Saturday, August 11, 2012

So We Ditched Dewey....What Comes Next For Our Books And Shelves?

Last week I wrote about how our elementary library collection is going through a major transformation.   In the post, We Spiced Up The Shelves....And Ditched The Dewey, I told all about how we have moved away from being organized by the Dewey Decimal System to a nonfiction collection organized by subjects.  
So far we have the nonfiction collection organized into 90 different subjects and subtopics.  You can see the list in the NEW Van Meter Library Nonfiction Arrangement Google Doc.  Please feel free to use and share this list.  
Once the books were arranged on the shelves with yellow sticky notes marking all of the different subjects and subtopics,  it was time to figure out how we were going to separate and mark everything.
Diana and I found these really great Book-Stops Section Markers from DEMCO.  We ordered enough for over 100 different subjects and subtopics, because we know our collection and needs will change.
I took the list that I had typed up and made the words bigger so they could be read easily on the shelves.  Diana cut all of the words out to fit onto the book-stop section markers.
We had to lower all of the shelves and put the last shelf very close to the bottom in order for the markers to work.  I really like how the shelves are lower now and all of the students will be able to see each nonfiction book within the library.
We are still trying out the placement of a few of the markers.  As you can see in the picture above, we can put the marker at the beginning of each shelf in front of the first subtopic or right after the first subtopic.  It does make the books stand up better on the shelf having the marker come after, but I just do not want to confuse the little ones.  
The next step brought a lot of BIG questions.

What were we going to do with the spine of the books? What were we going to do with the Dewey Decimal call number label?  How are we were going to mark which subtopic each book belonged to? 

Diana and I decided to cover the Dewey Decimal call number label up with a rectangular white label.
We then decided that we would mark each book two different ways....this was Diana's wonderful idea.

At the bottom of each spine, there will be a dot or set of dots that will match that on the book-stop section marker.  Do you all remember the big craze of marking library books with those little colored dots for the different AR levels?  Well, Di just happened to keep all of those tiny little dot stickers so we used those and other larger ones too.  For example, there is a tiny orange dot on all of the books about natural disasters and there is a tiny orange dot on the marker as well....right under the words "Natural Disasters."
We are also going to mark the top of each book spine with a label that contains a tiny image and words that match the category.  For example, books about airplanes will have a tiny airplane image and the word "Airplane"on the label.  I would love for the different subtopic images to match the images of the categories in Mackin VIA.  I am working with them on this part of the project.

I really love Diana's idea about marking the books in two ways.  I think this will give the little ones a really easy way to find the book category they are looking for.  It will also be nice for getting the books back on the shelf in the right location.
I just love how organized the nonfiction is now and cannot wait to show this off to our school community on Monday night at Van Meter's Back To School Night.
Diana is the best in making this happen over the summer....I couldn't do any of my job without her.

She will be finishing up the nonfiction Monday and then we will be ready to go into the fiction collection.  We had some really great conversations about this last week.  We have decided to leave the fiction together and organize it according to the different genres.

A few of the genre categories that we will have are:  Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Historical Fiction, and Sports.  These will be marked on the shelves with a large sign upon each area and also a genre label at the top of each books spine.  We will be leaving the call number label on the fiction books so they can still be alphabetical within each genre area and found easily on the shelves.

We are also going to put all of the Series together and organize the Biographies by subjects.
When I take a look around the library I think of all the changes that have taken place over the last six years.  The summer before my first year as the teacher librarian, we painted both library spaces and cleaned out things that had been there forever.  Over the last four years, we have weeded and weeded and weeded.  We have also developed the collections by adding hundreds of amazing new titles to each library.  And last spring, we even added eBooks to our collection with Mackin VIA and over 350 titles.

We have added different technology such as iPads, tablets, iTouches, iMac's, a document camera, projector, Flip cameras and digital cameras.  We have connected with hundreds of other children, teachers, and authors around the world and even added a new teacher librarian, John Schu, who happens to live over 300 miles away (John is who I plan, teach, and collaborate has definitely changed the way we both teach.)

A new shelf and drop boxes were built and fun spaces and displays were created for reading, learning, collaborating, and creating.

