Saturday, April 6, 2013

Making Dewey work FOR me, Part I

The sorting stage
The 398.2 section is one of my favorites but it's not as browse-able as I'd like. 

Children looking for "Snow White" can find it in various places depending on whether it's a Grimm version or not. Designated numbers are not consistent (Some legends are 398.2, some are 398.25), and the variety of tales is enough to warrant sub-genres for easier finding.

Like everything, I'm just plunging in and hoping that a system that makes sense to me will make sense to others. I have a new colleague taking over in the elementary library next year. I hope she's keen to tinker with Dewey, too, and make it work FOR us, rather than causing confusion.

These are the kinds of changes that can work in a relatively small collection. We have 25,000 books. It serves over 400 students. It's large for a school library but not huge in the scheme of things. We don't have more than a half shelf of King Arthur tales, for example, so finding the exact King Arthur book needed from a half shelf all labeled the same thing is not a big deal. The whole traditional literature section is big enough, however, for those King Arthur books to get totally lost in the section if they are organized by author.

Other sections like this? Poetry and Animals. Stay tuned!
Fairy Tales

Traditional Literature

398.2 = Fairy Tales
398.21 = Folk Tales
398.22 = Tricksters
398.23 = Tall Tales
398.24 = Fables
398.25 = Legends
398.26 = Mythology (not Greek)
398.8 = Nursery Rhymes

Some details: Each section will have a SIGN since many of the books are skinny and don't easily show more than one number after the decimal point.

Anthologies in each section are labeled "ANT".

For example:
398.2 ANT = Fairy tale anthology
398.27 ANT = Nursery Rhyme anthology

Fairy Tales
Classic Fairy Tales are grouped by author or "founding author".

For example, "Anderson - AND" or "Grimm - GRI" or Perrault - PER"
They are further divided by title. 
For example: 398.2 GRI SNO = Fairy tale / Grimm brothers / Snow White.

Folk Tales are grouped by region, then by author OR by country. 
For example:
398.21 NA BRU = Folk Tale / Native American / Bruchac
OR, since we have lots of Chinese folk tales, 398.21 ASI CHI.

ASI - Asia
AFR - Africa
EUR - European (RUS for Russian etc.)
NA - Native American
NOR - North American (but not Native American)
OCE - Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific)
SOU - South America (including Central America)

398.22 Tricksters are grouped by character. Some trickster tales, particularly the Native American ones, ended up in the Folk Tale section because I wanted them to stay together by region.
For example:
398.22 ANA = Trickster / Anansi
398.22 BRE = Trickster / Brer Rabbit

398.23 Tall Tales are grouped by character.
For example
398.23 ANT = Tall Tale / anthology
398.23 BUN = Tall Tale / John Bunyan
398.23 HEN = Tall Tale / John Henry

Fables are grouped by original author, then title. I dropped the "ANT" for anthology in this section to keep them all at the front.
For example:
398.24 AES = Fables / Aesop
398.24 AES ANT = Fable / Aesop / Ant and Grasshopper
398.24 AES LIO = Fable / Aesop / Lion and the Mouse

Legends are grouped by character or setting 
For example
398.25 CAM = Legend / Camelot which includes King Arthur, Lancelot, Excalibur and such.
398.25 ROB = Legend / Robin Hood
398.25 WIL = Legend / William Tell

398.26 Mythology is grouped by region. (Greek myths have their own section in the 292s.)
For example:
398.25 NOR = Mythology / Norse.

398.27 Nursery Rhymes are grouped by author (counting "Mother Goose" as an author) then by title. Most in this section are anthologies.
For example:
398.27 GOO ANT = Nursery Rhyme / Mother Goose / Anthology
398.27 GOO HEY = Nursery Rhyme / Mother Goose / Hey Diddle Diddle

NOTE: This project is in process, so there will be tinkering along the way. I will post a Part 2 when it's done. Comments welcome!


  1. Good for you. Don't be afraid to change Dewey to fit the needs of your students.

  2. As you already know, I LOVE Dewey and I have gotten my second graders to love Dewey as well. That being said, I tinker too. This year I put all the related fairy tales together (Cinderella, Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood) because teachers and students are often looking for different versions of the same tale, and as you said, they are scattered due to different authors. Thanks for your post! Always interesting to see what others are DEW-ing.

  3. It sounds like it will be much easier for you and your students to access. Mine were organized like this when I arrived at my library--or in a similar way, but none of the call numbers reflected the previous librarian's choices. It was a nightmare for me to shelve because I wasn't as familiar with some of the titles. I think if you rearrange like this then you need to have the spine labels and catalog match the shelving system. Good for you for thinking it out and doing it the right way!

  4. Slight problem. Anderson wrote his stories. Grimm just collected stories and compiled them, hence not the author

    1. Yes, Anonymous, you are right! I just need a way to keep them together though. Instead of calling it "Original Author" maybe "Author or Founding Author" would work?
      Thanks for your comment and close reading of the post. I am eager for feedback on this.