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Arizona Library Branch Organized Like a Bookstore

The hottest story in the library world right now may be Maricopa County Arizona’s new Perry Branch, which is arranged according to BISAC Subject Headings, the same system used by bookstores (including Amazon, etc.). This has gotten a lot of attention in both the library world (lists, blogs, etc.) and beyond, including a piece on NPR called Arizona Library Shuns Dewey System. The discussion has been very interesting, with a mix of strong opinions, pro and con.

Whether our collections are organized according to Dewey, LC, or some other system, I do think most libraries need to work on ways to make it easier for users to walk in our doors and find what they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible. I think some of the frustrations with library catalogs (ours and everyone else’s) are exacerbated by the fact that people need to use these systems way too often, far more often than they need to use the computers in the more browseable bookstores.

If someone walks into your library looking for the dog books or books about the Civil War or a book of Robert Frost’s poetry or books on wallpapering or Linux or resumes or Renoir or Chinese, how do they do it? How long does this take, and how does their experience compare with doing these same tasks in the local Borders or Barnes and Noble?