Learning Resources Coordinator at sixth form college, Married, 3 kids and dog, Trustee of Signpost (local youth and community charity). environmentalist. occasional blogger. Christian (accepting evangelical)
Cataloguing mash up in a sixth form college library
Currently in our library we have an "evolved"
system. Basically we use Dewey but try to adapt to increase usability and
access to resources. So I suppose we could be described as having a mash up -
relying on signage to help students browse creatively but having the Dewey
numbers to help locate specific texts. Inevitably there are conflicts but
hopefully the system is working and we are always open to suggestions from
staff and students.
We have a reference section containing encyclopaedias, large
format reference books and Big Dictionaries – these are classified according to
Dewey but located in a separate section (partly for practical reasons due to
the physical size of some of these books)
Fiction is classified alphabetically by author. Over the
last two years we have been experimenting with genre and sub-genre groupings on
rotating book displays to encourage browser uptake. I would say this has been
successful in encouraging the leisure readership although inevitably any
attempt to classify books in genre is fraught with problems. I tend to work on the idea of what is the
first thing you think about when you see this book. Is it a crime thriller or a
historical novel? The problem is that many books could easily fit under several
We have tried to be
led by our clientele and as a result we have teased out Dark Romance (Twilight
and similar stories), Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime, Youth Fiction (Young
Adult ), Chick Lit, Graphic Novels and Horror.
We already had separate sections for quick reads and short stories. This
is a work in progress and I am sure we get it wrong frequently but hopefully it
will encourage browsers to find the kind of book they enjoy easily. The rest
stay in the main collection if they do not fit comfortably into a genre.
Careers and Higher Education Shelves – Green Stickers
Located in its own area this is particularly necessary as Dewey
often tends to put careers books into individual subject areas which not easy
for careers browsers.
Staff Development Shelves – Lilac Stickers
Here we place books bought for staff use which if we were
ruled by Dewey would be scattered all-over the library. These include books and
materials on teacher training, class management, class planning, special needs
and the use of VLE for lesson planning.
and Study Skills Shelf – Orange Stickers
This shelf carries everything from memory training, stress management,
study skills advice; self-help guides and is invaluable in the exam season but
often hidden away in psychology or other places.
autobiography are shelved together alphabetically with a distinctive spine
sticker. We also have a rotating book display for recent or topical biographies
Books about individual artists are shelved alphabetically
under the single number 759. The books have a yellow alphabetical sticker on
Photographers are likewise shelved alphabetically under 779
with alphabetical white stickers on the spin.
Poetry at 821, again alphabetically arranged as are
playwrights at 822 with the exception of Shakespeare who has a whole area to
Graphic Artists are currently arranged alphabetically with a
silver spine sticker 741
Fashion Designers are currently being arranged
alphabetically at 746.92 with a pale pink sticker
Now to Dewey
Some subjects group well in Dewey, some do not. When you are
trying to make the library stock as accessible as possible to students it is
sometimes preferable to group subject areas in such a way that they can browse.
Most people prefer to browse, unless they have been given a specific title to
find or are well into academic research. As such it has been necessary to
compromise adherence to the strict tenets of Dewey to a certain extent.
Obviously some of our students will eventually go on to higher education where grounding
in Dewey will be advantageous but we have to balance that with the demands of
our intake. Most of the teenagers who
come to our college are not habitual library users and are often put off by the
library image of exclusivity and rigid behaviour. This is something we are
trying to counter be creating an atmosphere which is open, friendly and
accessible and for it to be obvious where different books can be found. For
this reason we have tried to create clear signs and maps and are working on
developing a lively and entertaining library induction for all students and
staff. It is something we are trying to develop and expand to try to overcome
the barriers to using the library. We also try to encourage use of the VLE
which also gives the students direct access to the library catalogue and a
considerable number of eBooks and other online resources.
Trying to combine Dewey with a browsing system is a
challenge to ensure that resources are easy to find. A confusion of systems can
make for miss shelving and students searching for books by number when they are
Solution- Clear labelling
Some Dewey categories are not used, mainly because we hardly
ever have any books falling within the categories and it is easier to group
them with books with a user group which includes them. An example of this is
manufacturing. Usually books in this category have been ordered by the design department
and for that reason fit better in 745 or there about, rather than 620.
We try to accommodate members of teaching staff and help
them to encourage library use among their students but occasionally there is
conflict. Occasionally they consider part of the library to be their exclusive
domain and want to dictate their own system. Such situations require careful
negotiation or total chaos can ensue. One
example of this was the public services section which was scattered around 363,
whereas most of the students involved were also the main users of books on
outdoor pursuits. As a result all books connected with public services are now
automatically shelved at 796.
Some categories have been changed or simplified to reflect
the size and focus of our collections. The head of psychology had very specific
headings which she wanted represented in the shelving of psychology books. This
did not always tie up with the Dewey designations for those books but made more
sense to her students and the modules she was teaching so we compromised.
As a result of this we have developed a Library Cataloguing
Guide to clarify the system we use in our Library and help guide other staff if
they are involved in classification of stock. It is under constant review as we
spot historical inconsistencies or see ways in which it can be improved. I have
included a copy of its current form. (3)
I have also included links to two articles I found useful
and interesting when researching this. The Glade system developed at Darien
Public Library as described by Barbara Fister in the Library Journal (1) and
the news story in the Chicago Tribune (2). Both describe situations which seem
to show Dewey as out-moded, especially in a public library scenario. I work in
the world of education at a sixth form college where we have the dual pressures
of wanting to make the library accessible and easy to use whilst also
introducing students to the more rigorous demands of higher education research. For these a
familiarity with Dewey Decimal System is a necessary discipline. It is a bit of
a balancing act and requires constant monitoring of the needs and requirements
of both staff and students.
If you have any suggestions for a lively and entertaining
library induction which would be suitable for 16+ students I would be very
grateful. Also if you have any other comments on cataloguing I would also
welcome them (just please don’t send the Dewey police!)