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MLA2011: Day 3 – What Has Dewey Done for You Lately?

April 28, 2011 · 2 Comments

I’m only attending two sessions today, so you’ll get a little more detail.

What Has Dewey Done For You Lately?: Three different libraries (Darien CT, Wilmington MA, ) talk about their experiences shifting from a straight Dewey organization system for nonfiction to a subject oriented layout. Darien’s Glades, Wilmington’s Neighborhoods, and . Major takeaways: you need to utilize volunteers to make this go smoothly, and they’ll help with word of mouth after you’re done. You need to touch every item. Really. Wilmington discovered that once they pulled out their cooking books and made it standalone, circulation increased 300% in the first two months. Make your popular sections even more popular with this process.

Darien: Identify popular books and create specific areas for them, make inviting collections (good collection practices), change service model (ditch ready reference, interfile reference bks), optimize for browsability, merging books & technology. Combine BISAC + Dewey to retain Dewey address with the browsability of a bookstore. Aggressive weeding (cut heavily in areas of low community interest), revise collection development policy. No change to MARC, change call # to include glade info, clean up catalog. They touched every book and considered it. After opening: listen to patrons, empathize & respond quickly. They moved everything again after a year once they figured out what worked and switched to color coding. “Make Glades part of the greater User Experience,” “Aging Gracefully & Bad Romance (divorce bks)”

Wilmington: Unlike Darien, weren’t moving to a new building, so did slowly over a year and a half. Step 1: Identify categories for the collection you have now, but keep in mind what future categories might come to be important. Step 2: Gather supplies. Step 3: Assign tasks (a few hours a week). Step 4: Touch every book. (This was after they weeded 30% of their collection). Step 5: Add Neighborhood sticker & change call # in database. They left items in Dewey order until The Big Switch. Step 6: Inventory – really good time to clean up physical & database inventory. Step 7: When all prep is done, rearrange. Have a logical flow from one category to the next. Don’t let categories wrap (except history). Weed to make it work – limiting the physical space means you must weed. Lots of faceout books, lots of continuous weeding. 19% increase in circulation overall, items pulled out of stacks had substantial increase, inside the stacks = inconclusive. “Cataloging is good for librarians looking for a book fast, but isn’t suited to a popular collection intended more for browsing than research.”

Groveland: They went to BISAC (Book Industry Standard and Communications) and lost Dewey entirely. Stuck completely with what’s out there. They were renovating and decided to make the switch. Used lots of volunteer brains and brawn to help with the redesign and the construction. “We had two 80-year-old guys who had nothing to do and knew a lot about construction. They cut down our 8′ shelving to open things up.” Again, circulation goes up when you weed, when you make things browsable, when you have attractive collections. They cut 50% of their collections, and nonfiction circ went up 62% over all, with 133% right after the conversion. Train your staff to watch patron traffic flow and keep track of this. You have to be willing to change, responding to requests and patron use. Homemade signs are better than no signs. Move the related magazines to the appropriate categories.

Question from audience: Have you heard of anyone doing this with very large collections? Yes. Topeka & Shawnee County. For instance, spend a year pulling all the books needed for subject displays per month and do each section at that time.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • Janet // May 1, 2011 at 3:51 am

    Would you speak a bit about weeding, from a librarian’s point of view? You mention Wilmington weeded out 30% of their collection. After moving a couple times, I’m much more sympathetic to weeding. However, I remember a lot of library books fondly. It makes me sad that some of the teen collection that I loved 20-odd years ago wouldn’t be there for the next teens to find. Some things were showing their age even then, like the Boxcar Children, or John Bellairs’ books, or the SF short story collections that Ben Bova edited. Do you get the same increases in circulation if you push oldies but goodies? How do you choose what goes?

    • Jennifer // May 4, 2011 at 11:33 am

      The short answer is that many of oldies but goodies are still in print, and we replace the worn out copies of perennial favorites rather than just deleting them. Of the three you mentioned, both Boxcar Children and Bellairs are still in print, findable and circulating well.

      The longer answer is worth a post of it’s own, soon to come. For now, here’s a link back to a related post from my previous blog (which I’ll transfer over at some point).

      http://eclecticlibrary.blogspot.com/2009/12/end-of-year-thoughts.html

      Thanks!

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