Infomancy n. 1.The field of magic related to the conjuring of information from the chaos of the universe. 2.The collection of terms, queries, and actions related to the retrieval of information from arcane sources.

The DDC is Killing our Libraries

April 9th, 2010 by infomancy

The Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) is broken. I am not going to entertain any sort of conversation on this point, it is just a fact you need to accept. Accept it, and move on. One of the incontrovertible facts that clearly demonstrate the brokenness of DDC is that we have to teach DDC, and that is the focus here.

Consider for a moment a brief exchange from Apple’s recent iPhone OS4 briefing:
“Q: How do you close applications when multitasking?
A: (Scott Forstall) You don’t have to. The user just uses things and doesn’t ever have to worry about it.
A: (Steve Jobs) It’s like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it. In multitasking, if you see a task manager… they blew it. Users shouldn’t ever have to think about it.” [Engadget]

If we have to teach our library classification system to a student, we blew it. If our users have to think about it, we blew it. If we have to spend weeks teaching students how to use DDC we certainly blew it. DDC does not, in any way, prepare students for success in college or in a career. As such, it is something that we cannot teach any longer. Let me repeat that. We cannot – indeed must not – waste our time teaching anything that cannot be shown to have a direct impact on the preparation of students for success in college and careers.

So when (not if, when) we get rid of DDC, we are going to need a new system. So what should it look like? The basis of the new system I would suggest needs to be the basic concept of “Don’t make me think!” When I walk into a school library, especially an elementary school library where the DDC is especially developmentally inappropriate, I should immediately and instinctively understand how and why books are classified. When I want to find a book about animals, why aren’t they all located together? Under the new system, they will be.

Why not have the types of animals in alphabetical order so I can find the cat books after the bird books and before the dog books. Countries? Put them in alphabetical order also. History? Timeline order would be much more sensible here. Now I am not a classifier, so obviously I am breaking all kinds of rules and mucking things up, but I strongly believe that these ideas are solid.

Instead of a 200 year old system that doesn’t make sense, we need a new system that just works. Steve Jobs, love him or hate him, makes things that work. You don’t have to learn how to use an iPad, children just pick it up and start using it because it is an almost instinctual interface. They have hidden the things that you shouldn’t have to think about and removed the minutia that require instruction. Libraries must do the same. We must make our collections accessible, with a user experience that just works. And to do that, we must rid ourselves of the Dewey Decimal System.

25 Responses to “The DDC is Killing our Libraries”

  1. Kathy Lowe Says:

    As always Chris, you’re one (or two, or three) steps ahead of the rest of us in your thinking – and I think you’re on to something here. I’ll be interested in reading other’s responses.

  2. Ellen Hrebeniuk Says:

    Do people *teach* DDC to students in any detailed way? I can’t remember the last time I taught students more than its name, that it is a subject-based way of addressing/locating our materials, and to take the number in steps when looking for an item (first three digits, then post-decimal point digits, then extension letters). It just works. (Well, that legacy collection in the 820s would be a problem if we actually taught literature, but I work in a TAFE college.) The arcana can be left to the cataloguing librarian.

    Our photocopy accounts system, however…

  3. Christopher Harris Says:

    DDC is certainly taught in many (most?) K-12 libraries. This has been a staple lesson in elementary schools, despite the fact that it is not really appropriate as it is based on mathematical concepts that are not introduced until later years Decimals, for example, are first encountered in fourth grade (about age 9-10) in the new Common Core Standards.

    I would rather see us teach the more life-based skill of organizing information. Though, even that skill is changing as search functionality increases. It isn’t about dropping files into folders anymore, but rather about naming and tagging to facilitate location in your local index. Folders are gone from GMail, and even tags seem to be disappearing in favor of robust searching. None of this is addressed through DDC instruction. So why would we still teach it?

    And therein lies the problem. We have to teach it because we still use it in our libraries. And it is such an ancient, convoluted, and broken system for our students that we must teach it. Obvious solution? Remove DDC.

  4. Rebecca Clark Says:

    I’m in the SLIS graduate program at University of South Carolina and I had to share this link with my classmates. We have been talking about the newest classification systems and how these can have an impact on how a library functions. You’ve got supporters in SC who agree that the DDC should be on its way out. I could not agree more with your views on the DDC and I look forward to reading more!

  5. W. B. Says:

    Yes yes yes I love this idea! Our library is moving towards a system like this, using bins for all shark books, bird books, etc. I would love to hear what other schools are doing or are envisioning.

