[Libs-Or] BISAC

Ted Smith t.smith at newportlibrary.org
Wed Jun 11 15:18:59 PDT 2014

I'll show my ignorance: we pull holds every morning and I wonder if items are shelved with enough specificity to find them without looking through every item in a subject category.

From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Elizabeth M. Rivera
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 2:43 PM
To: 'libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us'
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] BISAC

And from Dee Crowner, now retired (with picture!):
Yes, Dewey does group by subject but what I like about subject based is the fact that all on one subject is in one place and not scattered in the 970's,  300's and probably other place throughout the collection which would be one reason for not putting BISAC or your own subjects on the end panels.  The same basic subjects could be in several different places.   Patrons like it because it is  more visual and friendly than Dewey numbers for them.  Also, people use bookstores a lot and are used this type of categorization.   Redoing all the labels wasn't necessary.  We could have done just the non-fiction but it was a staff decision to do all the material to have the entire collection labeled/looking the "same" for the ease of our patrons.  Converting to subject based took us around two years, a lot of time and energy, mulling over and deciding where to put material but it was so worth it in the end.  If large libraries like AnyThink and Maricopa can do it we all can if that is what you want.  It does take a lot of preparation up front and probably convincing some staff and maybe even downright nagging to get them started but in the end it all worked out great both for both staff and patrons for us.

Dee Crowner
Library Director
North Liberty Community Library

Elizabeth M. Rivera

Library Assistant

Coquille Public Library

105 N Birch St

Coquille OR 97423

On 06/11/2014 02:15 PM, Elizabeth M. Rivera wrote:
>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." :)

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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