Let’s Do Dewey the Right Way,
  or Please Don’t BISAC Me!

    A HIGHLY BIASED REPORT
      FROM A CATALOGER &
          E...
DDC: 1st ten classes

 000 – Computer science, information & general works
 100 – Philosophy and psychology
 200 – Reli...
The case against Dewey:

 Dewey doesn’t allow for efficient patron browsing of
  library materials
 Dewey is too complic...
The case for Dewey:

 Dewey does allow for efficient patron browsing of
  library materials: organization by numbers is e...
The case against BISAC:

 BISAC doesn’t adequately encompass very specific
  subjects/subject headings [it tries, but…]
...
The case for BISAC:

 BISAC allow patrons to have a similar experience at
  the library as at Borders [uniformity allows ...
What we do @ Highland Park Public Library
                [HPPL] (1)

 HPPL website: http://hppl.lib.il.us/


 Non-ficti...
What we do @ Highland Park Public Library
                [HPPL] (2)

 Each month, copies of patron suggestions are
  ele...
Potential negative effects on technical & public
 service departments of going “Dewey-less” [1]

 Cataloging and other re...
Potential negative effects on technical & public
 service departments of going “Dewey-less” [2]

 Patrons familiar with D...
A library is not a book store, for good reasons, or
why we should better use what we already have:

 Libraries and librar...
“I got my MSLIS for a reason!”

 More and more libraries are already “de-
  professionalizing” staff by eliminating or fr...
“I go to the library instead of a book store
because I can actually find what I’m looking for”

 The above quote is from ...
In closing,

 Always remember to seek professional help for Dewey
  phobia.
 It is both treatable and preventable.
 You...
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Let's Dewey This right

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In defense of the Dewey Decimal Classification System, this presentation was given by Michael Geeraedts as part of a LACONI-RASS continuing education program, Dewey and Beyond, on September 17, 2010.

