Amusing facts about the Mountain View Public Library

The Odyssey is filed under non-fiction. When I asked the girl at the checkout desk about this, she said “That’s weird. That’s, like, science fiction, right?”

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen are filed under fiction, under their author — Baron Munchausen.

The car manuals for Honda Civics are all filed under car manuals, but some years are under “Honda” and others under “Civic.”

The catalogue lists identical books under separate entries, and often multiple copies of the same book are filed in different sections of the library.

Is there a librarian in the house? Anywhere?

(Although to be fair: Apart from the total lack of organization, it’s a remarkably pleasant library. Very good places to sit and read or work.)

Published in: on August 21, 2002 at 23:50  Comments (4)  


  1. The Great Dragon Knows All . . .
    I still say the Odyssey counts as Greek Sci-Fi, like Star Trek. Okay, now I’m getting urges to compare Voyager with the Odyssey . . . at least Janeway was less of a twerp than Odysseus.
    The last person to file Baron Muchausen clearly read the book and mistook it for an embellished autobiography. Or perhaps it’s meant as a joke just to mess with anal people like you who insist on everything being placed exactly right . . . ;P
    Is there any logic to the division of years for the Honda Civic filing? Perhaps the “H” section was so overloaded, thus causing the library to settle unevenly, and to avoid a Pisa they moved some to “C”. Are there similar trends with other cars?
    Re: the multiple filing methods. They must have an ex-Navy person working in that library; it’s clearly set up for maximum redundancy. A very clear case of redundancy.
    Oh, you wanted a librarian . . . disregard this post.

  2. as a person with bookstore experience, i feel comfortable in assuming that the library has placed different copies of the same book in multiple section for the same reason we would–because someone (sometimes even a staff member) would come in and say something along the lines of “hey! this book may be science, but it’s also a travelogue!” and then complain that nobody would know where to look. it’s done with the intention of making things fairly easy to find, but this breaks down when several copies have been checked out, all from the obvious sections, and you’re looking for that last copy that’s in some obscure section.
    am i the only one who misses the old card catalogue system, where we could just put the fekkin’ CARD in multiple sections? but then, i might as well be a card-carrying member of the future librarians of america, so i think i’m supposed to be all boring and reactionary and talk endlessly about the dewy decimal system….
    of course, i don’t know if i even spelled that correctly, so maybe not.

  3. The MV library doesn’t impress me. Sure, the building itself is way nice, but the books seemed uniformly old and not cycled-through, the organization seemed kinda mediocre, and the periodical selection was OK but not great. I suppose if you don’t care about the book collection, it’s not that bad a place.
    FWIW, I miss the card catalog and the older unfriendly-but-fast computer system that some libraries had (like the one where I worked as a teen.)

  4. The old fully text-based computer system on the green or orange monochrome screens with the single-key menu choices? I was so happy when they went to those from the icky microfilm. The html-based ones now are too slow; I don’t need pretty pictures and a web page to find books — that’s why I’m looking for books, for the pictures. 😉

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