Sunday, November 20, 2011

User-Friendly? - Part 1

Tome ReaderI had been rolling an idea around in my head for several years ... reorganizing my fiction collection by genre.  Finally, last year, I decided to actually go for it.  It genuinely took an entire school year + a few months into the second school year.  Now that it is 99% finished, I have no regrets.  I am so glad the library has been reorganized.


1.  Bookstores
Bookstores don't organize themselves using the Dewey Decimal system.  They use the BISC - Book Industry Standards and Communication which was developed by the BISG - Book Industry Study Group.  According to their website:
  • BISG motivates and moderates debate about current book industry practices and about the future of digital publications on the international book trade
  • BISG develops, maintain and promotes standards and best practices that enable the book industry to conduct business more efficiently and cost-effectively. Our standards cover a wide range of business processes, including product identification and description, business communications, product and carton labeling and digital discovery and delivery.
  • BISG conducts and publishes primary research related to the size of the U.S. book industry and in areas of topical interest such as the environmental impact of the book industry and consumer attitudes toward digital publishing.
 2.  Help Me Find a Book!
I wonder if libraries ever performed any market research on using Dewey for classifying their entire collection?  Now, I cannot claim that I performed any sort of market research before I made the decision to change.  However, I was constantly asked by students to help them find a book - they didn't have a specific one in mind ... they wanted recommendations.  So, the first words that would come out of my mouth were, "Well, what are you in the mood for?  Mystery, fantasy, sports, romance ...?"  Once I knew the genre they were looking to read at the moment, I say, "Ok, let's walk the shelves and I'll pull out a few options for you."  Being the librarian, I was uniquely aware of my collection - what books/authors I had available and where they were on the shelves.  So, the student and I would walk through the shelves and I would begin pulling off a book here and there that I thought would interest them.  After providing them with a few options and telling them a little about each one, they would make their decision or ask me to show them more.

I realized my collection was only friendly to students looking up a specific book or author.  For the students that knew they wanted to read a scary story, but didn't know an exact title or author that they wanted, the collection's organization was not meeting their needs.  They needed me and my knowledge of where the scary stories were in my fiction collection in order to find a few options to sort through.  Sure, they could look up scary stories in the library catalog, but the number of results in a bit overwhelming and then looking through the entire fiction collection to pull a few out for themselves to decide was not something that middle school students felt like doing.  I wanted the library to be user-friendly and to promote reading ... I felt like my fiction collection, as it had been organized, was far from doing that.

Book Shelves photo used under Creative Commons license from 


Edit Ostrom said...

I totally agree with you. I got so tired of pulling genre books from the shelves that I just made it easy for myself and prepared genre shelves. Better than the stickers! I just point kids to the proper shelves, and they can browse! Of course, I still make suggestions based on age, personality,etc, but the dedicated shelves really help on busy days.

Miss M said...

Thanks for visiting! I love to hear of other librarians that have done this too!