Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Shelves are Categorized.

Today was a very productive day, working in the library. I was given lot of help by my wife and son, who were kind enough to come in and give me a few hours of their time. When we were done working, all of the books were properly back on the shelves in their new category sections.

The Shelves used to be in a U shape around the room

So, not only is the system new, but the room arraignment has changed.  

My Shelving sections for the Facili System are as follows:

Favorite Choices (containing the Unexplained, and Graphic Novels)

Sports and Activities (including Drawing, Arts and Crafts and Magic)

Jobs, Transportation and Inventions

The Arts (and writers)


Tales (Tall, Fairy, Myths)

People and Places

U.S. History

World History

Holidays and Cooking & Food

Science and Math

Human Body


Plants and Farming



Now that the books are on the shelves, I have to put shelf labels on them, and organize the categories. As that work will start in the next few days, I am continuing to change all the call numbers in the Card Catalog.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Good Bye Dewey, I have A Name for The New System

I spent three hours or so today working in the library. I know a Teacher/Librarian working in a library doesn't sound that exciting, but It was actually a big thing, for me. I started the process of shelving the books in the new categorization system that I am using instead of Dewey.

For those new to the blog, I have decided to do away with the Dewey Decimal System in my K-5 Elementary School Library. You can read the other posts for my reasons why. After many hours of changing call numbers, I finally got to move the books to their new shelves today.Although it started out slowly, I am very excited about the way the system is going to work. As you walk into the Library, the room flows from category to category now. From the front of the Library back it actually follows a logical order as the subjects move from one to another.

As I was working today, I started thinking about the new system. The wonderful Librarians at The Ethical Culture Fieldston School, who ditched the Dewey Decimal system at their school (and have been very helpful in answering my questions as I got started) named their system Metis. On their website they say, "We have named the system in honor of the crafty Titan who is the mother of Athena and the eternal source of good advice for Zeus." That is a pretty neat idea. So, I thought I should come up with a name for my system also, since it doesn't quite follow the Metis model or the BISAC Standards.

Now I am not a very vain person, So I couldn't go Dewey-like and name it after myself, and I am not sure my library will ever be a place of the Gods, so I couldn't go with a Mythological name, besides my favorite Greek God since my college days when I first learned of him is Dionysus (the God of Wine and Fertility) and I don't think that is an appropriate name for an elementary library system name.

So, I thought about other options. I am a big Disney fan and am inspired by innovators, like the Disney Imagineers. Lately, I have been reading and listen to some very talented people who have done research on innovation and creativity and I wanted the system to reflect that idea, that it is new and different in the sense that it is innovative for a school Library to Ditch Dewey. The more I thought and looked into words that portrayed this idea, The further I got form why I was doing this. Why I was scrapping Dewey. I am doing it to make it easier on my students and staff and also on myself. It isn't for innovation for innovations sake, it's for ease of use and hopefully a more enjoyable Library experience. So, I have decided on a name, I think best describes the new system; as it means what it is and what using it should be. I have named my new Library System the Facili System (pronounced Fah-Chili).

Please continue to follow along as write about how my work in the Facili System proceeds.

For More information on Metis, check out their website here.
For those of you who have not googled Facili yet, It is the Latin word for Easy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Work has started...

I had been working earlier this week to group my non-fiction books into the categories that I am thinking about using for the new sections in my library. As I have moved along this week, I encountered a  dilemma when I was working towards Ditching Dewey. I had a moment (okay, actually a day or so) where I found that I worried about whether I should actually do away with my Dewey Decimal System. 

My reasons for changing my library include the students ease of use and to have the students check out and be able to find more materials. But as I was working through the 500 section of my shelves, I was having my doubts. They first started when I was working with the animals. I have decided to divide my animal books into two sections, Land and Water. As I was going through the many, many animal books, I was wondering if this was really necessary. I mean except for pets, all the animals are organized right there in the 500s. SO, why am I re-doing all of my sections? I finished dividing the animals and logging them into the computer (so I can change their call numbers) and pondered this thought for the next day and a half. 

Luckily, Friday night, I was at a retirement dinner and had the chance to discuss my worries with my friend and school's Reading Specialist who not only is a great supporter of my library program, but also has a very good understanding of children's literature and what they like to read. She reminded me why I was Ditching Dewey, and the quick two minute discussion we had reaffirmed my commitment to the new system. 

