Libraries communicate information and cater to diverse patrons. Libraries’ users are called patrons, not customers. In fact, communication is to create meaning and understanding between people, and the libraries play a pivotal role in simplifying that meaning and imparting it in a plain way. Ever since the first library was erected in Mesopotamia (Iraq, where the world’s first civilization originated), the libraries have been communicating and connecting with communities to provide them with needed information of different formats, be they print, audio, or visual.
Ideas generate other ideas. The modern libraries have built on the first library established by Sumerians, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, who created, organized, and archived library materials. However, the word “library” comes from the latin, liber, meaning “book.” The Sumerians put a great emphasis on business and legal communication, so most materials their libraries held were business and legal documents. Some preserved documents left by them are intact to this day.
Like Mesopotamia, the modern world has heavily invested in creating, curating, and classifying information in order to establish a better communication among individuals and communities so that they benefit from each other. Some generate information; others disseminate it, while others use it. All benefit in one or another. In fact, libraries are a holistic hub for dispensing information of all sorts. They hold all kinds of items, in all subject areas.
To communicate their holdings effectively, the libraries use two methods of classifications: Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress. The former is fairly common; the latter is geared towards academic institutions: colleges and universities. And there are four kinds of libraries: public library, school library, academic library, and corporate library. Each has its niche and sphere, but all have one thing in common: acquiring new items and weeding out unwanted ones.
The Dewey Decimally system is mostly used for classifying items of public and school libraries. It is a system which puts knowledge under subject specific areas, giving each area a unique number, which branches out into sub-numbers. Here are the subject areas: 000 Generalities; 100 Philosophy & psychology; 200 Religion; 300 Social sciences; 400 Language; 500 Natural sciences & mathematics; 600 Technology (Applied sciences); 700 The arts; 800 Literature & rhetoric, and 900 Geography & history.
Apart from fiction, periodicals, and audio/visuals, all libraries’ holdings fall under one of these above stated categories. And people who work in the libraries acquire, organize, and archive the materials so as to effectively communicate information to the public.