Blogger Heather Acerro

Using the Bookstore Model

Last week I visited the media center at the School of Engineering and Arts in Golden Valley, MN to hear about how they used a bookstore model to arrange their collections. The collection is divided into two large pieces: “Information” and “Stories”, with subdivisions within each, such as “Adventure”, “Animals”, “Humor” and “Poetry” in Stories. The categories were selected by the media center staff with a lot of care and thought. Students at the school have enjoyed the arrangement in the library and are better able browse for books of interest to them.

I have been pondering a change in the organization of the book collections at my library since attending the I Want A Truck Book! session at ALA Annual last year and reading Tali Balas Kaplan’s Done with Dewey blog post. There is a lot of discussion going on about the end of Dewey and there are many people who believe it is just a matter of time. Are we holding onto something that doesn’t make sense or are we giving up on a system that has worked and can continue to work?

After visiting the School of Engineering and Arts I am troubled by the options. There are so many ways that libraries are organizing collections, which one is the best for my community? Is it one of the systems I have heard or read about or a system which has not yet been invented? Which brings me to the next question: If we all dump Dewey for different systems of organization, how will kids move from one library to the next and easily find what they need? For that matter, will kids and parents be frustrated by two different systems within the same building?

There are many more questions than answers for me at this point, but I am encouraged by the success of my colleagues. Where are you with DDC?


  1. Liz Deskins

    I also struggle with this. So I compromised, nonfiction is still in Dewey arrangement because I believe there needs to be consistency, but have rearranged my fiction. I enlisted the support of my student library advisory board, surveyed students, and arranged fiction by genre. I am happy with the result! I get a lot more browsing by my high school students, they know what genre they like, and now that can peruse that section and learn new authors. Another benefit, spontaneous conversation about books and ideas! Behind the scenes, we amended the record of each book to list the shelving location so that if someone just knows the title of the book we can still find it. I was new to this library, and it also clearly showed me where I need more collection development.

  2. Nancee

    You are spot on about the different ways libraries organize their collections. I had a couple of parents tell me it would make much more sense if our collections were organized by Lexile level!

    1. Wendy Brennan

      How do those parents think Lexile level will make things easier to find? Where the heck did they get that idea?? They obviously have no idea about what it’s like in an elementary school library! Plus there’s the social considerations of what kids go to what section, and everyone knows their reading level. I don’t like that! Those parents have the wrong focus.

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