Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dewey or Don't We

I've been thinking recently about the Dewey Decimal System. I visited Upper St. Clair Library last week and had a ball getting a tour of the recently renovated Children's Department from the generous Debra Conn and Colleen Miles. At USC, they break out a good bit of their collection to make 'shopping' for books a bit easier on parents and children. It's definitely got a bookstore feel to it, which I think is spectacular! Sometimes, that's a nightmare for catalogers and shelvers, but the library should be fit to the customer, and by breaking out the collection (historical fiction, easy non-fiction, advanced picture books, etc.) users feel more empowered to navigate the library on their own and find the books they want. I've certainly walked into more than one library and felt pretty lost. Rarely does that happen to me in a bookstore however. Good signage and genre-fied organization. Where are the gardening books? Oh, under that 'Gardening' sign. What about Chick Lit? Right over there. Obviously, if I can't find a book on my own, I can find a bookseller to help me. But I feel empowered to give it a shot on my own. At many libraries, because we've created our own unique system (beneficial in MANY ways!) our patrons don't often feel that sense of empowerment when they walk into our libraries.

There has been some movement in libraryland away from Dewey. A library out in Arizona, The Perry Branch of the Maricopa County Library System, for example uses the BISAC (Book Industry Study Group) Subject Headings with over 50 categories. There's even a virtual tour on their blog (linked above) so you can see how it all looks!


Kathy said...

The BISAC'ing of several branches of the Maricopa County Library System was a breakfast talk at PaLA this year. Although I knew it was happening in libraries across the country I hadn't heard how it was being received, and according to Harry Courtright, Director/County Librarian of the Maricopa system it's being very well received - something to think about for the future . . .