  6. Ellen Hrebeniuk Says:

    But who says you have to teach DDC to a depth that takes weeks? As I said, I can teach an adult how to use DDC in five minutes; I suppose it would be longer for a class of 7yos but IANAT. Isn’t the real issue that your information literacy syllabus is broken? (Actually, your Dewey is as well, if your animal books aren’t all together, but your article comes across as satire to me.)
    Just quickly, if I were teaching IL to kids, I would want them to understand that the object of any search has an address to help us find it, whether it’s a page number, map coordinate or tag. This idea was only implicit when I was at school. Must find out what they do these days at my children’s school!

  7. Christopher Harris Says:

    Exactly my two points, Ellen. DDC is certainly broken for school aged children because animals are in two places. Wild animals are in the 590s and pets/farm animals are in 630s. If you want a book about motorcycles, you have to go to the 620s, but if you want to learn about motorcycle racing that would be in the 790s.

    The animals issue is an easy fix under my proposed system; just put all of the animal books together under that top level domain. But what do we do with the split between the thing and the use of the thing? That I am still pondering.

    As for instruction, there is a great deal of confusion about teaching in school libraries as things are in a period of great change with a new library curriculum and massive shifts in technology. I agree that our focus needs to be on teaching the more general ideas of information search, retrieval, and organization. Not a specific system of classification, but the idea that information will be classified in some way (later on we teach them how to classify information they encounter that isn’t in a system). So my point continues to be, if we want to teach higher level skills then why do we persist in using a system of classification in our schools that is both obviously broken and developmentally inappropriate for our users?

    And no, this isn’t satire but a real call to action…more on that in a post this afternoon (or tomorrow morning for you in Oz?).

  8. Brad Czerniak Says:

    I admire your desire to make library use as easy as Apple products. I just have a few comments regarding why it’s MUCH more difficult that you’re making it seem:

    DDC isn’t 200 years old – it’s 134 years old. The context of its creation is a fascinating look into its structure, as David Weinberger explains in his book Everything is Miscellaneous. There’s obviously bias introduced, but that will be true for any taxonomy. Check out that book for a lot of information about information retrieval. It’s great.

    Let’s say you want to put all the cat books in one place, alphabetically. Is that alphabetical by a vernacular name, like Jaguar? Or the biological taxonomic name Panthera onca? Even then, is it alphabetical starting at the felidae family and then drilling down by genus and species? Is it appropriate to do it one way in school libraries but differently in other libraries? Wouldn’t that be useful for students studying biology? Can there be “One classification to rule them all?”

    Let’s say there’s a different classification just for school libraries – how would it help students to learn one classification (even if your notion that “we shouldn’t have to” could ring true) and then have to learn another when they graduate to big-people libraries? Such a transition would be best if it were iterative or additive, I suppose. Like, “Dewey Lite” for school libraries.

    The Jaguar example applies to almost anything you’d like to place in the classification. You’ve already pointed to one taxonomic problem (nouns vs. verbs), and there are plenty more where that came from. Books can be about more than one thing, and can even contextually be placed based entirely on context. It’s a many-to-one, one-to-many problem that isn’t going to get fixed overnight.

    The very nature of DDC, LC, etc. allows an item to have tons of metadata attached to it, then to have that item placed in a logical and predictable place. Any given item could be placed anywhere else with varying levels of appropriateness (and really they are by cross-reference) – uniform call numbers are there simply for retrieval. The ability to retrieve said item somewhat-reliably means sacrificing some browsability and perhaps “user friendliness.”

    There’s a distinction here as to user behavior and the nature of the collection. If it’s a strictly browsing collection, you should arrange books in a manner that facilitates browsing. If it’s a searching collection then ease of retrieval necessitates a sacrifice of ready browsing. Dewey mitigates this somewhat by classifying on main subject. Imagine an entire library shelved alphabetically by title or author, or by the barcode number. Looking at it from that perspective shows that Dewey isn’t SO bad.

    Ideally a user would think, “hey, it’d be cool if I had a book about airplanes.” and magically the perfect book would drop through a wormhole onto their lap. The eBook ecosystem will eventually put far fewer steps from the original thought to actually reading the material compared to the current model. But since we are talking about physically retrieving things (with the assistance of a computer catalog, which is an important contextual thing to remember), it’s not “iPad easy.” There are problems of retrieval by necessity, such as walking and scanning with the eyes on the stacks.

