Sunday, January 29, 2012

UPDATED: Is Dewey Done? See What These 26 Sites Have to Say and Then Decide

Ever since bookstores have been selling books, they have shelved them by subject area. When patrons go to any subject section, they can usually find the book they are looking for by the last name of the author. This includes fiction and nonfiction books. Those of us who were taught to use the Dewey Decimal System are used to using decimals for the ten nonfiction sections from 000-999. When a student asks me to find a particular book, all I need is the call number to get to the exact location of that book. How would the bookstore model do in a school library? Some elementary school librarians like the idea because nonfiction books could be easier for young kids to locate. Judge for yourself.

Adams County Libraries Shelving Dewey- Denver, Colorado school libraries

Are the Dewey Decimal System's Days Numbered?- interesting article

The Demise of the Dewey Decimal System- Canadian librarian has incorporated the bookstore model in her school library

Dewey? At This Library With a Very Different Outlook, They Don't- New York Times article about the 15-branch Maricopa County Library District in Arizona. Here's a link to the NPR broadcast about the changes.

Dewey Decimal, Redone

The Dewey Dilemma- from the Library Journal

Dewey's Not Dead

Do We Dewey?-New York Times article from 2008

Has the Dewey Decimal system Finally Outlived its Usefulness?- blog post by librarian Roger Green

Red Hawk Elementary Scraps Dewey Decimal System  for Bookstore Model

Reorganizing Non-Fiction: A Dewey Hybrid Model- from the Official Blog of the Association for Library Service for Children (ALSC)

Saying Goodbye to the Dewey Decimal System- article about five Albany public libraries

So We Ditched Dewey...What Comes Next For Our Books and Shelves?- from teacher-librarian Shannon McClintock Miller

Students Not Fazed By Dewey-less Library- Gilbert, AZ

Three Benefits of the Dewey Decimal System- from eHow

What's So Great About Dewey? 

Why I Won't Ditch Dewey- from elementary librarian Jocelyn Sams

Will 21st Century Libraries Use the Dewey Decimal System?

Will Dewey Still Do?- Massachusetts librarian airs her opinion about Dewey

Who's Killing the Dewey Decimal System?- article about the Gail Borden Public Library District in Elgin, IL

Would Your Elementary Library Work Better if You Scrapped the Dewey Decimal System?- from School Library Monthly's blog


  1. This is a great list. Nearly 6 months into our changes, the tentative verdict is very positive. Books within the small 'departments' within each section are still dewey-ed, but books labelled in the 300's might be beside ones from the 900's (mummies/ancient Eqypt) and fiction set in ancient Eqypt will be in the same section nearby, so a student 'obsessed' with this subject can get their fill without consciously deciding to look up related books. Eventually I'll have all media and any realia I can find nearby as well. The kids love it! Thanks for the mention.

  2. Thanks for the list! I visited a public library in a Denver Suburb over a year ago that had ditched Dewey. That was one of the factors that made it so exciting and visitor friendly!

  3. This is an interesting list: some of the links I was aware of, and some were new to me: thanks!
    I am one of the librarians at an independent school in New York City, and this past spring and summer we created and then implemented a new categorization system which we have called METIS (after the mother of Athena in Greek mythology). We considered the bookstore model, but felt strongly that we needed a system that was child-centered in its categories, and based on the way that children think about information and books. We use call numbers (so books are searchable in the catalog); words in the call numbers; and visual cues and signposting. Our system gives us flexibility, encourages browsing and allows us to arrange our collection based on students' interests, but it also allows for searching in the online catalog. If you're interested, we have blogged about it at We love our new system, and so do the students, teachers and parents at our school.

  4. @Mary Alice
    Thank you for the input! I guess everyone is so familiar with Barnes and Noble that their public library is now easier to navigate.

    Seems like you have a plan that works. I've noticed that when I go to Barnes and Noble I have to readjust to the "bookstore model". Patrons tend to put books back in a particular section (i.e. photography)anywhere they please, and I've noticed that BN doesn't have shelf readers checking the stacks. Makes it a problem to locate a specific book.



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