Libraries as Hot Spots for Science and Technology Exploration
Dewey Decimal Classification —600s Applied Sciences and Technology
By Guest Contributor Linda Maxie
In the Dewey Decimal Classification system, the call numbers 600-699 house the Applied Sciences and Technology section, the second of the two science divisions. In the last post, I covered the 500s, which encompasses the Natural Sciences. In this feature piece, I explore books on humanity’s attempts to improve on the natural sciences for the purpose of enhancing our lives.
Some of the subdivisions in this section may surprise you:
• 600-609 General Books on Technology
• 610-619 Medicine and Health
• 620-629 Engineering and Allied Operations
• 630-639 Agriculture and Related Technologies
• 640-649 Home and Family Management
• 650-659 Management and Auxiliary Services (Business management)
• 660-669 Chemical Engineering
• 670-679 Manufacturing
• 680-689 Manufacture of Products for Specific Uses
• 690-699 Construction of Buildings
While this entire division is amply stocked in most public libraries, the subdivisions above vary tremendously in size. The categories for medicine, engineering, home management (which includes cookbooks), and business management are the largest ones.
In the early days of the DDC and public libraries, the chemical engineering and the manufacturing subdivisions may have been well-represented, depending on the library’s location and the population it served. But in many libraries today, these are small sections.
STEAM and Makerspaces
I discussed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiatives in the last post. In this one, we’ll briefly touch on STEAM (which adds Art to STEM) and makerspaces.
STEAM and makerspaces generally refer to the same types of offerings. To be clear, STEAM in this post relates to educational initiatives, not Steam gaming services.
While still offering computers, books, and other materials, libraries can also provide tools, space, and supplies for making various crafts or products depending on what the local community needs or desires. Some may offer only quilting supplies while others may offer computer components. Makerspaces are rooms or corners that house the tools and the space to work on projects.
These offerings are sometimes called “Hackerspaces” or “Fab Labs.” And in addition to crafting supplies, they may offer robotics or games. Some libraries, like the one in Plano, Texas, have 50 or so STEAM “kits” for families to check out and work on at home together. They also offer STEAM activity books. Other libraries may offer STEAM or makerspace classes.
A few examples of the sorts of equipment makerspaces provide are in the Arlington Public Library in Texas. With a library card, patrons can use sewing machines, craft materials, or a variety of popular crafts, 3D printers, and heat presses.
Makerspaces aren’t unique to libraries. They can be offered in community centers or anywhere there is a need. However, libraries make a good fit because they expand services to the community the library already serves.
If any of these offerings sound good, please check with your public library to see if they have makerspaces or STEAM materials available.
Books from the Technology Division
The following books are taken from Chapter 7, “Applied Sciences and Technology,” in Library Lin’s Curated Collection of Superlative Nonfiction which is available on Amazon and bookshop.org.
Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America, 2006 by Giles Slade
Giles Slade discloses how planned obsolescence became a business model and way of life for our nation. He provides ample evidence of our disposable culture’s harmful impact on the world.
Big Brother in the Exam Room: The Dangerous Truth about Electronic Health Records, 2018 by Twila Brase
Twila Brase alerts us to the dangers of the government’s electronic health record experiment. The HIPAA forms you sign in your doctor’s office do not protect your health data. On the contrary, she says that entire industries profit from it. In her book she reveals the steps you must take to protect your privacy and safety.
The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World, 2018 by Simon Winchester
Simon Winchester proves the Industrial Age in Great Britain could not have happened without precise, standardized measurements. Early engineers like John Wilkinson and Joseph Whitworth made discoveries that changed the world forever. And in the digital age, these breakthroughs are made globally. Winchester asks how precision and nature ultimately coexist.
The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier, 2019 by Ian Urbina
In some ways, our oceans are similar to Waterworld, the 1995 sci-fi film starring Kevin Costner. Most of them are under no authority, and they are prey to criminal activity and exploitation. After five years of investigation, author Ian Urbina brings us a disturbing picture of oil dumpers, poachers, pirates, and slave traders.
Everyone Can Bake: Simple Recipes to Master and Mix, 2020 by Dominique Ansel
If you dream of creating unique baked desserts, renowned pastry chef Dominique Ansel shows you how to do it. After becoming a baker’s apprentice in France at 16, he achieved celebrity for creating frozen s’mores and the Cronut, among other desserts. Ansel provides step-by-step instructions and helpful baking tips that will have you baking like a pro.
Principles: Life and Work, 2017 By Ray Dalio
After growing up in a middle-class Long Island home, Ray Dalio began the investment firm Bridgewater Associates. Since its inception, the company has grown, according to Fortune magazine, into the fifth most important private company in the U.S. Dalio shares the secrets of his firm’s success, which he believes will help anyone make better decisions for life and business.
Craft Distilling: Making Liquor Legally at Home, 2016 by Victoria Redhed Miller
Victoria Redhed Miller shows how to make legal liquor safely, with step-by- step recipes. And she takes you through the licensing process in both the U.S. and Canada.
The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History, 2019 By Kassia St. Clair
In a narrative going back over 30,000 years, Kassia St. Clair relates what we know about fabric history. She covers the stories behind acclaimed fabrics like silk and materials made to help people survive in harsh climates like outer space. In addition, the cloth making industry and the social and economic impacts fabrics have had on humanity worldwide are examined.
The Cult of LEGO, 2011 by John Baichtal and Joe Meno
Brichtal and Meno celebrate LEGO bricks and the people who love them. They share photographs and the stories behind those who use LEGO bricks to recreate everything from World War II battleships to M. C. Escher lithographs.
Treehouse Chronicles: One Man’s Dream of Life Aloft, 2008 By S. Peter Lewis
S. Peter Lewis narrates his adventure of building his treehouse in Maine. He celebrates both the experience and the wildlife he encounters while working.
Linda Maxie is a retired librarian passionate about good books. She is the author of Library Lin’s Curated Collection of Superlative Nonfiction and her blog, The Nonfiction Section. You can contact her at https://librarylin.com