Ditch Dewey?

Hi friends!

Be forewarned that some material in this post may be shocking to Dewey aficionados. If this describes you, dear reader, please avert your eyes…

Yesterday, as I was browsing Pinterest, I saw this blog post about a middle school librarian in South Carolina who decided to ditch Dewey to make her library less confusing and more user-friendly. My first reaction was an audible gasp!

What would I do without all of those decimals to bring order out of chaos? How would I even organize the non-fiction without Dewey? What would my principal say? My teachers? My students?

This has been on my mind for the past 24 hours, and my initial shock has been replaced by thoughtful contemplation. I read more about it on the Dewey-Free Library Scoop It.

I have to admit that I’m intrigued. Our students (and library volunteers, and some teachers) seem to stay confused about the Dewey Decimals, no matter how many scavenger hunts we have. I want students to find “good fit” books quickly, so that they don’t check out books they aren’t interested in and/or can’t read. Would a new, simpler system of organization help them with this?

I’m definitely thinking about it. Next month, I have to pack and move every book in our library so we can get new carpet over the summer. Since I have to pick up and handle every single book, is now the time to give this a try? If I didn’t have to teach kids the Dewey Decimal system, could I use that time to teach skills more important to twenty-first century learning? Would it boost circulation and help students to read more, learn more?

Here are more articles to feed your thoughts:

An elementary school library in Colorado uses WordThink, like bookstores do, to organize books.

This school library leader in New York thinks that abandoning Dewey will make libraries more intuitive, like an iPad.

School Library Monthly article about the above-mentioned elementary school in Colorado

A public library in Wisconsin drops Dewey.

The word-based classification system is called BISAC.

Bound To Stay Bound article about reorganizing even the picture book section on the bookstore model

So…have any of you tried this? Do you want to? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us!

  • Cari Signature

    Similar Posts


    1. I’ve totally read about that (she has some other interesting posts, too). But … seriously don’t see how it’s all that different. Animal books are already together in Dewey. Arts & crafts books are already together. Sports books are already together. Only thing is maybe the military books … the people are in the 300s and the tech (like tanks, aircraft carriers, etc) are in the 600s. Libraries still need to have good signage plus well thought out floorplan and as reasonable facilities as humanly possible. And then users still need to use their heads!

      But then I am a library nerd.

      1. It just seems like it’s not the best use of time to keep all those books in decimal number order, when we librarians are the only ones who understand it. I definitely need to work on my signs, emphasizing the subject, rather than the number.

    2. After reading the blog post, I am interested in this non-traditional view. I see how she put all the categories back on the shelves in alphabetical order. Interesting. I could almost go for this, but I also see that one of her categories is ANIMALS. So, call number for all animals (in fact, all nonfiction books) is NON _ _ _ (first 3 letters of author’s last name). and the genre sticker is for animals. how are all the different animals together? Sounds like a clump of all the animals. I could see this presenting a problem with many “categories” that would need subcategories. I think Dewey kind of already solved that pretty well….
      Still, I am always looking for ways to get the books into the kids’ hands, so I will not completely discount it. Must read more about it….

    3. I was browsing through today {looking for some inspiration} and stumbled across this. I am curious to know if you did make the jump and why/why not?!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.