Dewey Decimal System gets check
By Adam Wagner
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, 8:55 p.m.
The Dewey Decimal System has been around for more than a century, but now some libraries are beginning to switch to less traditional formats to organize their collections.
“I don't think any of us have ever gone into a bookstore and browsed and said, ‘Darn, I wish they had the Dewey Decimal System here,' ” said Dennis Luther, director of the Brentwood Library. “It always seems comfortable to walk around a bookstore.”
To reach that comfort level, Brentwood a year ago began displaying some special collections, on basic living, gardening, small business and weddings, as a bookstore would.
“We think it's a better system for the customers and easier to browse, specifically for a medium-size library,” Luther said.
Luther uses an organizational system called Book Industry Standards and Communications, or BISAC, as a guide when he decides to highlight a collection. BISAC, by the Book Industry Study Group, organizes material based on topical content.
Carnegie Library in Oakland in 2004 created a similar system on its first floor, where material is presented to resemble a bookstore more than a traditional library.
Some strategies the library uses include facing the covers of books outward to catch browsers' eyes and creating seating areas near books.
Brentwood and Carnegie still organize their main stacks under the Dewey Decimal System, which uses a standard set of numbers and letters to organize shelves.
“Besides people who work at a library, not a lot of people understand (the Dewey) system,” said Dustin Shilling, director of Northern Tier Regional Library.
Some branches of the Carnegie Library could adopt BISAC permanently by next year, said Sheila Jackson, assistant director of main library services.
“It would work best with smaller collections,” Jackson said. “When you have a lot of materials, you need to find those things. That's what distinguishes a library: Being able to identify and find something.”
Green Tree Library, with about 32,000 books, organizes its children's collection by popular characters such as Dora the Explorer and Thomas the Tank Engine and by authors such as Dr. Seuss.
“Kids have a unique experience. They're looking for their favorites; they're not browsing for something new,” said Shannon McNeill, a librarian at Green Tree.
McNeill said circulation has increased by an average of 1,517 items a month over 2011 since January, when Green Tree began organizing its children's collection by subject. Much of that usage occurred in the children's collection.
Part of the reason for switching to BISAC is to let patrons find materials without assistance, Luther said.
“People are used to finding info a lot faster and on their own. When they walk in, they don't necessarily want to browse up and down an aisle of books and figure out what numbers mean,” Luther said. “They just want to be able to go right to what they're looking for.”
Adam Wagner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7956 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- UPMC to city: Try to tax our subsidiaries
- Obama hopes to replicate CCAC job training efforts across U.S.
- Cueto gets best of Bucs, as Reds take series
- Starkey: Fleury’s future at stake
- Pirates notebook: Walker’s razor a right-handed swing solution
- Authorities plan to withdraw charge against bullied South Fayette student
- Five years later, Crosby wants another Cup win
- Police: Volunteer firefighter admits to setting fires
- Penguins’ Malkin expects to play in Game 1
- Jailed Hribal ‘fine,’ but family ‘terrible’ as answers in stabbing sought
- Connellsville police hitting the streets on foot and bikes