County libraries defend Dewey Decimal System


A library in Arizona may have plans to drop the Dewey Decimal System, but Carroll County Public Library Director Lynn Wheeler says it would be chaos without the widely used classification system.

"I can't imagine the inefficiency of trying to run a library of this size without Dewey," said Wheeler. "It makes it much more manageable."


A couple of fuzzy thinking library directors in the local consortiium tried arranging the periodicals by subject.Of course the subject groupings were different between the libraries.The libraries returned to periodicals in alphabetical order quickly in one case and painfully slowly in the other case.

FULL DISCLOSURE- I am the Circulation Manager of the Southeast Regional Library, part of the Maricopa County Library District. I trained many of the people who will work at the Perry Branch Library, the same library undertaking the Dewey-less experiment.I think this actually has a real shot at success. Some people are of the opinion that patrons won't know what to do without the DDCS. However, I'm of the opinion that patrons don't know what to do now with the DDCS. If they did, why is it they're always asking use where the astronomy books are? Or where's the books on diabetic cooking?In a bookstore, these things are more obvious. So we will see.If all goes to plan, I'll be out at that branch on their opening day providing backup and troubleshooting. Schedules permitting, I'll be there at least a couple of days to help get them off and running, at least on the Circ side. If the readers of LISNews are interested, I'll bring back reports of what's happening.But I will say this, they've got a helluva staff. If this doesn't work, it won't be because their staff didn't make the grade.

Please do keep us posted. I am very interested to hear how it goes.

I recently had a related discussion with some people over whether we use the DDC to categorize a set of websites that we would rely on for Reference. Even though it would be on the website for the public to use its really not about what the public can or should use. If you want to use bookstore categories to organize something that's fine but the DDC is for *us*. Bookstores use general categories because they don't do reference work. Throwing out a detailed organization system in preference to a general browsing system undercuts the purpose of having librarians.

And again, there's no reason you can't have both. DDC does, after all, start broad and then 'drills down' (as someone said to me yesterday).

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