Posted by: sharonlis768 | October 3, 2007

Thoughts on Maricopa

It’s exciting to read about experiments in library materials organization like the one at the Perry branch of the Maricopa County library system.  At least it shows that librarians are taking opportunities to explore new ways to provide better patron service.  Discarding Dewey in favor of bookstore organization seems like a user-friendly plan.  After all, customers appear to be happy when browsing in bookstores using BISAC headings in their signage. But when customers “browse” in bookstores, there is a good possibility that they will be equally happy finding any of many options available.  I can see how browsing in a small library, like the Perry branch, might work fine.  But there’s no reason why library users can’t browse in library stacks organized by Dewey numbers, especially if there is some decent signage along the way.  My biggest concern is for the times when a patron is not browsing, but looking for something specific.  I think this is when bookstore organization will fall short.  A lot of people are in a hurry.  They’re not browsing.  Organizing books with Dewey so that they can be found efficiently and utilized effectively is a more important function for libraries than trying to make collections browseable like bookstores.    

 Wow.  Looking at the online catalog for Phoenix Public Library makes me realize that since taking LIS 703 two years ago I’ve paid little attention to the debates/discussions about NextGen Catalogs.  I’m impressed with how user-friendly this catalog looks.  However, no matter how perfect we think a catalog system is, there will always be library users who need our help navigating it. 

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