But most of all, the libraries changed because we all have been thinking differently over the last six years.  We think about what is important to our young people and how we can give them the most incredible experiences at school that we can.  We want them to be the best people they can be and make a difference in the their lives and the lives of others.  We are encouraged and pushed to use innovative approaches and let our students be the teachers, along with us being learners.  We look for ways to bring the world into the four walls of our school and into the library and classrooms.

Changing the collection like we are is one more example of how our young people will connect to learning, literature, and experiences like they haven't before.

And I am excited to see what a difference this will create within our library, school and the ones we care about at Van Meter.


  1. Shannon,
    I'm so happy you wrote this post! It makes things so clear. You are so detailed! Thanks so much for sharing everything with the world!

    1. Hi Joy,

      Thank you so much for the kind comments. :) I am happy that you enjoyed the post. It is fun sharing what is happening. Monday when we have the open house at Back to School Night I will post the resources I am going to use.....Going to be fun with the "Spice Up The Shelves" theme.


  2. Hi Shannon! I have a question. Will you change the call numbers on these books so that they still can be looked for in the OPAC? For example, if someone wanted to find other NF books by a certain author. Thanks! So want to do this but I still have soooooo much weeding!

    1. Hi there,

      The bar codes will stay the same...We will just do batch updates (a section or subtopic at a time) in Destiny to reflect which "Subject/Subtopic" category the book is located in. So then when someone searches "Planets", the books about Planets will come up....same record as before, just different location. Does that make sense? :)

      Find a friend or someone to come help you weed....It goes much better when you just have someone to get going with you.

      Let me know if you have other questions, Shannon

  3. I am with you on ditching the Dewey Decimal system!

    1. It is just so exciting to get rid of Dewey and move to something so much more FOR the little people. :)

      Thank you for your comment. Hope you are having a wonderful day, Shan

  4. I have wanted to ditch Dewey for a while now, but haven't been brave enough to tackle the task yet! Thank you for sharing how you made the I have a guide if I do take the plunge. My concern (and what has held me back) is that if the middle and high schools still use Dewey, will my kids be able to find what they need when they move on from elementary school...any thoughts or suggestions?

    1. Hi Rachel,

      I think you go for it! :) Because really....our kids use the catalog (Destiny or another) to search for the books that they need anyway. My kids, even though I taught them about the Dewey Decimal System since kindergarten, couldn't remember it until high school anyway. :)

      And my next step after the elementary is complete with fiction too.....The high school library. I cannot wait.

      Let me know if you need any other resources I may be using or have collected.


  5. Amazing, Wonderful, Great, Great, Great!!!!!

  6. Another thought to add to your library - have kids write book reviews and post them on the shelves where kids can find that book. By having kids write book reviews, either opinion or informative, it gives kids an audience and a purpose for writing. As a teacher, it gives you an opportunity to teach and have students practice their opinion or informative writing. (More practice of CCSS)

  7. Shannon:

    So glad you're blogging about this -- I attended one of your sessions at the recent MEMO conference and also presented at the conference on ditching Dewey. We opened up a new school in our district -- School of Engineering and Arts in the Robbinsdale District -- we also have a Dewey free library and it's been overwhelmingly positive!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this! We've recently completed our fiction section and are just now getting into our non-fiction. I've been stuck as to how I will label the books. I did use the stickers and dots on my historical non-fiction to separate them by era. I used white cardboard magazine holders that our PTA purchased at IKEA (at the time 5/$1.50). I bought enough to label my fiction and non-fiction areas. My arts and crafts books are together with cooking....we're calling it the Creation Station! Next to it are the books about art, magic, optical illusions, film and entertainment, music, etc... we're calling that Imagination Station! I'm so thankful to all of the bloggers out there that have shared their journey to help others who are willing to undertake this enormous job!! Thanks again!

  9. Hello there, I absolutely love this! I am going to be opening up a new elementary school library this school year and am really contemplating the set up. The difference will be that I will have a decentralized collection, where there will be mini collections per hub. I would love to hear any ideas on how I can organize it and still apply your concept. It will be where our bottom floor has Kinder, 1st, and 2nd grade hubs and top floor has 3rd, 4th and 5th grade hubs. Any ideas would be great! Thanks again for sharing!