February 17, 2018

Dewey or Don't We?

The Arizona Republic has a piece on Maricopa County's new Gilbert library, which is opening next month. The reporter made the unfortunate statement that Gilbert "will be the first public library in the nation whose entire collection will be categorized without the Dewey Decimal Classification System." Now we all know that's nonsense, but in a fellow news hack's defense, she credits that information with Maricopa librarians, who should know better.

Many a librarian finds Dewey screwy and have gone with LCC instead, but Gilbert isn't doing that either. Instead, Marshall Shore, Maricopa's adult service coordinator, had the brainstorm of shelving by subject like a bookstore. "A lot of times," reasons Shore, "patrons feel like they're going to a library and admitting defeat because they don't understand Dewey Decimal and can't find the book they're looking for." Isn't that what the library staff is for, to help the patrons?

There are some wonderful responses to the piece. My favs: "This story is just another example of librarians eating their young, so to speak. By moving to the bookstore model, librarians just feed the belief they serve no other purpose," posted by Barry5309, and Jones6209's, "A children's book containing recipes from the Civil War would be where…?"

So who is right, Shore or Barry and Jones? It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. If anyone reading this already uses the bookstore method, please share your experiences. Others also are welcomed to weigh in on whether Gilbert is sticking its neck out to have its head chopped off.