A new twist in the "bookstore model"

I generally support the “bookstore model” idea when it comes to libraries. However, I’m not sure that what the Gilbert (AZ) library is doing is a good idea.

“When the new Gilbert library opens next month, it will be the first public library in the nation whose entire collection will be categorized without the Dewey Decimal Classification System, Maricopa County librarians say. Instead, tens of thousands of books in the Perry Branch library will be shelved by topic, similar to the way bookstores arrange books.”

I’m not anti-change, but might this just be going a little too far? I worked in bookstores for ten years and, despite the learning curve involved in learning how to count (which is basically all that need to be done to find a book once you have a Dewey number,) I’ve always found it easier to find books in a library than in a bookstore.

Granted, I’m looking at it from the “I need this particular book” POV while the article is coming from the “browsing” POV. Does Library 2.0 mean ditching standard classification systems all together? Are they allowing tagging in the OPAC to help support this new shelving method? I guess I’m left with more questions than answers at this point. I’ll be interested in seeing how this works out in the long-term.

4 Replies to “A new twist in the "bookstore model"”

  1. I hope that Gilbert shares their customers’ experiences with shelving by category rather than by Dewey. Like you, it’s been easier for me to find a book in a library than at the bookstore. Staff at B&N spent about 30 minutes one time trying to locate 20 copies of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” which he knew was in the store. He just couldn’t figure out where! We never did find it.

    Dewey is essentially shelving by topic. I’ve maintained that instead of ditching Dewey, we need better signage (and I’m not a fan of most signs!). Bookstores have large signs indicating where “Pets”, “Crafts”, “Gardening”, “Cookbooks” are. Why don’t we co-opt that part of the bookstore model and clearly label our shelves that are arranged in Dewey order?

  2. I worked at B&N for about a year and it was sometimes very frustrating to find a book once it was misplaced. At a library, you can look over the numbers and see if one is out of oder- it’s not so easy at B&N.

    I’ll be curious to see how this ends up. I agree that the same could be accomplished by changing the look of the arrangement (no more 8 foot high shelves!) without ditching Dewey all together.

  3. Whoa. I’ll be trotting down as soon as the new Gilbert library opens up, but I’m with you. I can never find anything at a bookstore without looking it up on a computer, and even then, it’s not easy.

    I’ll report back after checking it out (no pun intended).

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