Saturday, 19 February, 2011
Dewey Decimal’s Demise Destined?
Libraries are changing: Who's killing the Dewey decimal system?
A handful of pioneering suburban libraries are transitioning from the librarian-loved but misunderstood Dewey to the type of organization system used by booksellers. The new layout groups books by subject rather than number, uses signs to highlight contemporary, popular categories, and displays books by their covers.
Critics say the new system is a nightmare for anyone trying to find a specific book that doesn't fit into an obvious category. Supporters counter that the system does what libraries should be doing: encourage people to read more books.
Dewey can be "daunting" for readers and librarians alike, said Audra Caplan, president of the Public Library Association. Numbered systems are time-consuming for staff members to put on shelves and require regular "shelf-reading," in which staff members check to make sure the inventory is ordered correctly. If a book isn't in the right spot, it's basically lost. She said each library has to find the best way to meet its community's needs.
Shown here is Melvil Dewey, the man behind the original system.