I have SO much information to share with you that I’m going to have to break it up over a series of posts, but for now I want to talk about a major change in the library.
For anyone who has used a library in the past 100+ years you’ve probably used the Dewey Decimal System (DDC) to find a book. And after books, it is probably the second most identifiable word associated with libraries. When people learn that I went to graduate school for information and library science, they always ask, jokingly I hope, if I just took classes in the Dewey Decimal System. It is a classification system that has done an admirable job in the library for many, many years.
And now I’m ditching it. Gone! Kaput! Outta here!
Why? The big thing I want to do here at OVS is encourage reading, both fiction and non-fiction, and to make research a bit easier. Freeing up the books from Dewey will help facilitate both things. Dewey is sometimes wonky, makes it difficult to browse, and is not really all that intuitive to use. Sure, things are grouped by topic, for the most part, but what would make it easier for a student to browse: going to the catalog, looking up a number, then going to the shelves to find that number OR going to a shelf that is clearly labeled with a topic. For example, I am setting up sections for all things literature, which are normally in the 800s for Dewey. With the new organizational system, I’ve come up with a couple of subject headings, including:
Now if a student wants to find a poetry book, they just go to the poetry section and browse the books, ideally organized by author’s last name. Doing a project on Shakespeare, just go to the Shakespeare section. You don’t have to look up a number, remember it, and then go retrieve it.
Another big reason I am doing this is because we are undergoing a ton of changes, weeding a lot of books, and (potentially) implementing a new circulation system, so now is the time to make such a switch.
If I’m honest with you, I have always been quite dubious of ditching Dewey. When I had my first real conversation about it with fellow librarian and former co-worker Pam Harland, I was very much on Dewey’s side. I came from the school of, “If it ain’t broke…” but then I saw her implement it at her school and saw real world application. Her circulation numbers exploded and her students love it.
There has been a great deal written about this topic, both good and bad, so check out the links below, search online for further information, or talk to me about it; it makes for lively discussion.
- A Brief Word about the Dewey Decimal System (lostintheshelves.wordpress.com)
- Do we Dewey? Yes we do… (brotennancy.wordpress.com)
- To Dewey or Not to Dewey (readmegirl.wordpress.com)