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Let's Dewey This right

  1. 1. Let’s Do Dewey the Right Way, or Please Don’t BISAC Me! A HIGHLY BIASED REPORT FROM A CATALOGER & EDUCATOR
  2. 2. DDC: 1st ten classes  000 – Computer science, information & general works  100 – Philosophy and psychology  200 – Religion  300 – Social sciences  400 – Language  500 – Science (including mathematics)  600 – Technology/Applied Science  700 – Arts and recreation  800 – Literature  900 – History, geography, and biography
  3. 3. The case against Dewey:  Dewey doesn’t allow for efficient patron browsing of library materials  Dewey is too complicated for contemporary library patrons to use effectively  Use of Dewey in libraries is expensive:  Cost of purchasing new paper editions/subscription to online versions [WebDewey]  Cost of professional staff [catalogers] to create locally-oriented classification numbers  Cost of training para-professional staff [shelvers, circ. & related staff members]
  4. 4. The case for Dewey:  Dewey does allow for efficient patron browsing of library materials: organization by numbers is equal to organization by words [use both effectively]  Dewey is not too complicated for contemporary library patrons to use effectively: appropriate & detailed signage and focused assistance & BI from librarians  Use of Dewey in libraries is less expensive than any retrospective conversion: work to improve what you have since the grass is not always greener…
  5. 5. The case against BISAC:  BISAC doesn’t adequately encompass very specific subjects/subject headings [it tries, but…]  BISAC can make browsing more difficult for patrons due to lack of consistency/specificity in subject analysis and signage [both on the stack ends & shelf]  Cost of implementing BISAC in an already Dewey- oriented library is high:  Cost of materials re-class: re-cataloging, re-processing, re- signing, re-orienting…
  6. 6. The case for BISAC:  BISAC allow patrons to have a similar experience at the library as at Borders [uniformity allows for lower expenditure of already overextended brain activity: “I don’t have the time, nor the energy to figure out how the library works or even to ask for help! I just want to grab the new Sarah Palin book & get to the Tea Party & Koran burning rally!”  BISAC allows the library to outsource its professional staff & hire entry-level workers [i.e., wage slaves] without that pesky and expensive library degree.
  7. 7. What we do @ Highland Park Public Library [HPPL] (1)  HPPL website: http://hppl.lib.il.us/  Non-fiction books [Adult & Youth] are classed according to DDC  Fiction books [Adult & Youth] are classed by genre & shelved alph. by author’s last name or keyword  A/V materials are classed according to an in-house created system based primarily on genre (audiobooks are classed as Fiction/Non-fiction books)
  8. 8. What we do @ Highland Park Public Library [HPPL] (2)  Each month, copies of patron suggestions are electronically distributed to HPPL staff members. In eight years, I have never seen a single complaint about the classification methods employed at HPPL which would result in lack of patron access to library materials.  The catalogers & the subject specialist librarians [public service] work very closely with each other in order to fine tune classification [Dewey & non- Dewey] to meet patrons’ access needs.
  9. 9. Potential negative effects on technical & public service departments of going “Dewey-less” [1]  Cataloging and other related tech. service activities could be outsourced which puts professional & para- professional staff out of work, or downgrades their current work flow, work hours, salary, benefits.  Since BISAC is not taught in library schools, [I will not be teaching it in my class!] catalogers and other technical & public service librarians must learn the system thoroughly on their own in order to implement it properly. Extra staff time? What’s that?
  10. 10. Potential negative effects on technical & public service departments of going “Dewey-less” [2]  Patrons familiar with DDC are forced to “unlearn” Dewey & “relearn” BISAC. This causes the same level of frustration for those patrons in accessing library materials as implementing BISAC is supposed to alleviate for others. Why create this conflict amongst patrons? Just fix the access problems patrons may be experiencing with the currently implemented system: DDC!  There is no universally accepted empirical data to support any claims that BISAC is better for libraries & patrons than DDC. BISAC certainly will not be better for some professional library staff & shelvers!
  11. 11. A library is not a book store, for good reasons, or why we should better use what we already have:  Libraries and librarians have more collective experience with organizing library items than book stores & book store/industry employees.  Professional [degreed] librarians have received masters- level instruction in classification & subject analysis. Book store/industry employees are not required to have comparable instruction. BISAC was not created by, nor for librarians/libraries.  Bibliographic instruction [BI] should play an active role in EVERY library. When BI is effectively employed, patrons are empowered in the library environment & don’t have to settle for “2nd level” classification: BISAC.
  12. 12. “I got my MSLIS for a reason!”  More and more libraries are already “de- professionalizing” staff by eliminating or freezing positions and/or creating two half-time positions [no benefits!] from one previous full-time position [with benefits!]  “De-Deweyizing” a library certainly opens up the possibility of further “de-professionalizing” of staff.  Why hire a cataloger/technical services librarian with a library degree when you can hire a para- professional former employee of Borders who claims to know BISAC?
  13. 13. “I go to the library instead of a book store because I can actually find what I’m looking for”  The above quote is from an actual patron of HPPL.  Staff notes, August 2009  When I go to a bookstore to find a book, I ALWAYS have problems finding it unless it’s a major release that’s shelved in a prominent location. And if I’m trying to find a book on what might be considered an obscure subject, I have to look it up on the store’s locator computer since otherwise, I might spend a lot of time browsing for it. Which is exactly what a library patron would have to do in a similar situation at the library, whether it’s Dewey- or BISAC-oriented.
  14. 14. In closing,  Always remember to seek professional help for Dewey phobia.  It is both treatable and preventable.  Your professional librarian can provide the much-needed assistance to relieve your endless browsing fatigue.  Don’t fear the library catalog! It is your guide to faceted searching & retrieval. Remember, controlled vocabulary is your friend! And when coupled with non-embedded tags and proper signage, you have all the tools you need to make your Dewey library experience the best that it could possibly! Stop browsing & start finding!

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