Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dewey Decimal Local

Personalization and localization of web services is an Internet trend that has been growing for several years. Why don't we take the same principle and apply it to Dewey Decimal Classification? Why don't we create Dewey Decimal Local?

"Wait!" you say. Independent thinking librarians have been playing loose with Dewey numbers for years. Former library school students, who got grades of B and C because they could not match the numbers that the cataloguing instructor wanted, have been putting books under locally appropriate call numbers for decades. What is the new idea?

Dewey is a massive scheme that takes four volumes in print. It seems to me that it would be helpful for someone (not me, I don't have the time or skill) to take an electronic version and filter it to allow local decision making. A questionnaire of preferences would let the local library personalize the scheme.

To make the scheme work best, each library would first have to identify its types of clients and rank them. This would require some polling of the community and fit into long range planning. The resulting group rankings would then direct call number selection.

What groups are borrowing library materials? If the library has more travellers than architecture students, then books on regional architecture would go in the travel section where they might be borrowed more frequently. If the library has more parents than psychology majors, materials on child development would join the parenting collection.

If a library has significant Jewish, Muslim, or other religious populations, the Dewey Decimal Local would reassign the 200s to give these groups larger ranges.

If it makes no difference (and is in fact confusing) to local readers whether a poet is American or English, the new DDL would combine them. They all write in English (usually).

Can some tech-wise librarian design a mashup to do this? Could it be called Dewey 2.0?

While someone works on this, lets all think about our local clients and how they find materials and try to set them in their paths.

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