Ok, so no - I haven't made the trip to Washington DC to sneakily run about reshelving junk science. Nor have I hacked into the Library of Congress (LoC) computer system to reclassify stuff. No. What I have been doing is talking via email with some very helpful and responsive staff of the LoC to determine why in bookstores, local libraries, and in the LoC itself, some intelligent design books are in science, while others are in religion/teleology/etc. - and how I can go about changing this.
This has the potential to get to the core of the bookstores apparent confusion...
I decided to focus my initial efforts at first on Behe's two books (LoC full records are
"The class number is based on the first subject heading, and subject cataloging/classification is subjective. We also catalog books based on what they indicate they are. They may not have presented themselves as books on creationism."
So if Darwin's Black Box was presented to the LoC as a scientific critique of evolution, and the book appears to be science, then it is taken as such. One of the hallmarks of ID and creationism is the scientific obfuscation they engage in, trying to pass off their personal beliefs as hard science, and gain scientific credibility in the process. Has creationism been successful in sneaking into our public libraries and stores as science via this route?
I pointed out to our friendly librarian that these books are indeed creationism, and asked how I could go about getting the reclassified. This was the response:
"We catalog it as the book tends to indicate it is. We do not go back unless we are totally wrong based on the book itself. What does this book indicate? If it indicates it is a hard science, then that's how we treat it. ... Unless there is evidence in the book itself that the 1st, most important topic is creationism, what we have stands. And it must be about creationism itself, not tangentially related."
Since Behe's Darwin's Black Box was at the forefront of the resurgence of creationism, and concludes God is at work, therefore is not science - I am confident Behe's books meet these criteria. I argue my case to the librarian and he forwards our conversation upstairs to the Cataloging Policy & Support Office of the Library of Congress. I feel like I am getting somewhere!
A few weeks later I get a response:
"In 2006, the Library of Congress established a new classification number in the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) at QH367.3 for "Critical works" on evolution. The scope note says, "Class here works that argue against the theory of evolution." Behe's most recent work, "The edge of evolution : the search for the limits of Darwinism" (2007) was just classed in that number."
This makes sense as to why we find Behe's new book in science in libraries and bookstores, though I am far from happy. A special classification has been created within science:biology (the 'QH's) for works critical of evolution. One would think that books in this class would be critical of evolution from a scientific standpoint, not a religious, theological, or philosophical one. But, according to the LoC, if it's about science, it goes in Science.
"A 1996 book, "Darwin's black box : the biochemical challenge to evolution" was classed in QH325, "Origin and beginnings of life" at that time. LC's copy of that book is currently in circulation, but we intend to examine it when it is returned to see if it should be reclassed to QH367.3 or another appropriate classification."
Well, I might have done some good here afterall. Behe's Darwin's Black Box is currently classed as "Molecular Evolution" and "Evolution (biology)", with no mention at all of its real subject. The LoC CPSO is going to see if it deserves to be a part of this new class.
Creationism is sneaking in the back door to sit side-by-side with science. I feel that a new class number within science is not only wrong, but more than a little bit disingenuous. Does anyone know who was behind this new classification of ID books?
I encourage all readers to independently contact the LoC about this issue. Here is a link to "Ask a librarian" for science and technology. When you ask a question you have to sign in and your questions and conversations with librarians are all saved. It's all rather good and easy to use. I have found these people to be polite, patient, and responsive, also. Go for it!
Anyway, that's all I have for now. Happy reshelving.