And the Dewey Decimal System falls victim. From the Denver Post:
By the end of the year, all six Rangeview branches and the district’s outreach office will dump the iconic Dewey and its numeric organizing system for one that relies on word categories such as “history” and “science.”
“For years, we’ve had focus groups and people consistently tell us, ‘I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how this library works,’ ” Sandlian Smith said. “So we decided to turn things upside down, and so far it seems to work well.”
I got a lot of problems with this. First, Dewey already contains the categories they’re using, they’re just categorized numerically. If patrons can’t “figure out how this library works” then a librarian can give a brief introduction to the Dewey system. It’s kinda what we do here. Second of all, the movement toward the barnes and noble/borders categorization is ridiculous because patrons will always become lazier and eventually want librarians to hand deliver all their materials to them without them ever doing any work.
And really, has anyone consistently found exactly what they’re looking for on the first try? At least Dewey will ensure some organization in that similarly topical books will be found within just a slight deviation of the call number. Part of the fun of browsing through the stacks is finding not just the object of desire, but those pleasant surprises that hadn’t presented themselves earlier. Dewey ensures more precision of similar subject matter than in the store.
Also stated in the article:
Ken Neely, a 17-year patron of the Perl Mack branch, said he’s happy with the new system.
“I think it’s a good idea, especially if you are new to the library and don’t know the system. You don’t have to go to one of the librarians and ask for help,” Neely said. “That means they can spend more time helping people and doing research for you.”
Arrgh. We’re here to help people learn how to sharpen their information literacy skills, thereby becoming better researchers; we exist not to do their research for them. Not only that, but how can we spend more time helping people if they are being conditioned not to ask for help in the first place?
This here, is the caveat of Web.2.0…the more people are tagging, friending and stuff-and-such like that, the lazier and more apathetic they become to learning how to use an OPAC, where they can find what they’re looking for just as quickly, if not more so, by reading a brief tutorial or getting a two minute instructional session on how to move through the stacks and where to place their eyes.
I’m all for keeping up with people’s technological or taxonomic proclivities, but laziness doesn’t fall under the Web 2.0 schema. Even LibraryThing’s Open Shelves Classification project doesn’t completely dismiss Dewey, as its emphasis is to collaboratively reclassify rather than assign quasi-arbitrary taxonomies. Dewey shouldn’t become a martyr because patrons refuse to acknowledge their own numerophobia.
Here’s an idea, why not just paste subject heading labels, taken from Dewey, throughout the stacks? Or would that not be upside down enough?