Ditching Dewey: Library switching to more user-friendly classification system


Libraries have changed a lot over the past century, however, the way most organize the books on the shelf hasn’t. The Dewey Decimal system has been the gold standard for libraries nationwide for generations when it comes to how to arrange books. While the system is effective, it is something many don’t consider to be user-friendly. It is the reason that staff at Vespasian Warner Public Library in Clinton are looking to take a new approach. 

“Most people don’t know how to use it. It is a bit of a complicated and convoluted system. That doesn’t work for modern library users.” says Warner Public Library Executive Director Bobbi Perryman 

The library is beginning the process of switching its non-fiction collection from traditional Dewey classification, while groups books numerically through categories, to a keyword based system. It is a new approach that library staff hopes make patrons feel more at ease searching for the books they need. 

Perryman says Clinton is just one of four public libraries in Illinois that is utilizing the new system. The other local library with a similar system in the Effingham Public Library. 

“The libraries I have talked to that have done this have found an increase in their circulation. That is what we want, people finding our resources.” Perryman says 

The Clinton library will begin phasing in the new classification system gradually over the next few months. 

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