Info and Society Paper

My Info and Society professor requires a final paper, which I’ve started researching now.  The prof asked that we send in annotated bibliographies with a positional introduction.  So, here’s what I wrote for a nearly perfect grade – I forgot to include the database info for the articles so I’ll make sure to include it in the final paper.  So, that’s what’s below…



Although most public, school, and university libraries are cataloged according to the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress classification schemes, a few are changing to match the models offered by large bookstore chains.  This modification is quite controversial among library professionals, but seems to have been received internationally with (mostly) open arms.  The selection of articles and blog entries below offers a balanced look at the arguments for and against adopting a bookstore model within the library. 

The “defectors” have adopted a new scheme so that they may achieve the admirable goals of increasing library circulation and user satisfaction, while bringing past library users back into the fold.  In performing my research, I have found that many libraries have routinely modified their shelving and classification schemes without completely abandoning tried and true methods.  This leads me to believe that the drastic changes undertaken by certain libraries are truly unnecessary, as long as a library is smart and selective about what they change. 


Boter, J. & Wedel, M. (2005 Spring). User categorization of public library collections. Library & Information Science Research. 27(2), 190-202.

The authors study Dutch library users’ checkouts of fiction materials to argue that libraries should match their catalogs to user perceptions to increase circulation.  These studies look at the ways and reasons library users choose which materials to checkout to show that the fiction genre is not categorized properly for customer needs.  They suggest clear categorizations based on book and story attributes, and shelving to match.  This article is highly analytical, using statistical information to back up the main argument.


Boyce, J. I. & Boyce, B. R. (2002 September/October). A reexamination of shelf organization for children’s books. Public Libraries. 41(5), 280-283.

The authors argue that libraries should shelve and categorize children’s materials to match the way patrons request and use the information found within.  They note that many libraries already separate juvenile and adult materials, while using examples from West Baton Rouge Public Library to take it a step further.  This library created new classification and shelving schemes to increase circulation.  Although the authors do not discuss abandoning the Dewey Decimal System, the article is still valuable because it discusses the problems that were solved and the new issues that arose as this scheme was adopted.


Brisco, S. (2004 January). Dewey or dalton: An investigation of the lure of the bookstore. Library Media Connection. 22(4), 36-37.

The author states that libraries should rethink abandoning the Dewey Decimal System because adopting the bookstore model does not necessarily increase the library’s ease of use.  This opinion piece is based upon the author’s visit to a local bookstore called B. Dalton, but it seems to echo the concerns voiced by many library professionals.  She offers a compromise of individual service and subject labels for the shelves as opposed to a complete reorganization.


Feinberg, R. (1998, February 1). B&N: The new college library?. Library Journal. 123(2), 49-51.

As a reference librarian and professor, Renee Feinberg noticed that many undergraduate students visited their local Barnes & Noble (B&N) more often than their university library.  She set out to understand why this was happening, and offer suggestions to attract these students back to the library.  The students she spoke with complained of feeling unwelcome at the library.  They said that it was too quiet, too ugly, and the few books in stock were in very poor condition.  This is in direct contrast with B&N, which is noisy, attractive, and stocks new books in perfect condition.  While the author does not write that the library should make drastic changes, she does note that if the library wants to survive it should focus on the materials it offers, and create a welcoming environment for its students.


Great Western Dragon. (June 12 [no year]). Two days without dewey. Retrieved March 28, 2008 from

This blog entry, written by an employee of Maricopa County Library District, discusses the first two days in the newly unveiled Dewey-less Perry Branch of MCLD.  The author explains that the library opened before many things were finished, including shelf organization, formal signage, and working self-checkout machines.  Patrons browsed, and mentioned that it was generally easy to find materials.  They only suggested that the library finish organizing the shelves to increase the ease of use.  Great Western Dragon’s blog entry offered an employee’s experience of the unveiling of a new Dewey-less library.


Hassett, B. (2007 November/December).The joys of deweying. Library Media Connection. 26, 47.

This opinion piece argues that it is a bad idea to do away with Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC).  The author notes the inefficiencies found within bookstores and explains that DDC is standardized and adaptable.  He also notes that libraries can mimic bookstores by adding shelf labels while still keeping their materials in Dewy order.


Hocknell, H. (2007, June 3). County libraries defend dewey decimal system [Electronic version]. Carroll County Times. Retrieved March 29, 2008, from

            This news article highlights Carroll County Public Library Director Lynn Wheeler’s opposition to Maricopa County’s switch to the bookstore model.  She says that DDC is a better choice for libraries because libraries are constantly re-shelving materials.  These materials must be shelved correctly so that they may be found again.  She notes that library catalogs should be updated so that it is easier to find materials within the library. 


Hopkins, S. (2007 March ). Decimating dewey: Introducing a bookshop arrangement for shelving the nonfiction collection. Australasian Public Library Information. 20(1), 8-13.

As the Collection Services Librarian for Bayside Library Service in Victoria (Australia), Hopkins is in the unique position of being able to explain why and how a library would choose to abandon Dewey.  She described a wealthy, educated, and established community that was comfortable with DDC, and a library that wished to encourage non-fiction checkouts.  Hopkins explains how the library cataloging has changed, and discusses positive and negative responses to the new system.  This article seems well balanced and researched, offering a practical point of view to a drastic change.


Langhorne, M. J. (1987 January). Marketing books in the school library. School Library Journal. 33(5), 31-33.

Although this article is rather dated, it shows that mimicking bookstores is not a new trend in library services.  The author discusses the changes she saw in circulation based upon merchandising school library materials similarly to the way bookstores merchandise their materials.  She initially focused this “new” form of merchandising on the library’s paperback collection, expanding it later as she saw amazing results.  The author highly recommended displaying books in this fashion at any school library.


Raymond, J. (1998 September). Librarians have little to fear from bookstores. Library Journal. 123(15), 41-42.

This article, written by a bookstore employee, explains that the grass is not always greener on the other side.  The author compares bookstores to libraries and finds that both have their strengths and weaknesses.  Bookstores offer selections of the newest items, expanded hours, and nice amenities, while libraries offer excellent customer service, better pay for their employees, and a better classification system.  The author also notes that libraries help preserve the community’s culture, but bookstores are only interested in sales, so their missions are completely different.  This piece was very interesting and offered a different point of view from most of the articles about the subject. 


Read, B. (2007, July 24). What a post-dewey library looks like. The Wired Campus. Retrieved March 1, 2008, from

In this article, the author discusses Maricopa County’s recent switch to the bookstore model.  He explains that they have not abandoned organization altogether, since they will use BISAC headings instead.  These headings are user-centered as opposed to the organization-centered DDC format.  As libraries explore ways to enhance their service, this change can make perfect sense in a consumer friendly world.


Whelan, D. L. (2007 July). Arizona library ditches dewey. School Library Journal. 53(7), 14.

In this article, based on Perry Branch Library abandoning the Dewey Decimal Classification, the author discusses why such a drastic change was undertaken.  One of the most fascinating aspects of this article was the fact that none of the patrons complained about this change.  Writing in an upbeat tone, the author also discusses “outsiders” responses, noting that they either are intrigued by the idea of dropping DDC or are completely against it.  This article is valuable because it gives more background to a controversial change in American libraries.


1 Comment

  1. Absolutely brilliant post guys, been following your blog for 3 days now and i should say i am starting to like your post. and now how do i subscribe to your blog?

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