February 17, 2018

Marshall Shore | Movers & Shakers 2008

The Man Who Said No to Dewey

Raised in a small Indiana farming town, Marshall Shore had little previous exposure to many communities he’s since served as a librarian, including Hispanics, people with disabilities, and GLBTs. He got around that initial ignorance by asking each community how the library could serve them.

As adult services coordinator at Maricopa County Library District (MCLD), Shore continues to explore what users want. When MCLD began to design the new Perry Branch for the community of Gilbert, Shore took the opportunity to ask the local residents what they desired in a public library. Community members said they wanted a library they could browse in and explore, with books easily available in broad subject areas, much like—you guessed it—a bookstore.

So Shore decided to organize the branch with a modified version of the BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) codes that bookstores use instead of Dewey. This decision—considered radical in some library quarters—generated no end of chatter on library blogs and prompted national news coverage and a conversation about what libraries should be. Shore is delighted that libraries have become the topic of “casual bar talk.”

Now he is involved in community-based research to determine what people aged 30–50 value in a “third space” so he can help develop branches and programs for them.

Though many librarians deplored the abolition of Dewey, others, like Michael Stephens, say it’s “what all libraries should be doing: examining our processes to see if they can be more user-centric.” Shore thinks he’s simply serving another, often-ignored group: people who don’t want to learn our complicated system.


CURRENT POSITION Adult Services Coordinator, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix

DEGREE MLS, Indiana University, 1992

NPR INTERVIEW http://nprinterview.notlong.com

HANDS-ON EMPLOYMENT Sign-language instructor