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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Addressing the "Dewey Dilemma"

My colleague received an email sent by a college professor, in which she expressed valid concerns that echoed frequently asked questions regarding the “Dewey Dilemma.” She wondered how our creation of Metis could possibly be worth the time and effort when ultimately, all we have done is created a “parallel dimension” of Dewey. 

We understand how daunting it is to think of adopting a brand new system that replaces Dewey.  Really.  We do.  But Metis is far more than Dewey “without the numbers.”

Metis is an investment: an investment of time, energy, labor, sweat and yes, sometimes tears.  But ultimately it continues to be an investment that pays off on a daily basis.

Last week for instance, a second grade teacher dashed into our library with about 45 seconds before our Kindergarten class was scheduled to arrive.  She asked, “Is this a bad time?  I need to find some books on voting.”   Before Metis, I would have suggested that she come back in 45 minutes or at the end of the day in order to not disrupt the expected class.  I no longer had to do that.  Instead, I welcomed her and simply pointed to the  “Community” section and said to look under Government.  Within minutes she returned to the checkout desk, and handed me 3 books (one fiction, two non-fiction)  exclaiming, “Wow!  It’s so organized in there.  Thank you.”

If our library collection were still arranged using The Dewey Decimal System, this quest for multiple books on voting would have taken much more time, and in all likelihood, required assistance from a librarian. This kind of independent, and successful searching for books happens every day, by teachers and students alike.  So to us, the four librarians here at Ethical Culture, the last thing Metis has been, is a waste of time. 

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