Library Classifications

I think of the 3 different classification systems that were examined, I would personally use the Book Store Method of classification for various reasons (though that does not mean that it does not have its fair share of disadvantages). The Book Store Method is a form of classification used by, well, bookstores. It organizes books by major subject areas as opposed to organizing them by number or letter codes (like the DDC or the Library of Congress methods). Once a book is inside the major subject area, it is then sorted in an alphabetical order. (Singleton 2011)

Where I think the Book Store Method stands out is that it is familiar. Before Borders’ recent bankruptcy, you couldn’t drive 10 miles without running into a Borders or a Barnes and Noble. People are used to searching for a book by topic (with the help of digital databases point you to the correct section to find the book.) Yvonne Wingett (2007) states “Libraries are trying to adapt to changing times, experts said, and their success lies in a generation of young people who are more comfy at Borders than libraries.” I tend to agree. Just as our educational methods change to meet the needs of our learners, so must our methods of classification and organization. Google constantly adapts their code and algorithms so that they can improve their searching based on the needs of their users. Why not adjust our book classification system as well?

People are also used to alphabetizing. The Book Store Method uses the topics and author last name to sort books in a way that an average person will be able to easily find it. One does not need to find out what corresponding number or code goes with the book, go to the rack, have a difficult time locating the book, only to find out that you wrote the code down wrong. One can simply go to a database, search the book, find the subject area, and go to the subject area and search for the book alphabetically by author. I don’t know if anything more than that is really needed.

I also think that it succeeds in its simplicity. People in general are used to sorting, and this is a common sense way of doing so. The Book Store Method does not over-complicate anything.

I think the biggest downfall to Book Store Method is that there is currently no universally adopted classification of major subject areas. The Book Industry Study Group (2011) however, has put together a list of subject headings that can (and in my opinion should) be used universally. This would help to keep different libraries and stores on the same (prepare for pun) page; giving patrons familiarity between locations. As Matthew Singleton (2011) states, “On the part of the bookstore customer or the library patron, as well, it creates a sense of familiarity by ensuring that any library that uses Library of Congress Subject Headings or any bookstore that uses BISAC will follow certain standards and it will be easy to find the material you want within it.”

Additionally, with any book sorting method, Dewey Decimal System, Library of Congress, or the Book Store Method, if a book is out of place, good luck finding it. I think this is probably the biggest disadvantage to any non-digital database. While it might be easy to find where a book is supposed to be, if it is not there, it might as well not even be in the building. That is where digital journals and programs such as Google Books or iBooks really stand out. With a digital copy, there is no misplacing the book – and when searching for a book on a topic it is as simple as doing a web search (which we as a society have gotten pretty good at – with of course the help from the increasingly powerful search engine algorithms.) Unfortunately the digital storage of books really opens up a whole new can of ethical worms.

Wingett, Y. (2007, May 30). Gilbert library to be first to drop Dewey Decimal System. Retrieved from http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0530nodewey0530.html?&wired
Singleton, M. (2011). BISAC: In which we organize the bookshop sections. Retrieved from http://bookshopblog.com/2011/01/26/bisac-in-which-we-organize-the-bookshop-sections/
BISG. (2011). What we do. Retrieved from http://www.bisg.org/what-we-do-0-136-bisac-subject-headings-list-major-subjects.php

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