Libraries, bookstores, and organization

A new library opened in Gilbert, Arizona in 2007. Being a new library, they decided to try something new. Instead of organizing it according to the Dewey Decimal Classification, as 95% of American public libraries do, they decided to organize it like a bookstore. After all, their thinking went, people find those numbers a little cryptic, but everyone understands “gardening,” or “technology,” or “computers.” I haven’t heard how it worked out, but I think they exchanged something that works well for something that doesn’t. If I go to a bookstore just looking for a general topic, I can find something. … Continue reading

How library classification systems work

Some people find libraries confusing places. They bigger they are, the more intimidating. I have written about asking reference questions and using the catalog, but once you identify something to read, you must decipher KFI1376.L5 V47 2002 or 346.043096761 M891p. These strings of characters are derived from two different library classification systems. Library classification has two functions. It puts every item in the library close to related items, and it tells patrons exactly where to find what they have found in the catalog. Libraries are not organized like book stores. Book stores use ordinary language, such as Religion, History, Reference, … Continue reading