Dewey Do Not: Phasing out the Dewey Decimal System 

Have you ever tried to find a book for a school project? Often, your teacher might ask you to find a non-fiction book, which is a book filled only with facts, but when you look in the card catalog to find a book it might give you a long list of numbers with a decimal! How is that helpful?! Where would you begin to find that book? 

Have no fear! The Saline County Library is phasing out the Dewey decimal system. Dewey Decimal is an organization system that gives books a number, depending on their subject. For example, the 590s might be all about animals or the 800s all about poetry. If you didn’t already have that information memorized, it could be hard to find. Therefore, Saline County Library has decided to be done with Dewey, so patrons can have more ease of browsability.  

Our adult nonfiction section has forgone the Dewey Decimal system for a while now, but the newest changes have been made in our wonderful children’s departments. Not only that, but we have divided our nonfiction sections into four simple categories: Easy Reader nonfiction, which are nonfiction books that children should be able to read on their own at a kindergarten through second-grade level; Early Nonfiction, which include nonfiction books written as picture books, designed to be read by an adult to children; Juvenile (J) Nonfiction, which are nonfiction books that range from third grade through eighth grade; and finally, YA nonfiction, which is written for teens. 

Here in Youth Services, we decided to change our Dewey numbers to categories and organize our books by those categories, alphabetically. This means that instead of looking in the 590s for books about animals, you’ll pop down to the beginning of either of our sections of Children’s, Juvenile, or YA nonfiction and look for the “Animals” category. After our main heading, “Animals” you can further browse for more specific topics like “Birds” or “Dinosaurs” by just glancing at the spine’s subheading under “Animals.” Our new “call numbers” are more like “call words” now.  

Next time, when you need a book about falcons, you will be able to find your book by looking for “Animals – Birds – Falcons” on the spine of the nonfiction collection. It’s that specific and that easy. If you need a book about the periodic table of elements, you’d browse for “Education – Chemistry – Elements.” If you need a book about drawing, you could check “Hobby-Draw” and see what book may strike your fancy. We even have a “Mythology” section that includes things ranging from Greek myths to unicorns to ghosts to aliens.  

As with any changes, it takes some time to adjust, but our new categories haven’t changed too much from the Dewey decimal system. Animals, poetry, mythology, religion, games, US history, etc. Are still grouped together. We’ve just organized our categories alphabetically by subject instead of by number. This is a list of our major subheadings in the J Nonfiction, which is what we used as a basis to create the subjects for our three other nonfiction sections: Animals, Civics, Disasters, Education, Fun Facts, Food, Health, Hobby, Holiday, Mythology, Religion, Space, Sports, Technology, US, War, and World. Every nonfiction book we have fits under these main headings. Happy browsing!