[Library Media] Library girl - this guy's perspective

Joseph Nielsen Joseph.Nielsen at slcschools.org
Thu Dec 19 15:06:43 MST 2013

It is entirely possible that the posting of this article came at a bad time for people to respond. I know I am having brain overload and working on mega doses of caffeine right now. (Ever tried putting a chunk of baking cocoa on your mouth and using Jolt Cola to slowly melt it? That will make you wired higher than Calvin & Hobbes.) So don't get too bent out of shape when the replies slowly trickle in.

And I agree with Marianne Bates, if your Principal doesn't have a clue about what you do, you have no one to blame but yourself (unless your administrator is just totally clueless).

But I'm not so sure that I see huge value in abandoning Dewey. Having worked in one of Utah's largest independent retail bookstores for 8 years before becoming a librarian, I can tell you that genres are very arbitrary, can be very difficult to assign, and sometimes so large as to be overwhelming. Take, for instance, one of my favorite books to read to 5th graders who are studying American History, "Mountain Man, the story of Hugh Glass." It is written as fiction, but his experience and all the principle events described in the book are firmly established as historical facts. It's the details that were created to tell the story. So do you classify it as Historical, Biographical, or Western? Do you use Explorers, Mountain Men, or US  History? And since it does tell the story of an historical event - do you perhaps even put it in Non-fiction, as I have seen some catalogs do? Any one of those classifications could be overwhelming in size.

The whole idea of Dewey is to be genre oriented, Mammals have their place, Weather has its place, Fairy tales, and Myths are separated between the 200's and the 300's. If you are worried about whether a book is in the right place you can decide for yourself how you want to align the classification of Dewey to fit your library and your readers. There is no governing body that is going to come to your library and condemn, or down grade it just because you chose to put the book about the movie Dinosaur under 781 instead of 567 where the CIP put it. Make your own choices and decide these things for yourself.

And all this comes with the added bonus of helping students learn to use decimals.

Joseph R. Nielsen
Library Technology Teacher
Hawthorne Elementary
Salt Lake City School District

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