6 Replies Latest reply: Jun 3, 2013 8:09 AM by martinls0030 RSS

"Dewey" or don't we?  Genre shelving model makes libraries more usable?

jbeninco New User
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I recently came across this article http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6703842.html?nid=2671&rid and wondered...how many are already shelving by genre rather than Dewey?


How does it work?  What challenges have you found?  What do you suggest to those that are interested?


Alternatively, if you're opposed to this method, why?

  • "Dewey" or don't we?  Genre shelving model makes libraries more usable?
    Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hi Julia,


    You have raised an interesting question.  I volunteer in a middle school library which still uses Dewey.  As an English teacher, I would not be happy seeing Dewey's demise.  In some ways, the library where I work does shelve by genre if you consider Biography, Fiction, Graphic novels, Story Collection, and Easy Readers. 


    Even though I prefer tradition, I could see the rationale for arranging Fiction books according to genre:  romance, mystery, horror, science fiction, etc., which would be similar to the organization used in bookstores.  However, I think organizing non-fiction without Dewey would be a nightmare.


    I look forward to reading more discussions about your topic.



    • "Dewey" or don't we?  Genre shelving model makes libraries more usable?
      KFIGGATT New User
      Currently Being Moderated

      I, too, prefer to use Dewey as it is the preferred organizational tool in our public libraries. Wasn't the Dewey System originally created to make sense out of chaos, creating a standard which libraries could use so patrons could find books no matter which library they used? I once came to a school library that had books shelved according to grade level, and the previous librarian did not let students choose books from any area except their own grade level. Another way I have seen books shelved is according to their Accelerated Reader Point Level. Let's cut all the confusion and stay with the standard. Books can be identified with a spine label as to their genre, making them easier for the patron to spot.



  • Re: "Dewey" or don't we?  Genre shelving model makes libraries more usable?
    lahood New User
    Currently Being Moderated

    In the past few years, I have begun shelving my fiction by genre.  Nonfiction is still shelved by Dewey.

    Students were always asking for Mysteries, or Horror, or Magic Tree House.  So I decided to make it

    a little easier for me and for them by shelving all the mysteries, etc. together.  I also purchased stickers for

    the books so that the students know which section they are browsing.  Last year, I added a tag in the OPAC

    that shows which genre the book is in.

  • Re: "Dewey" or don't we?  Genre shelving model makes libraries more usable?
    rlowry2010 New User
    Currently Being Moderated

    Right now my elementary library is shelved according to Dewey. But since I have no aide and teach 24 classes a week (I'm in the fine arts rotation) I have found myself thinking that it might help me, help my students if I shelved the fiction side of the library according to genres or at least in a series format. This is still in the wondering stage and I will probably go toward a little bit of genre and a lot more Dewey. Any suggestions for those who have a similar situation?

  • Re: "Dewey" or don't we?  Genre shelving model makes libraries more usable?
    sharonbeth New User
    Currently Being Moderated

    Julia, I just visited two libraries that are Dewey Free. Both were high school libraries and they divided the nonfiction into the same departments their high school is divided into. That's the big division and then they  divided those sections into topic. They had purchased stickers from DEMCO to label the topics. They said that their teachers loved it. Instead of a social studies teacher having to hunt all over the place for anything pertaining to the Harlem Renascence, it was all located on the shelf together. They have even shelved their DVD's and reference on the topics right there with the other materials. They said that they keep some DVD's in the back room when they know a teacher uses it every year. The other DVD's are checked out to students.

    I am considering a similar set up in my library in the near future. This year's project is arranging fiction by genre.

  • Re: "Dewey" or don't we?  Genre shelving model makes libraries more usable?
    martinls0030 New User
    Currently Being Moderated

    The bottom line is that no matter how the library is arranged, the cataloging needs to reflect that. I have been in lots of libraries were series by various authors are shelved together, but the catalog indicates they are shelved according to author.


    In some ways I agree with Karen.  The Dewey system has proven very useful for many years, accommodating topics that did not exist when Dewey lived,  One has to respect the flexibility of the system!


    On the other hand, genre shelving is convenient for the patron.  It is also a good marketing tool to highlight different parts of the collection that may not receive attention.Sometimes, however, students will pigeon-hole themselves in one genre. 


    Recently I began shelving high-use items in plastic boxes on the shelves were the Dewey number would indicate.  For example, CATS are still with the 636s, and PLANETS are still in the 523s.  I think putting this books in bins will help the kids locate them, and it will also simplify and speed up shelving.

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