Sunday, December 1, 2013

New ways forward

There has been much discussion online about replacing Dewey in the past few weeks following the AASL13 heated discussion in one of the sessions -  Ditching Dewey.

I will make my stand right now - I am an advocate for all the reasons that the presenters at AASL13 put forward (see slide presentation below). If you are regular reader of my blog, you will know at my last school we genrefied the fiction and it made a big difference to our reading and borrowing statistics across the whole school. We have yet to move into this era in my current place of employment. Fear of the work load to change everything is probably the biggest barrier at the moment in a very busy school.

I am interested in the non Dewey non fiction and I think it could work very well if it was done carefully and with consideration.

We have been furiously weeding our non fiction collection to get ready for a library re organisation where we will be reducing the number of shelves in the non fiction section by 8 x 90cm shelves.  We have figured this to be about 600 books we need to get rid of from the non fiction section to allow for the re vamp and allow for some future growth. We are going to be more strategic about our non fiction purchases due to being in a 1:1 school with access to a number of wonderful databases. (This is for a future post).

As part of this weeding process we came across a number of what are considered personal stories shelved Dewey appropriately in amongst the non fiction but were essentially hidden. These stories are the personal triumphs, lives, memoirs of ordinary people who told their story for others to learn from and reflect on. As we weeded we separated them from the collection into a different place to see how many there were and for discussion later. After working through the entire non fiction, we found we had quite a number - enough for 4 shelves.

After discussion we decided we would separate these from the regular non fiction - calling the collection "Personal Stories" and they would be placed at a bay at the end of the non fiction section. We decided to keep dewey on the label to help distinguish fiction from non fiction and to help keep the topics together on the shelf. The spine label has on it something like this ....  - PS  940.21  BEA.
You can see what we placed in this collection here.

This isn't really ditching dewey I suppose, but complementing and using Dewey in a more student friendly way. Some of the problems with this method to extend it to the wider collection is that we made a new collection for the Personal Stories. If we did this across the whole of non fiction then we would end up with many, many collections under the non fiction banner. Would this matter? It would make stocktaking easier as it could be done a small section at a time ... What would be the pitfalls?

Would there be another way to achieve the same end without creating a number of sub collections within the non fiction? These are the thoughts in my brain as I pass out in the night ...

The results of our decision? It is early days yet and we are introducing the section to our students class by class. There has been a lot of interest from some students who prefer non fiction over fiction reading, so this has helped those students. I also think it will help students who like to realistic fiction to dip into the real stories of people.

This has been an ongoing discussion for many years and if you search for 'Ditching Dewey' on google there are many arguments for and against. I have linked some of these below.

What do you think? Are you tired of the discussion? See the move as fixing something that doesn't need to be fixed? Feel that it would work in a primary (elementary) school but not high school where the collections are bigger? Is understanding Dewey or any classification system really a required skill for university? Won't they learn it as required? Are non fiction books even relevant at this level anymore? (I know this is a loaded question...)

It is certainly a movement in the library field that is taking hold.

Ditching Dewey from Tiffany Whitehead
Tiffany on Twitter
Tiffany's blog post on Mighty Little Librarian where she outlines the process of changing things around.
Sherry Gick's Library Fanatic Blog on the topic 
Shannon Miller's blog on how Van meter Library made the change last year
Megan Scott's post about Genrification

A School Library Journal post on the topic from last year

A blog post from the Elementary Librarian about why she won't be ditching Dewey

And a Diigo list on the topic from Kathy Kaldenburg


Anne Weaver said...

We have moved out for renovations until Easter 2014.Our new library will have genre fiction shelving & dewey for non-fiction but in dispersed sections eg Science, History etc We will have a section which will work like your Personal Stories section for biography & autobiography, rather than having them spread throughout the collection; especially for life stories people in sport & arts. The exception is religion - we will leave these life stories in the 200s at this stage. We have already placed stickers on the fiction and reshelved before we moved, so we could work out space.

Anne Weaver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne Weaver said...

Comment Part 2
Our non-fiction will be spread out between 5 class areas,providing sound & spatial buffers.We did a lot of research, which indicates this will work better than having non-fiction in one large space.Bookshops & online bookstores group by subject,not dewey & many students will study online, so dewey libraries may be less common for future students. Cheerio, Anne

Anne Weaver said...

Comment Part 3
So we agree with you and will also be using a modified Dewey model & will see how this goes.Our goals are to facilitate access & way finding to resources for students. This is a huge job-even just genre shelving.We had to shift books anyway, but this is definitely not an easy task, Cheerio, Anne

Dianne said...

Thanks Anne for your comments on how you have managed to recreate your library. I have just read Mighty Little Library blog and how she paired her fiction and non fiction on shelves beside each other - another thought to the equation!