Monday, 25 August 2008

Adios, Dewey?

Working with my fabulous new teaching partner, Kim Cofino, has me thinking a lot about library practices, and we've had some great conversations about the good 'ol Dewey Decimal System. Now, I can't call myself a diehard fan of Dewey himself, although my husband does roll his eyes when I start a sentence with, "Wanna know something interesting about Dewey?" My issue is this--why is it that so many other areas of education and technology have made leaps and bounds in regards to progress over the years, yet we are still using an organizational system that was created over 130 years ago? I have to ask myself why nothing else has come along that has the potential to be a better, more accessible tool. And 130 years old or not, it's a tiny percentage of people who need to know what the numbers mean.

Take the Perry Branch Library in Arizona, who bravely went where no library dares to go by moving away from the DDS into a library set up by subjects similar to that of a bookstore, thus catering to the patrons who desire more of a browsing experience. Check out their humorous Dewey or Do We Not? video below, filmed with the background music of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide...Well, I've been afraid of changing..." You gotta love witty library people!

Another group taking on the challenge of exploring new, more current ways to catalog books are the people over at LibraryThing. They have started a wiki, faciliated by two librarians, that has begun quite an interesting conversation about changing the status quo.

At the end of the day, most of my elementary kids just want to know where to find the hamster books. They really don't care that pets are in 636, and it makes no sense to them that hamsters aren't logically found with all the other animals in the 500's. And, truth be told, that isn't so logical to me either.


Kimbra Power said...

just linked you on my school blog, hope you don't mind

IMC Guy said...

I think you're right about elementary kids - they just want to know where just is. They could care less about the call number.

Michael McVey said...

Tara, I'm friends with your Mom from my days in Tucson and now I'm teaching at Eastern Michigan U. I gave a talk to a group of librarians yesterday and your Mom directed me to your blog. And what a winner it is. I will be sure to visit regularly.