Monday, August 06, 2007

Dis-ing Dewey

Somehow, when I wasn't looking I became an old unhip woman. I know this because I am in awe of the Dewey Decimal System. I love it so much that I named my dog after the man who created this classification system, Melvil Dewey. Melvil even has a dog collar with a Dewey Decimal number. I am coveting a t-shirt that says, "What Would Dewey Do." I think Dewey is dandy.

Recently two different libraries in Arizona ditched Dewey in favor of a classification system used by bookstores. They love it, and many librarians are applauding their decision, and some even have been wearing buttons with slash marks through Dewey's name. (I am clutching my old lady librarian's heart as I write this entry).

We can learn a lot from bookstores, especially regarding marketing, displays, and signage. But I am skeptical that their organizational system is superior to Dewey. The relationship of the subjects and their placement in the store is a mystery to me. I don't get why my local chain bookstore shelves "Anime" next to "Cookbooks." (Are teenage boys into Paula Deen?) It also seems that a book's location is not set in stone; my local chain bookstore likes to move things around. I usually go into a bookstore looking for a specific title and I am seldom able to find it; and by the way, it drives me crazy that there is no public catalog.

I will admit that Dewey is not perfect, but I am not convinced that this classification system is a dog.

Dewey Disciple,
Cindy Fuerst
Library Director (021.5)


Blogger jdscott50 said...

Our library's youth librarian named her dog dewey as well. It is certainly an obsession with librarians :)

August 08, 2007 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From my readings of this change in these Arizona libraries, what makes non-Dewey "superior" is that it meets their community needs - a core value for our profession.

And in a 21st century world where few young students are taught to become mini-librarians becuase school librarians barely exist anymore, but are taught to search and find books through bookstore displays and browsing and online resources through Google keyword searches - those Arizona libraries make sense to me!

August 22, 2007 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100% about meeting the communities needs! However, I think it is kind of sad "that students are taught to search and find books through bookstore displays." That doesn't seem like the most efficient way to do research, but maybe the collection is not intended to support research. You may not be a fan of Dewey, but you have to admit that there is some logic behind it.

August 23, 2007 8:16 AM  

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