Library Issues

Dropping Dewey

Is the Dewey Decimal System going the way of the dinosaur?
bq.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. The demise of the century-old Dewey Decimal system is overdue, county librarians say: It’s just too confusing for people to hunt down books using those long strings of numbers and letters. Dewey essentially arranges books by topic and assigns call numbers for each book. – “Yvonne Wingett(Gilbert library to be first to drop Dewey Decimal)”: Some librarians certainly think so.
bq.Bookstores are far from perfect, but we have to remember that we are dealing with a public that has a certain level of expectations when it comes to dealing with a retail outlet (which is exactly what a public library is, like it or not!). We don’t have to fit each one of those expectations, but if it brings what we have to offer into the user’s comfort zone a little more, then why not? All I see that doing is increasing access and use in the long run. If, for some places like the Gilbert Library, that means letting go of old Dewey, then so be it. – “Emily Clasper”: In my library, we encourage our patrons to use the public access catalog stations in order to locate a particular book. Some people use them easily and other require extra assistance which we are always happy to provide. It comes down to the fact that either the patron or a staff member will locate the work in question. To say that patrons can’t find things because of “long strings” is just silly to me. I would be the last to say that DDC is perfect. But it has worked pretty well for 131 years and survived numerous technological and cultural changes in the process. I certainly don’t feel that I have the ability to invent something better and really question anyone who thinks they can without a great deal of thought and effort. I fully expect it will not be too long before Gilbert announces their experiment has failed miserably and switches back.

By Michael K Pate

Michael K. Pate tends to spend a great deal time of time around computers. He has been a Librarian since 1997.

Michael was born in Avon Park, Florida in 1966. Except for a couple of brief periods in his life (once in Tampa and once in Winter Haven/Haines City), he has been a life-long resident.

Originally, he planned on a career as a Computer Programmer and therefore graduate from Webber College with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems in 1988. However, unhappy with career opportunities at the time, he soon returned to school and received a BS in Social Science Education from the University of South Florida.

He began his career in education at Avon Elementary and later Avon Park Middle working as a Computer Lab Coordinator. While technological challenges were interesting, he found himself more and more interested in becoming a Media Specialist. He began work on his MLS in 1995.

However, a summer internship at the Sebring Public Library in 1996 soon made him reconsider just what his career should be. Upon graduation in 1997, he secured a position as a Media Specialist at Eastside Elementary in Haines City. Eventually, the position he was looking for opened up and he returned to SPL as Reference Librarian in 1999.

In 2003, he became Assistant Director of the Highlands County Library System, serving in that role until the position was eliminated during a late round of budget cuts in 2010. Since then, he has been the Computer Support Specialist for the Heartland Library Cooperative. In 2011, he began serving on the Board of Directors of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium.