How does your library organize the books for children? Dewey for nonfiction, alphabetical order (perhaps with some age ranging) for fiction? That seems to be the default for almost every American library that serves children, be it public or school. But does it need to be? There are some good arguments for reevaluating how you organize your materials, books for young readers in particular:
- People don't really understand library coding systems. What does that "J" stand for? What is going on with the Dewey Decimal System? Studies show that most people never really learn the way libraries traditionally organize their collections, and they instead just memorize where in the building and on the shelf they can find what they like. Too bad if the library rearranges things.
- Libraries have two types of users: seekers and browsers. Seekers will be able to find what they want no matter the organizational scheme. Browsers, on the other hand, have a very hard time finding what they want on their own when using traditional systems. Why not employ a system that promotes findability and discoverability?
- Asking kids in particular to use traditional library organizational schemes to find books is massively developmentally inappropriate. Alphabetical and numerical order are very abstract concepts to kids, and that's once we've already assumed the book-seekers in question can read. Then there's Dewey--kids don't learn decimals until the fifth grade. We're making it rather difficult for our target audience to get their hands on the books we purchase for them.
- Having books organized in a fashion that makes sense to kids facilitates the development of their own categorization skills. Figuring out how to put things in the appropriate bucket, as it were, is a key step in intellectual development.
What are your thoughts on non-traditional and homegrown organizations of kids' books?