Imagine walking into a library and finding no one there to help you. No librarians on duty, only books as far as the eye can see. Now imagine those books have no letters or numbers on the spine to help guide you. What a daunting task it would be to try to find the information you seek.

Fortunately most libraries have not only friendly librarians but a system called the Dewey Decimal system to help you make order of the chaos. In fact, Saturday marks Dewey Decimal Day, honoring the birthday of the founder of the Dewey decimal system, librarian Melvil Dewey, born in 1851. Dewey invented his famous system in 1876 as a numerical way to organize books about non-fiction subjects, dividing them into 10 main subject areas, with additional subgroups within each area. Books with numbers in the 000 range cover general interest topics, those in the 100 range are about philosophy and psychology, those in the 200 range are about religion, those in the 300 range cover social sciences and so on. Other subject areas include language (400s), science (500s), technology (600s), arts and recreation (700s), literature (800s) and history and geography (900s).

Navigating a World of Information

While we on the Hillard Heintze Investigative team can’t lay claim to creating a system used in more than 130 countries to locate information quickly and efficiently, I often think of the work we do each day in much the same way. As investigators we help our clients make order out of the chaos of the global information age. We do this through the strategic use of public records databases, court records, interviews, social media and other sources. Often our clients have some idea of the type of information they are looking for but lack the resources, time or know-how to find it on their own.

Of course, given the staggering amount of data generated each and every day worldwide, much of it stored electronically, the challenge of locating specific pieces of information can be far greater than finding a specific volume in an unmarked library would be. In a sense our jobs are similar to those of reference librarians, who seemingly know endless tricks to find trustworthy information of nearly any stripe. But one way our roles differ is that we not only identify key information for our clients but analyze it, piecing together sometimes disparate strands of fact to arrive at a focused picture of a subject’s life, career and business interests – or simply trying to clear up a lingering mystery.

Here to Help

One of the great things about the Dewey Decimal system is that it is easy to use and makes navigating the overwhelming amount of information available at your local library a manageable task. Hopefully, if we do our jobs well, our clients come away with a similar feeling.