    I’m not saying Dewey is the right answer. I’m also not saying that Dewey is incontrovertibly broken, because that we be a difficult position to defend. There are other options already out there – the Open Shelves Classification project for libraries, and BISAC for retail.

    Once again, I admire your zeal. May I advise that perhaps your tenacity for dogging Dewey isn’t completely warranted without a well-considered alternative?

  9. Amanda Says:

    I remember being really pissed when I got to college and found out that they used an entirely different classification system from the public libraries, but then I learned LOC, and I remember being stunned at how much more smart it is than DDC.

    I think it’s brilliant to organize the children’s room (and elementary school libraries) by subject. For the “there’s an address for an item” issue, just color-code it. Then they still need to know that red=animals, which is planting the seed for LOC later.

    As for the adults, why the heck don’t they just use LOC for nonfiction and subject/author for fiction?

  10. Ernie Cox Says:

    Thank you for igniting another important conversation for the school library community.

    TEACHING PRACTICES: There are still a large number of school librarians teaching the DDC system as a discrete unit of study. In these scenarios the librarian invents a reason for using DDC as a means of teaching (no real learning context). A different route used by some is to embed age appropriate/relevant introductions to the system within rich learning experiences where students can actually use DDC to locate information related to important questions.

    OUTCOMES: This is one of the teaching practices our professional cannot and has not been able to back up with solid student outcomes. Many, many hours of instruction have been devoted to this kind of teaching and yet many students don’t know how to use the DDC system. How does the instruction we’ve done on DDC connect to other systems students are using? And when students go off to college, guess what kids?, we’re switching systems on you. And when they visit our schools as parents I often hear “I don’t remember anything about the DDC system”. How many parents in most communities need the DDC on a daily basis?

    GOING FORWARD: The most immediate need in school libraries is to make the hard thinking we require of our students be about acquiring and creating knowledge. If our mission is to ensure that every student is an effective and efficient user and creator of information how can we justify practices that impede the goal? Stop spending time teaching the system in isolation. Find other ways of guiding students to use the DDC. Alternate systems are out there and we should be talking about them. Brad has pointed to several factors we need to keep in mind as we do this.

    I encourage everyone to look at the shift that many library schools have made. The traditional cataloging class (DDC and LC) is an elective now and the required course is Organization of Information (or some variation on the theme). This should tell us something about the future of school libraries.

    Chris isn’t advocating we stop teaching classification/organization scheme he is pointing out that new modes are needed. I don’t think we need to have clear answers to problems before we pose questions – not with big issues demanding collaborative solutions.


  11. Brad Czerniak Says:

    Ernie -

    With regard to your last paragraph: I agree wholeheartedly that people should pose tough questions and the library community should work together to find the best answers.

    It’s how the post is written that prompted my last comment’s last paragraph – “The DDC is Killing our Libraries”, “The Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) is broken.”, “One of the incontrovertible facts that clearly demonstrate the brokenness of DDC is that we have to teach DDC, and that is the focus here.”

    That’s not how I’d post a contentious question; but then again that’s just me. A sensational post can expect sensational comments.

  12. stevenb Says:

    You could close the stacks and have all the books brought to the community members – then they don’t need to deal with call numbers. Unfortunately that requires more staff, longer waits and no browsing. Eventually we might have the robotic systems that make this easy to do. I come to the library. I search a word and the interface shows me all the related books. I touch the screen to pick them. They are delivered in a few moments. But maybe I might as well be saying the solution to traffic jams is giving everyone a jetpack. I don’t know that any classification system is broken. They work as designed – but they’re not intuitive. But most people can figure it out. LC is a little better. But yes, it all has to be designed to give a better library experience.

  13. Jennifer Pennington Says:

    I have a friend whose son is struggling in 3rd grade because he’s having trouble learning the DDC. That’s right. They spend so much time studying it, it’s actually affecting this kid’s grade in school. I suppose this is more of a systems issue than a “viability of the DDC” issue, but it’s certainly something to consider.

  14. Wendy Stephens Says:

    I enjoyed this post and the discussion it has engendered. Laura Pearle has talked persuasively about the limitations of Dewey at YALSA’s 3.0 Institutue at ALAL:

    and then again this week at the Alabama Library Association just this week:

    As Laura said pointedly, if the educated adults who work in our libraries aren’t sure where to find a particular topic, what hope have we that students will be able to locate what they need?

    The fact that many time-pressed school librarians rely on vendor cataloging and classification, without tailoring those to their particular student populations and curriculums, compounds the issue, in my opinion.

