Thursday, February 14, 2008

Re-thinking Dewey

You may have heard about the library in Arizona that has abandoned the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system altogether and now groups its books by subject headings similar to a bookstore. Here at the Ridgefield Library, we still believe there is merit in the time-tested Dewey system, which, in actuality, is based on grouping materials together by topic. However, even our professional librarians would admit that some fine points of the classification system can be a little hard to grasp. In Children’s Services, we have decided to bend the rules a little to facilitate a more intuitive arrangement for some sections of the non-fiction collection.

Looking for versions of the fairy tale Cinderella? Strict DDC regulation would put all folk and fairy tale books together with a call number of 398.2, followed by the author’s last name. So, for example, re-tellings of Cinderella by different authors are often widely scattered on the shelves. To make it easier, we have added a line before the author’s name on the label, giving the name of the story. So all the versions of Cinderella are now grouped together, as are the books about Jack and the Beanstalk, the Sleeping Beauty stories, and so on.

A similar arrangement has been instituted in the art history section (in the 700s), with the result that all the books about Monet are together, followed by those about Picasso, those about Rembrandt, those about Renoir, etc.

The latest change affects the books about individual Native American tribes which are so sought after for homework assignments. Frustrated by searching through hundreds of titles all labeled 970.3 to find books on your selected group? These are now grouped by tribe, with an additional line on the label indicating Abenaki, Cheyenne, Iroquois, and the like.

No comments: