[Libs-Or] BISAC

Elizabeth M. Rivera erivera at cclsd.org
Wed Jun 11 14:15:44 PDT 2014

 From Jennie Garner in Iowa, who graciously allowed me to share (I'm 
sharing on-list because I think others might be interested):

Great discussion! I’ve enjoyed reading the comments/questions and agree 
with some opinions written from each school of thought.

And isn’t that the beauty of libraries? Librarians are historically 
flexible and generally adapt for what works in their respective 
communities; we tailor our collections, services and programs to meet 
the needs/desires of our users. What works for one library may not work 
at all for a neighbor even 30 miles down the road.

The boost in circulation of our nonfiction in all age ranges has us sold 
that this system what works for North Liberty. In the first few months, 
we had a good number of ART and ARCHITECTURE books checked out that had 
never left the shelves under their Dewey numbers.

Here in North Liberty, we found that the majority of our patrons were 
requesting books by subject – “can you tell me where your True Crime 
books are?” or “where are your books on dogs?” “Parenting?” 
“Childbirth?”, “Gardening?” So it felt natural for us to migrate our 
collection to subject-based  classification rather than assigning Dewey 
numbers. We have found that using subject-based call numbers, as opposed 
to Dewey, has been an intuitive and welcome switch for the majority of 
our patrons (not all, we have had three patrons state that they didn’t 
like it but many, many more who have complimented the change).

Staff are seeing less requests now for “where is this section” and 
people simply reading our signage (our end caps list the subjects) and 
finding the material on their own quite often. We unveiled by hanging up 
large posters that told the story of the switch with actual spine label 
examples enlarged to 80 point size font. We try to ask if people have 
found what they need and explain our system if patrons don’t understand 
but it has been a very smooth and easy transition for us. There are 
always patrons who come straight to the desk no matter what title they 
are looking for because it’s quick and easy.

But even with Dewey and its subject-based cataloging, there is still 
some subjective decision-making happening for catalogers. You can go to 
our SILO online and compare several libraries in Iowa with the same 
title assigned a slightly or wholly different Dewey number and/or 
different subject headings within a record as well.

While our collection is based on BISAC, it’s also localized to our 
community. We have a section assigned WEDDINGS because we have a large 
population of young people and a lot of interest in this area. In the 
juvenile, we have DINOSAURS because it’s so popular.

It is definitely getting harder to assign genre labels to fiction as we 
see romance-fantasy crossovers, etc. We did survey our patrons a couple 
times and they resoundingly responded that they like the genre labels 
and separate categorization so we do our best to assign according to the 
descriptions and reviews.

It works for us here. When we were first discussing this change during a 
presentation about it, a librarian said that sometimes she can’t find 
what she’s searching for in the bookstore and the response from the 
presenter was: “Librarians are the only ones who can’t find things in 
Barnes & Noble.” J

Thanks for reading!

*Jennie Garner*

*Assistant Library Director*

*North Liberty Community Library*

*PO Box 320*

*North Liberty, IA 52317*

*319.626.5778 (w)*

*319.321.8056 (c)*


Please note that messages sent and received on this account may become 
public record.

Elizabeth M. Rivera
Library Assistant
Coquille Public Library
105 N Birch St
Coquille OR 97423

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