  15. Raya Samet Says:

    Dewey has its issues, especially when it comes to certain types of books. But the underlying problems with shelving physical objects (as we learned from Everything is Miscellaneous) is that they can only be in one place, as opposed to digital items that can literally be everywhere at once. Any classification system that we use is really just about matching up the contents with the physical retrieval of the item.
    As a school librarian who has taught very young children how to navigate between locating the item in the catalog and then finding it on the shelf, I can tell you that DDC is not broken enough to abandon until there is truly something better available. We just need to be able to explain it simply and clearly, and to augment it with some good shelf labeling.
    The reason that catalogers and librarians study DDC and other classification systems is to be able to make good decisions about where things should go–for instance, graphic novels and series fiction with multiple authors. If we as librarians make good decisions about how to classify and shelve these items, add correct and abundant metadata to enable discovery, and if we have a consistent retrieval scheme that patrons can navigate (like DDC), then we can stop spending our time agonizing about how to put things on the shelves and use it instead to help them evaluate and use the content that they find.

  16. James Mabe Says:

    So if you have a book about birds, it goes under ‘B’ for birds; if you have a book about eagles, does it go under ‘B’ or ‘E’? If you have Mr Rogers’ book about what happens when you get mad, does it go under ‘M’ for mad, ‘A’ for Anger, ‘F’ for feelings, or ‘E’ for emotions? Cats go under ‘C,’ that’s no problem. Where does a book about cats go if it’s in Spanish? ‘C,’ still? ‘G’ for gatos? ‘S’ for Spanish?

    I think the problem I have with what you’re saying is that there is no classification system as easy to use as the iPad’s interface; if there were, of course libraries would already be using it. It is not in the interest of libraries to obfuscate; it is however in the nature of things (especially works of the intellect) to be difficult to organize. The millions of lines of code and years of progress inherent in the iPad’s simplicity did not simply happen; they were not granted to the world at this time because it suddenly occurred to Steve Jobs that maybe people might want something simple to use — they are the product of many companies’ innovations.

    While I agree that innovation is a necessary ingredient in libraries, and that our classification systems are sorely lacking, I think that meaningful change comes not from polemics against the old but rather in thoughtful consideration and trial-and-error. Yes, it has problems, but DDC makes a lot of sense and has dozens of mnemonic devices that fascinate those who have discovered them; making connections between 951, 915.1, 895.1, and 305.8951 can’t help but be more interesting than “Look under ‘F’ for ‘Farm Animals.’”

  17. Christopher Harris Says:

    So let me try to address a number of points in one comment. I think Steve said it really well: “They work as designed – but they’re not intuitive. But most people can figure it out.” As I noted above this was an idea for elementary school libraries. Forget Latin names of animals; cats are under “c” and jaguars are under “j” with the Spanish language books probably under the English name unless there was a large, more fully realized bilingual program/collection. The point is to get away from non-developmentally appropriate numbers with decimals. The halfway solution is to ban decimals from DDC in elementary schools; but why not make some real change instead?

    Now I am certainly not a taxonomer, so these are just some thoughts to get things flowing, but I would think that most of the questions raised here can be answered by considering the context and audience. Would a Mr. Rogers book about being mad be under “m” for mad or “e” for emotions? Depends on the context and audience. If you have a larger character education program, then i would suggest that there be a secondary level domain called emotions and under that grouping you would place the book under “m” for mad if that was the title (don’t confuse elementary students) or perhaps under “a” for anger if that is the common vocabulary word being used in the classrooms.

    I think stevenb might have been joking, but I would actually agree with the usefulness of just going with shelving by accession number. Maybe then we would have to get a clue about our OPACs! If you think I bring a passionate polemic about DDC (and yes I do, for the reason that it gets conversation going, but trust me, I am willing to work too) then don’t get me started on the sorry state of our catalogs. Only I already fixed that for my libraries with

  18. David Says:

    “One of the incontrovertible facts that clearly demonstrate the brokenness of DDC is that we have to teach DDC.”

    Math, reading, and writing are also broken.
    Using the toilet instead of a diaper requires potty training, but I think it is well worth it.

    “We cannot – indeed must not – waste our time teaching anything that cannot be shown to have a direct impact on the preparation of students for success in college and careers.”

    That is truly one of the most depressing visions of education that I have ever seen.
    But, even so, being able to learn to navigate complex, non-intuitive systems seems to me to be a pretty useful skill.

    “The basis of the new system I would suggest needs to be the basic concept of ‘Don’t make me think!’”
    An inspiring new vision for library services.

