Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Would You Like to GPS the Location Of This Book?

The great library crisis of the 21st century is one of relevance. Hands are wrung, shoulders are shrugged and ideas are sprung in hopes of offering patrons the tools necessary to fulfill their various information needs. Tools, one might add, many patrons are already using in their daily lives and have come to expect of their libraries and other public institutions.

And so we behold Maricopa's Dewey eviction. Out with the outmoded and in with the new? The fascinating flurry of comments found at the end of Karen Schneiders Techsource post regarding Maricopa are well worth reading--exhibiting passions about this issue that I find hard to muster. At best, I'm agnostic. At worst, indifferent. I understand and respect the history and merits of Dewey but I'm not entirely convinced of its irrevocability. If Maricopa's patrons were discouraged by Dewey and hankering for a new, friendlier classification system that encouraged and facilitated browsing--then by all means--if BISAC supports that need, fantastic. It certainly seems to, though I was especially encouraged by Maricopa's readiness to revert back to Dewey if their experiment failed.

Certainly there are some questions that need to be explored. Would this work for larger libraries? What about those patrons or reference staff who don't want to browse and want to find a specific book? Could Dewey be kept if the natural language signage was improved or expanded?

Ideally, in the end, my hope is that with all the telecom convergence activity currently underway, I'll soon be able to use my phone to access a library's catalog in addition to taking advantage of the catalogs GPS application which will conveniently lead me directly to the book I'm looking for.

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