On 16/10/2012, Barbara Braxton, a teacher librarian in Australia, summarised a long and thoughtful discussion on LM_NET for the benefit of OZTL_NET members, most succinctly. Barbara has given permission for her summary to appear here. She would like it known that this summary does not necessarily reflect her own opinion.
' This subject - moving to a genre-based organisation of the library- has been the focus of debate on this list in the past, but just last week (again) on LM_NET. Each camp puts forward its own perspective quite vehemently but in the latest round, some of the arguments NOT to do this were very strong and persuasive. They focused on
* Who decides the genre categories and their location – are 26 letters of the alphabet not a more organised format already?
* Who decides the location of each title and on what criteria is that placement based?
* Who decides the placement if a book straddles genres?
* How is that decision made?
* How is consistency across time guaranteed if personnel change because decisions are so subjective?
* Who is responsible for developing and maintaining the Procedures Manual to ensure consistency?
* What is the purpose for the change?
* Why is Dewey not working for you?
* If Dewey is not working, then how you can modify that to fix it rather than introducing a non-standard ‘fix’?
* If it is to be more like a bookstore, then why is that more important than being like other libraries?
* If it is to be more like a bookstore, is the bookstore model effective particularly if you don’t know quite what you’re looking for?
* Is the change worth the time that is invested in re-classifying every title and the money invested in new labels, staff wages etc?
* Could that time and money be better spent?
* If students do not learn how to use Dewey in the primary setting, how will they manage it in high school or public libraries, particularly where there is an expectation by the high school that an understanding of how to use it is an acquired skillset?
* If students are browsing by genre will they then confine themselves to that genre?
* Do primary-aged students, particularly those under 11-12 years, have preferences for particular genres? (My research indicates they were more swayed by author and topic until late Year 6.)
*· What is the purpose of switching non-fiction resources to a ‘genre’ classification when Dewey, essentially does this by grouping like subjects together?
Those who had switched said they found that circulation had increased but that is not necessarily a reliable measure of efficacy but there were many horror tales of new personnel moving in and finding no consistency in location or records, and spending many hours of time that could be spent with students reverting back to a more common, organised system.
While much of the discussion was anecdotal (perhaps it could be a focus of some formal research), in this round of the ongoing debate, my assessment was that the traditionalists’ arguments were much stronger than those who had made drastic changes.
I have no opinion but these are issues I would certainly be considering before I committed myself to change.
CONCURRENTLY the same issue was being discussed on sln in the UK, and there was a strong preference for retaining Dewey so we can prepare students to use university libraries and for consistency amongst schools.
Interesting report of a practicum exercise. More an exercise in 'featured collections', however the borrowing stats supplied showed the exercise was very worthwhile. In my own thinking, this type of model is very practical, especially where the library is subscribed to a union catalogue.
'The Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) is broken. I am not going to entertain any sort of conversation on this point, it is just a fact you need to accept. Accept it, and move on. One of the incontrovertible facts that clearly demonstrate the brokenness of DDC is that we have to teach DDC, and that is the focus here.
So when (not if, when) we get rid of DDC, we are going to need a new system. So what should it look like? The basis of the new system I would suggest needs to be the basic concept of “Don’t make me think!” When I walk into a school library, especially an elementary school library where the DDC is especially developmentally inappropriate, I should immediately and instinctively understand how and why books are classified. When I want to find a book about animals, why aren’t they all located together? Under the new system, they will be. ... read on... (Christopher Harris in New York)
It is our job at SCIS to ensure we meet the needs of school librarians in creating an easily accessible library catalogue, where every physical item has a dist…
Jan Radford's insight:
Underlying reservations librarians have about genrefication is frequently the concern about time taken to allocate genre. This slideshare addresses that problem. The system is Australian. The principles are not.
'... is Dewey the best classification system for school libraries? Would we serve our users better by adopting an alternative system? …' Barbara is refocusing on the continuing issue and inviting further discussion. Very thoughtful. From the UK.
Four librarians who form a creative team at Ethical Culture School in New York City, chose to reorganise their collection and have called their system METIS.
'We strive to make our library as child-centered as we possibly can. Over the spring and summer of 2011 we devised an alternative to the Dewey Decimal System; Metis is our new Categorization system designed from the child's perspective.'
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