    Look, the DDC has plenty of problems, and it may be possible to create better systems. What really concerns me is the idea that there is some system that just makes sense.
    There isn’t.
    If you have a large book collection, or music, or films, or whatever, spend a couple hours developing an organizational system that makes sense. Then take that system to someone else’s collection, and organize it for them.

    Even in your own system, if you are honest with yourself, it won’t work most of the time. You arrange your movies into categories of drama, comedy, horror, etc. and then decide you want to watch movies staring a certain actor. Or movies in French. Or new movies.

    You complain that animals are split between wild animals, and domestic animals. Yes, that is inconvenient if you want to browse all the books on animals, but if you only want. It makes no sense, until you are doing a project on farm animals. Then you have to think (Oops, system broken!) about what animals are on the farm.


    Kid: I want books on mean, big angry bulls.
    Librarian: All our animals books are listed alphabetically.
    Kid: So, bulls are under B!
    Librarians: No.
    Kid: This is stupid.

    It is very very tempting to wave these away saying that the details can be worked out later, once we all agree that the system needs an overhaul. But these details are all there is.

    “Depends on the context and audience” is fine, but the context and audience changes with every single interaction with the system.

    Making choices for the collection based on the programs and needs of the specific school is nice, but how many school librarians have the time, interest and expertise to re-invent that particular wheel? What we need is a ‘good enough’ general system that works decently well in virtually every context. Something like the DDC.

  19. Christopher Harris Says:

    David, I sense some logical fallacies in your comment, but I am glad that you are passionate enough to share your thoughts. So here is the problem: having to teach (seriously, elementary school librarians spend weeks per year on DDC lessons) an organization system means that something is broken. This is especially true in the modern (and yes, often depressing) educational program when there is no money, libraries are being cut around the country, and the biggest focus is on multle choice test results.

    I am guessing based on your responses that you (and many of the other commenters here) are not school librarians. Here is what we are facing; we have a lovely new set of standards that are focused on inquiry, knowledge generation, social sharing of information, and aesthetic growth. This is what we need to teach. This is what will prepare our students to be thinkers. Teaching DDC is a waste of time that makes us look backwards and ill-prepared for inclusion in the 21st century school. Red herrings and slippery slopes aside, we are going to teach reading and writing (and even potty training) but not DDC.

    At least not in elementary schools. Beacause in elementary schools, we are working with subject limited collections with a reasonably high degree of commaonality. I did not say that each library would define a system, rather that we would look at the needs of elementary libraries; at their context and audience. For young students, a book on bulls would be under “b” because that is where students would look. Leaving aside the sarcasm, that is an idea that works for the users’ developmental level.

    I certainly appreciate the input from outside of school libraries; the time for silos is well past. If school libraries continue to disappear, trust me that academic and public libraries won’t be far behind. So thanks for the thoughts, but if you just want to be negative…well, we don’t need that liked of help.

    As you said yourself, David, DDC isn’t perfect. Maybe it is time we stopped settling for mediocre.

  20. Updates « Venn Librarian Says:

    [...] Harris wrote the DDC is Killing our Libraries – and I have to say that I’m in partial agreement with him (did you look at my YALSA [...]

  21. David Says:

    Thanks for the response. I think I did miss your point:
    “Having to teach (seriously, elementary school librarians spend weeks per year on DDC lessons) an organization system means that something is broken.”
    Good god, yes! Spending weeks teaching the DDC is a colossal waste of time, and a squandered opportunity for school librarians to do something interesting. I agree with that 100%. But I don’t think it is the DDC. Abandon that curriculum! Kids (adults, librarians) don’t need to learn the DDC in that much detail. They need to learn the concept of classification, which could be a very fun afternoon project. They need to learn that the books are classified by number, so that books with the same topic are in the same areas, and they need to learn how to search the catalog, and get from the result to the right area in the shelves. Search the catalog, notice which two or three places the results are coming from, go to the shelves. That’s it. Not weeks. Two class periods. And then a lot of practice. The mediocrity here is in the curriculum, not the DDC.
    I think you also missed my point: Classification systems don’t work without thinking, because they are designed in advance of the query. It is easy to say books about bulls will be under B, when I give that example. It is much hard to anticipate what whether kids are more likely to look for books about bulls or books about cattle. If I had said rams, would you have said R? And ewes under E? Or would both of those go under sheep?
    And the book “Woolly Sheep and Hungry Goats” or How to Handle Your Cat/Dog? Or my forthcoming title: David’s illustrated guide to dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, hamsters and other common pets?
    There is no way to write about the stupid, irritating little details that make up a classification system, without sounding like the kind of stupid, irritating, small minded person who can’t see the forest for the trees. But, any classification forest is made up of just this sort of tree.
    DDC is clunky. Maybe more so that it needs to be, but the big problems you identify are inherent in any classification system that has a physical manifestation (ie, an object in that system is assigned to a discrete location.)
    I can agree with you that a better system is theoretically possible.
    But dedicating ourselves to designing a new one is rearranging furniture on the Titanic. Locating physical objects is going to be a smaller and smaller part of the search process. It will always be important, and we will always need some way to usefully organize our physical collections so that we can both find specific items, and usefully browse the collection. That’s what DDC does, and does well enough as long as we keep tweaking it. From other comments, I think you’d agree that our catalogs are the real disaster here.
    And I wasn’t trying to be mean. Well, ok, a little mean. But for someone involved in the schools to use need for teaching as a negative criteria…