So, today I started back to my reorganization. I worked through the rest of the 500s and all the way through the lower numbers. I ended up adding a section to the shelving system; Jobs. I did come across a group of books that I don't know what to do with, I will research different categories and see where they might go, but for now they are in a pile on one of my shelves (luckily school is now closed for the summer and I have a few months to do all this work). I did come across a problem as I was working today. one of my sections is going to be "Tales". This section will include, Fairy, Tall and Folk 
Tales as well as Legends, Myths and Fables. My problem was that as I separated the books into these sub categories,  I found that I had so many Folk Tale books that I thought I should weed them. As I started looking to weed them, I couldn't decide which ones to get rid of. Many of them are newer and others that relate to our curriculum, that I didn't know what to do. My decision was to go on to another section and come back to this weeding thought later. My final decision on them was to just have a larger "Tales" section than I was planning and to keep most of the books.

At the end of the day, I had completed categorizing most of the non-fiction books that I have and I am getting ready to go after the Biographies, which I am going to shelve along side the non-fiction books in the new sections. 

Of course now that Summer Vacation has started, I will not be working everyday. My next day in the Library will be after the 4th of July, but I will be working on changing my call numbers for the card catalog and checkout system, as I can do that from home. 

Please keep following along as I chronicle my work away from Dewey. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Moving Away From Dewey

As I move away from Dewey, the first thought I encountered was how do I separate my sections? Many people have argued, Dewey has its problems, but if you go away from it, isn't your new system going to have problems also? And if so, then why bother? I'm sure my new categorizing will have its share of complications, for example when I first started thinking about my sections I wondered where books about Pirates or Medieval times would go. (I have since decided that both of these will go into my World History section.)

For my new system, I have decided to use a modified version of the BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) Headings, which according to the Book Industry Study Group website is used by "Many of the major businesses within the North American book industry"; In other words, these are the same headings that Amazon and Barnes & Noble use. In deciding to use these headings, I thought about how best to make it easy for my students to find materials, that would make sense to them.

The following list contains the section headings I plan on using.


Other possible headings are:


I'm being realistic in that, I'm thinking I may find that I need to modify my headings as I get into this endeavor, if that happens, I will update my list here also. I will also keep you informed of any other things that arise as I move ahead with this project.  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ditching Dewey

 My fifth graders use the card catalog every week, they always find the book they want on the catalog and then ask me where they can actually find the book. They know how the Dewey Decimal System works, they know it is in numerical order, but every week, they have to ask where to find things. I have taught them how to use Dewey, labeled the high interest shelves and used increased signage to help, but to no avail.

So, I am going to shake things up; change the look and feel of my library, by organizing the shelves using a categorizing system based on the BISAC Subject Headings. Yes, I'm going to DITCH DEWEY. I got the idea reading about METIS, which I found at Brief Book Bytes.

It's not that  I don't like structure, as a teacher/librarian, I like being able to shelve things in an easy manner, it is just that I think that Dewey is outdated and the children don't really need it or use it. I honestly don't think most of the adults in my school use it either. They come in and ask where things can be found, the same as the children.

I have spent a lot of time reading both sides of the argument for 'Ditching Dewey' and everyone keeps using the phrase, "Librarians search and students browse", but I don't think that is completely true. I think students don't search, because they don't understand the system; even when taught, the whole decimal thing throws them off. I usually start teaching Dewey by talking and teaching about decimals. Students can understand the concept in 3rd and 4th grade, they can organize a pile of books without a problem, but using the system to find books confuses them once they go to the shelves. I believe, if the shelves were organized so that they could relate to them, it would make searching easier.

Thus, No more Dewey.

In my research about getting rid of Dewey, I also read, "Anythink’s WordThink: A Revolutionary Organizational System" and understand why they have more books circulating and more patrons using the library; it is easier for the patrons to use a BISAC approach and less intimidating, whether searching or browsing.

Anythink calls their system WordThink, the group in New York calls theirs METIS after "the Greek goddess of wisdom and deep thought". I have no idea what I am going to call my system (which is going to be a kind of mix of both of these systems), I'm more worried about making it work and figuring out how to do it.

So, over the next couple weeks and months, I will be sharing with you my journey from Dewey to my new system. I haven't even really started yet, and already I am thinking about the process in my sleep. I don't know if that is a good sign or a bad one, but only time will tell.

As the Garth Brooks song says:
sometimes you just can't be afraid 
To wear a different hat 
If Columbus had complied 
This old world might still be flat 
Nothin' ventured, nothin' gained 
sometimes you've got to go against the grain.

I guess we'll see if I sink or swim...