Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sacred cows

Michael from LibraryCrunch has an interesting editorial on two sacred library cows, Dewey Decimal and Spine labels.

I have always thought that we junk up the covers and spines of our books too much. At my library some paperbacks have more than half the spine covered with the label. Grrr. At least we're not pasting the gawd-awful blank strips for due date stamping anymore, but I grumble to myself everytime I see gorgeous or minimalist cover art with a barcode right over the title or artwork.

I have hopes that processing costs and new security technologies will result someday in fewer of these intrusive labels on covers or spines. When I worked for Borders they had their location/barcode labels pasted right over the printed barcode on the back; I thought that was an elegant solution.

I am less sure that Michael's how-to-do-away-with-Dewey idea would work (too simplistic for even a medium-sized collection), but I definitely have a love-hate relationship with the Dewey Decimal System. Particularly with the way it handles folklore. How much more useful would it be to have them arranged by the originating culture! I believe Dewey arranges then according to whether or not there are animals in the story, which is useless to anyone browsing the collection. He is right that it can be a straightjacket to marketing your collection.
Library Crunch: Spine Labels and De-Dewefication

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