I like to think of myself as someone who is an agent of change. One who likes change. Change, you see, is the future and we we are not forward looking we are dooming ourselves to being left behind. The thing is that, well … I guess I’m a fraud. Christopher Harris over at the Digital Shift blog recently posted a really amazing piece– The End of Non-Fiction: Common Core Standards Force us to Rethink Categorization. I have to say, GEEZ!!! It pretty much threw me for a loop!!! At its most basic, Harris’s main premise is that,
“… it’s the Common Core standards that should be driving collection development in the school library, and CC requirements extend well beyond fiction, nonfiction, and reference.”
Harris’s piece made me realize how deeply embedded my ideas about cataloging and classification are and how thoroughly my professional world view is colored by those paradigms. Dead tree print books to ebooks is a transition and change that I don’t think we as a society are quite ready to make completely just yet, but at least I can see a path forward from print to electron. The traditional classroom to a blended learning environment is a transition that I think will be challenging, but again, I think that I am able to see a path forward from a traditional classroom to a blended one. When I am asked to rethink my beloved Dewey, however … well … that is something that makes me take a step back, take a few long deep breaths, and makes me just not want to think about it.
I suspect, that part of the thought paralysis comes from the fact that as a librarian, I don’t think I ever considered the need to examine the usefulness of the cataloging and classification schemes to which I was being introduced. Academic libraries were usually Library of Congress Classification-based and school libraries were Dewey-based. It served us well for a long time and all was good in the information world.
Now it’s all changing. I look around and take note of the reference sources in in our lovely reference room that cannot be replaced in dead-tree format because they are no longer available in print–ebook or out-of-date are our choices. I look around and take note of our beautifully organized non-fiction section shelved in a set of bays running down the South side of our building and realize that a good many, a majority perhaps, of the artifacts a haven’t been used in years. I look around and take note of the periodical shelves displaying dead-tree copies of the multitude of wonderful magazines we subscribe to and notice that most have spines that are unmarred by use … Mad, People, Motor Trend, Teen Vogue, Sports Illustrated, Surfers’ Journal, and Mental Floss, though, still look worse for the wear they’ve endured.
I know that rethinking classification, cataloging, and categorization is an idea whose time has come. I just need some time to digest the idea.
And maybe mourn a little …