Classification frustration

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A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that the Denver Public Library had given Recreating Eden a Dewey-Decimal classification that didn’t fit it. It was 248.4, which is listed as “Christian experience, practice, life.” Now, while all but the most fundamental, “the Bible is literally true” Christian would probably be fine with my book, and while it does quote the master teacher, Jesus, Recreating Eden is NOT a Christian book. And I do not want for people of other religions to miss finding it because they’d never look in a Christian section. So I emailed the main library and asked them if it could be changed. I received a very nice note from the librarian in charge of such matters, who said she was quite willing to change it, but what did I want her to change it to?

Hmmm…I didn’t know, so she gave me a couple of possibilities and I decided the thing to do was go to the library and look on the shelves and see where it belonged. When she told me the categories, I thought they might fit, but when I looked at the books that were grouped there, I didn’t think either one was right. I looked for quite awhile, and almost despaired, but finally settled on a number, based on what else was there. When I got home and looked up what that classification is, 291, it says, “comparative religions.” Sigh.I can't remember specifically what books were classified 291--seems like something by Deepak Chopra and maybe Julia Cameron--didn't seem like comparative religion, but if comparative religion is what that number is about, I wouldn’t put Recreating Eden in that category, either!

What all this brought home to me is a couple of things: 1) categorizing a book that is ecumenical (some version of the story of the Fall of Man from the Garden of Eden is found in the sacred texts of most major religions), and that is spiritual, but not religious, that is self-help, but not psychology, it is about humanity’s history, but it is not an anthropology book—basically, a book that covers as wide a range of issues as Recreating Eden does, is quite a challenge! And, 2) perhaps I am too close to the book to be the one that classifies it! I can hardly even objectively explain what it is about in terms that a librarian might use to classify it. It is about everything. At least in my mind and heart it is! Hmmm…I wonder if there is a Dewey classification for “everything!” By the way, there is no classification for “ascension” or "Heaven on Earth" that I was able to find, but there IS one for “good and evil.” I’m thinking since Recreating Eden is about rising out of the duality matrix and transcending the realm of the concept of good and evil, that might not be quite right, either!

I found the first non-familial, non spam comment on the blog today! It was a thrill! I found it posted to the entry before last and never even thought to check for comments last night as I was so bleary-eyed when I was posting, I could barely even get the post written and blogged. But something called me to go check today, and there it was--a nice greeting from yet another wonderful woman who found the blog via Ellen Kennon! LOVE it! Hi, Peggie--hope you find my reply to your comment!

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Tony Roberts said:

Book catagorization has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Your book cover says SELF HELP/SPIRITUAL but what's a librarian to do with that? Self help? Spiritual? Somewhere in between.
There are the various Publishers Cataloging in Publication services (, for one) where you can hire a professional cataloger to help come up with a category. But what if that doesn't suit you either.
Having cataloging in publication data in the book can help sell your book to libraries because it makes their job in shelving it a little easier, but it doesn't necessarily help them get it on the right shelf.
And I'm still stumped about which shelf that is.

Julia said:

If only it were as simple as ""spiritual"" or ""self-help"" or confusion between the two. There aren't even Dewey classifications for those!
I'm beginning to regret ever putting ""self-help"" on there. Newbie that I was, I didn't realize that was passe' and that it would exclude me from getting reviewed in the NY Times (of course, the fact that it is published by a tiny publisher was another factor that would have put us out of the running, no matter the genre!)
I have an idea, my dear webmaster--why don't YOU read Recreating Eden and see what you come up with?

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This page contains a single entry by Julia published on January 26, 2005 4:56 AM.

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