Library dumps Dewey Decimal System

While not exactly on point, this is still an indication of how things are changing in the book world. I always liked the Dewey system and never found it difficult to use. But maybe there’s something wrong with me. From Library Stuff with the original article here:

Picture 1.pngAn Adams County library district is dumping the Dewey Decimal Classification system for organizing its books in favor of one that is considered more user-friendly.

Rangeview Library District Pam Sandlian Smith said the retail-based system called WordThink encourages browsing and is more intuitive than the classification system developed by Melvil Dewey in the 1870s.

The new system, which breaks down books into about 45 alphabetical categories, will be used at all six of the district’s libraries and its outreach office by the end of the year.

A spokeswoman at the American Library Association says the group doesn’t keep statistics on how many libraries might be moving away from the Dewey system.

4 Comments on Library dumps Dewey Decimal System

  1. Dewey is great for researchers, professors, and serious book people and not so great for the casual users that community libraries serve.

  2. I read about this trend earlier and couldn’t figure out why they didn’t just stick section labels onto the Dewey-decimaled stacks. For example, you could have a “biology” section, and then within that biology section, all of the books would be in their proper Dewey order. That way, you could reach both the readers who want broad categories and the readers who want to find more specific subjects, such as marine biology.

  3. Dusk: That is what I was thinking. Why not use both? The library catalogues are on computers after all, and categorisation really is arbitrary.

    Why not have kiosks with multiple indexing schemes and simple digital maps to the book’s location?

    If the catalogue were freely downloadable, people could load it and the maps onto their device of choice and use that to locate books. HTML works fine on my phone, and I have made maps of whole cities for it. I cannot see how a map of a library would be difficult.

  4. LuYu wrote:

    “If the catalogue were freely downloadable, people could load it and the maps onto their device of choice and use that to locate books.”

    We may see that in the future, but at the moment, I think we can’t assume that the average library user is that tech-savvy or (since libraries often cater to poor people) arriving armed with handheld computers.

    Your post makes me feel nostalgic, though, because I remember back in the days when the hot thing in library science was microfiche catalogs. There was that same sense of, “Look! We can do things better than in the past!”

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