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Future of Libraries 2010
Cracking the Code: Beyond Dewey
Rachel Fewell and Lynda Freas, Anythink Libraries

The Colorado Libraries decided that they wanted their new libraries to be a third place, and to banish Dewey. London had the “idea store” — an experience model that was not common in libraries. Maricopa County and Frankfurt Library (IL) did a word based system. Darien Library created subject-oriented “glades” of materials and Hennepin has broken their collection into “neighborhoods” with groups by topic but still with Dewey labels.

In 2009 they did a roll-out of their “Anythink Libraries” brand to replace their former name, the Rangeview Library District. The buildings were remodeled to include reading areas with fireplaces, comfortable furniture, children’s areas with kid-friendly and colorful furniture. They put their family and parenting books in the children’s area. The shelving was all perfectly linear, but they moved to a bookstore shelving model with modular shelves at right angles, with curves, and all oriented by topic/word (they’re calling them neighborhoods). The libraries’ collections are being classified and shelved with words and not numbers.

4 people spent 1000 hours doing their catalog conversion for the whole system from Dewey to word-oriented classification, which they call WordThink. It took about a week per branch to do the conversion, and the new branches all are launched in BISAC. They replaced all of their labels with items that were brighter and more readable too. Topics like farming, languages, etc. These signs are yellow typeface on a green background. Second level signage is provided on the shelves themselves vertically, blue typeface on a white background. Nonfiction is filed alphabetically by title, except for areas that it doesn’t make sense (e.g. literary criticism). Fiction is filed by author within each genre.

They had to figure out with their vendors and technical services librarians how to translate BISAC classifications into WordThink classification. BISAC grids are available for free online to everyone. They also planned for yearly updates and retrofitting. 4 staff members changed item records for all the dewey ranges, going through item by item. Every single non-fiction collection was converted (including LPs, Books on CD, J & E, Teen).

“Future of Libraries 2010: Cracking the Code: Beyond Dewey (Rachel Fewell & Lynda Freas)”

  1. Char Bohnett @ Midwest Tape Says:

    Guest blogger, library consultant, and former Collection Development Coordinator for the Cuyahoga County Public Library Patrick Steele discusses Dewey vs. WordThink and also links to the aforementioned article in a Midwest Tape News & Views blog post entitled Browsability or Findability? Check it out here:

  2. Lynda Freas Says:

    Thanks for your comments about our presentation. We certainly enjoyed doing it. Just one correction — it took 4 (not 400) people 1000 hours to do the catalog conversion.

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    [...] refers to community members who visit the library or use its resources as “customers.” Talk about making the library a Third Place. Childrens' space at an Anythink, Perl Mack. Image courtesy of ilovemyanythink [...]

  5. D. McWethy Says:

    Let’s see, family & parenting books in the children’s area…non-traditional, alternate lifestyles, that sort of thing…will that suit those parents who protect their children from exposure to ideas that don’t agree with their (the parents) worldview?

  6. Voices for the Library» Blog Archive » Running libraries the Anythink way Says:

    [...] they don’t charge fines, don’t use Dewey, they don’t use traditional titles for staff preferring instead to call them a ‘wrangler’, [...]

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    [...] they don’t charge fines, don’t use Dewey, they don’t use traditional titles for staff preferring instead to call them a ‘wrangler’, [...]

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