No Dewey?

A few weeks ago, it was reported that the newest branch of the Maricopa County Library District would be organizing its shelves without the use of the Dewey Decimal System.  I have to admit, I didn’t think this was a particularly good idea.  The thinking was that patrons are more comfortable with how book stores organize their stuff, and that we should therefore do the same.

Now, I’ve been to many, many bookstores – most notably Barnes and Noble – in many, many cities.  (I’m apparently psysiologically incapable of passing one up.)  There have been a number of these trips in which I’ve wanted a specific item and have been unable to find it, so I’ve asked for staff assistance.  They will look the item up in their computer system, and then will be unable to find it themselves.  Needless to say, I’m rather unimpressed with the organizational system that doesn’t even allow the people who work there to find specific items.  Browsing?  Sure.

So, along comes this interesting post from Dan Messer, writing for the LISNews blog.  So far, so good, according to Dan.

Almost all the shelves in the library are shorter than the average library shelf. You can easily see from one end of the branch to the other. Laser printed signs designated areas of interest from Fiction to Mystery to Science to Art and beyond. The only thing detracting from a true bookstore atmosphere is the lack of a coffee shop. Patrons immediately began doing what MCLD Administrators assumed they would, they browsed. They looked everything over. We assisted them by locating items when they were unsure of a location, but the overall customer attitude was that this works.

Very interesting.  (The whole article is worth a read, by the way.)

It will be worthwhile to watch this library, to see how the experiment plays out, and to determine whether it’s worth considering for others.  I’m still not convinced….but I’m willing to at least give the idea a good look.


1 Comment

Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship

One response to “No Dewey?

  1. Susan

    Browsing’s great, but what happens when I need to find a specific book? What happens when I’m doing a research project? In a library that uses Dewey (or LC for that matter), I can find exactly what I want. In bookstores, I find new things for certain, but I can’t find anything that I specifically want. And I hate running to the staff for everything. If I can’t find a specific title in a bookstore, I don’t ask staff — I go to amazon.

    It’s sad that bookstores adopted the look and feel of old, wonderful libraries to their own purposes, while libraries throw out their own purposes to look & feel more like a bookstore. Sorry to be a curmudgeon, but this is a horrible idea. Create browsing spaces to entice readers– end caps, new book displays, etc. — but for crying out loud, keep the library collection organized & accessible.

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