to Find Stories to Tell
If you are among those very
fortunate people whose older relatives handed down a complete
repertoire of family stories, folktales, and more, lucky you –
you can stop reading this article right now.
However, if you are more like me
– a lover of stories who was not raised on an oral diet of
retold folktales, it’s time to visit your public library.
In the mid-1870s Melvil Dewey created a classification system for
organizing the books and catalog of the library at Amherst College.
The Dewey Decimal
System, now used in libraries worldwide, organizes books by subject.
However, this does not mean books of interest to storytellers will
all show up side-by-side on library shelves. Why? Because storytellers
have broad interests and because storytelling is useful in many
Here’s a list to help you browse
the nonfiction section of your public library. Just as
car sales stickers state, “your mileage may vary,” your
library may not have made these exact decisions, so if you aren’t
finding something, ask your librarians.
027.6 In this section are books
about libraries for children, so some storytelling resources may
be found here.
133.1 Ghosts and other hauntings
220 Bibles and Bible Stories
282 My public library shelves
stories about the saints in this section on Roman Catholicism. Your
library may use 922.22, in the collected biographies
290s This is where you will find
information on religions, other than Christianity. You’ll
find Greek and Roman mythology in 292. You’ll
also find the faith stories of many, many religions. (Yes, the Dewey
Decimal system is a bit biased with 201—289
allocated to Christianity and all other religions in the 290s.)
372.642 Books on storytelling
can be found here amidst books about elementary education.
398 Folklore -- If you go nowhere
else, go here. 398.2 for folktales, fairy tales,
and other narratives. 398.6 for riddles. 398.8
for rhymes. 398.9 for proverbs.
649.58 Books on storytelling
can be found here with books on child rearing.
782.1 Opera, including books
with the plots/stories told in operas.
792.8 Ballet, including books
with the plots/stories told in ballets.
808.543 Books on storytelling
can be found here with books on creating speeches.
808.83 Ghost and horror stories.
817 & 818 In my public library,
these sections include such diverse literary offerings as short
stories by Mark Twain and Saki and collections of Appalachian humor
by Billy Edd Wheeler and Loyal Jones.
920s Biographies. Your library
may shelve biographies with other nonfiction books or in a separate
location. Biographies are arranged by the last name of the person
whose life is the subject of the biography. Collected biographies,
biographies containing information about more than one person, are
shelved according to Dewey Decimal number.
Don’t forget to use these same Dewey
Decimal numbers to explore the reference section and the children’s
and young adult sections of your library. Enjoy your library tour.
Good luck with your browsing.
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Mary Hamilton has earned her living telling stories and pondering
how the art of storytelling works since 1983. Learn more about
work at http://www.maryhamilton.info
Hamilton, Professional Storyteller
65 Springhill Road, Frankfort, KY 40601-9211