    In any case, thanks for the provocative post!

  22. dianemadeline Says:

    I thought I was so radical for not teaching the DDC to my elementary school students. I’m printing out this post and hanging it over my desk. No more guilt at my district-wide meetings!

  23. NormTheLibrarian Says:

    This is a silly discussion. There has to be a shelf arrangement – so choose something, perhaps an accession number, the ISBN, or the DOI, whatever… The challenge is making it intuitively obvious. I’ve tried hiring students in a community college setting to shelve books. Any number of them couldn’t pass the test on decimals. The only possible solution I can see for intuitively obvious is a Randtriever (automated physical retrieval system) with a computer interface that accepts verbal input.
    The bottom line here is that there are more important professional problems to deal with like how to arrange and deliver information so that it is exactly tangent to the state of knowledge of the recipient rather than being too simple or too esoteric for them.

  24. Ellen Hrebeniuk Says:

    Why do people have to spend weeks on DDC lessons (what on earth are you all DOING in that time?). Surely you can drop a lot of the fluff by conforming your teaching programme to those shiny new standards? And isn’t that going to “just work” a lot faster than creating a Harris Classification?

    That is, I am not convinced that replacing DDC with some other taxonomy is going to get you anywhere, because I think your real problem is not the annoyances in DDC, but the fact that you are “teaching DDC” instead of “teaching information literacy”.

    If you truly “agree that our focus needs to be on teaching the more general ideas of information search, retrieval, and organization,” just do it. Use DDC’s strengths and weaknesses as examples of the principles. The point is that you sholdn’t be teaching DDC per se — as I commented before, we need to make explicit the principle and the example. Older curricula probably don’t do that.

  25. Sam Says:

    I’m a bit late to this discussion and generally refrain from adding my two bits. Yet this is a novel discussion and I cannot resist.

    I have worked with K-12 libraries for over a decade. As an executive for a library data and services company, I have had the privilege of working with school districts in their efforts to improve library services. I have also been party to some wonderful projects and experiments on the issue of improving a library’s effectiveness in terms of curriculum integration and one study, which simply looked at how to get children to read a book.

    To get to my point – DDC is hardly the problem in terms of getting children – of any age, to become life-long readers. For a child that has discovered the love for reading, the shelving of materials is only a problem when the materials are not aligned to the OPAC. Even then, avid readers are very creative (and demanding!) in finding the materials they are interested in – the DDC is a small hiccup at worst.

    And it’s not the DDC that is keeping non readers from becoming readers.

    What is keeping non readers from our libraries and thus ‘killing them’ is the simple fact that most schools do not proactively engage their students in the act of reading library materials. ( A case studies will be out soon, I hope but it is a statewide study – A school district of 68 schools mostly Title I, 70% fail rate in state testing for reading, science had very well equipped libraries. Data showed that on average, 65% of all students checked out less than 2 books in their K-12 career. 20% had no record of being in a library. The district mandated that each student at every level must check out at least 1 book per month. 4 years later, the districts reading test scores passed at an 85% rate. The schools that were already making the test grades, had the highest circulation rates – attributed to librarians who with administrative support, proactively engaged students to read…)

    Next dagger – most libraries do not proactively engage their curriculum colleagues to utilize library materials in ways meaningful to daily curricula being taught.

    This conversation is academically interesting and companies such as mine would appreciate the business that would come from the wholesale relabeling of books and the editing of electronic data. A better method than DDC? Better ways are not always the best ways when bridled by pragmatism; nixing DDC is moot, at least for today.