This is actually what I wanted to talk about with that last post!
At the 2011 ALA conference in Minneapolis, I went to a session about ditching the Dewey Decimal Classification System, in favor of a bookstore model. There are a lot of articles in the literature (and blogosphere) about this, and, judging by the attendance, it was a popular session. With that said, though, I don’t think I was the only one who walked away disappointed. The librarian in question was setting up a new school library, with all new books. These were done via the bookstore model by Mackin. What good did that do those of us with an average collection age of 1989?
But back to nonfiction. One argument I see in favor of changing to a bookstore model is that it’s easier for students to find books. Frankly, I find it very hard to find books in Barnes and Noble. But then again, I know the DDCS, so navigating even the New York City Public Library wouldn’t be too hard for me.
The reason I want to transition to something a little different is this: the inconsistency of spine labels. I don’t know about you, but I hate doing spine labels. (I know, I know, I could get processing done, but half of my books come from Amazon.) But let’s say you have a book on grizzly bears – 599.784. But I don’t like to put three digits to the right of the decimal, so I’ll round that to 599.78. But perhaps a past librarian would do the whole number, or round to 599.7, or god forbid, 599. So then, if you – or your Junior Librarians – have faith in your spine labels, your books might be: grizzly bear, polar bear, grizzly bear, panda bear, gazelle, grizzly bear, hyena. Chaos, I tell you! Chaos!
What I’m doing this year, then, is using fiberboard dividers that stick out a bit from the books, with the category name and Dewey number included. So we’ll have “Fairy Tales” and “Bears” and “World War II.” We’ll get more specific with the category when there are at least ten books on a topic. We’ll still mostly adhere to the Dewey order, though we’ll use our judgment – we’ll put all of the Titanic books together (910, Ti-tan-tic history – just like in the Dewey Decimal Rap). NASCAR is going out of the 796s and into 388s, sorry (cars, not sports). This if course will require me to make more spine labels . . .
The fact is, I rarely have anyone come in looking for a particular nonfiction book. Someone will want a book on the Vietnam War or a fairy tale that isn’t too long or a print encyclopedia (ha ha, just kidding on that one). This will make it easier to find books on a topic, for my Junior Librarians to shelve books, and I think it will encourage browsing by students who thought they didn’t like nonfiction.