Hello, Subject Savvy; goodbye, Dewey Decimal System.
For several years, Greenwood Public Library director Cheryl Dobbs and associate director Emily Ellis noticed patrons at the second-floor reference desk asking about how to find certain books.
An idea that began five years ago at a conference to replace the Dewey Decimal System at the 123-year-old library is a reality.
“This is a system that uses words instead of numbers,” Dobbs said last week. “Our patrons can understand this system and become more independent when searching for books to read.”
The Dewey Decimal System, developed in 1876 by Melvil Dewey, catalogues books with numbers 000 through 999, and has been used in libraries and in schools seemingly forever. The card catalogue remains in existence but with a computerized search at the Greenwood library.
The changeover from the Dewey Decimal System involves nearly 90,000 titles, ranging from non-fiction to fiction, adult books on the second floor, kid’s books in the children’s library and teenage books in the TeenHQ room on the first floor. DVDs and audio books will be relabeled, too.
Five years ago, Dobbs and Ellis were at a convention where word-based cataloguing systems were shown. A year later, they visited the Wells County and Kendallville public libraries that had implemented a word-catalogue system. Eventually they took staff members to those libraries and discussed ways to have a word-system.
“We didn’t replicate those systems,” Ellis said. “We knew that we had to make it work for our building and our collections. We’ve been talking about this for so long that it is great to see the progress.”
Some of the non-fiction book stacks have books labeled with the new Subject Savvy.
Patrons looking for a book about business will be able to select from sub-topics: companies, economics, leadership, marketing, sales and small business. Those looking for books about entertainment can select from: celebrities, games, magic, movies, music, theater and TV/radio.
Dobbs also emphasized that patrons will be able to browse once they find a certain topic or sub-topic which should encourage them to select more books.
Fiction books are re-labeled by the author’s last name, making it easier to begin the search. If an author’s books are part of a series, then the series and the series sequence also are labeled on the spine.
Librarians will be available to assist readers in their search.
Subject Savvy seems to be an early success.
“The feedback has been great,” Ellis said. “They are catching on quickly, so we won’t have to teach adults or kids how to use the Dewey Decimal System. It’s exactly the feedback we have expected.”
Looking at some empty bookshelves, patrons are asking, “Where are all the books?”
Those books are being re-labeled one section at a time, and Ellis expects it will take about a year to finish the project.
Dobbs also emphasized that Subject Savvy fits perfectly with the Greenwood library’s Reading Revolution program.
“We have been working hard to make sure that the people who come into our building can find a book, read, or access our services,” Dobbs said. “This fits in with our philosophy of open access for everyone, so they don’t have to struggle to find what they want.”
The library has eliminated late fees and initiated an automatic renewal system to make it easier to access books. Dobbs also emphasized that the number of books checked out by patrons in 2019 increased by 22 percent over 1018.
The library is at 310 S. Meridian Street. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Info: 317-881-1953 or www.greenwoodlibrary.us.