chadwick missed it. That seems most likely, but oh so preventable, as anyone can call or walk into any public library and ask the reference librarians there what the Dewey Decimal number for locks would be...