When I traveled to my local Barnes and Noble the other day I had one goal in mind… to leave with the book Chicago Haunts: Gostlore of the Windy City. I went straight to the “New Age” section and looked for the shelves that had books about ghosts. I spent about 1o minutes going over the shelves and finding nothing. Feeling defeated, I started to walk back to the exit when I passed the Halloween display! “They must have moved it here for the season,” I thought to myself. I browsed the books on the table. Still nothing. “One more place,” I thought and moved over to the Regional section to look for the Chicago books to again walk away disappointed. I figured at this point I had wasted so much time that I might as well ask the Information Desk. The girl knew exactly where to go and took me to an entirely different section of the store labeled “Local History” where the book was sitting face out on the shelf. I left extremely frustrated, but with book in hand.
When I read the post on the ALA TechSource blog about Maricopa County Library District and Phoenix Public Library my mind immediately went back to that day in Barnes and Noble when I spent my 20 minute search mumbling to my fiance about how if this place was anything like a library I would just wander over the catalog, find out where the book is, and be out of here in 5 minutes. While the Dewey Decimal System may annoy me and I am a person who generally supports innovations in making the library more user friendly, I can’t necessarily say I am pro-BISAC in libraries. I decided I better see for myself and went into the catalog of one of the libraries. I searched for a book I had recently bought in the Music category at Barnes and Noble, Tori Amos: Piece by Piece. When I saw that the Phoenix Public Library categorized it as a biography I thought, “that’s not exactly where I would go to look for it.” So while I can see where Dewey may no longer be the most efficient way to categorize books, I think that people have kind of gotten into the habit of walking into a library and heading straight for the catalog because they know they won’t be able to find what they’re looking for any other way.