This Albany Times Union interview with a local librarian named Lauren Cardinal has a very interesting aside:
Pine Hills just went back to the Dewey Decimal System; how do you feel about it?
I’m not sure who was happier—the staff or the patrons! The branches had been using a “bookstore model” for a few years, where books are more loosely arranged by topic, not by the official Dewey numbers and categories. The theory was that it would make browsing easier, and perhaps it did, but it made finding a specific book much harder. Dewey is a quicker and more logical way of locating items—and we have had nothing but positive responses all around.
I had no idea that some libraries were going to a bookstore model. This seems like one of those ideas that some PR person unacquainted with libraries would introduce as a way to make libraries more "relevant" somehow. The Dewey Decimal system is a very useful tool because it makes finding books dead-simple. When the library is laid out well — the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library is pretty wonderful for this — the greater pattern of Dewey becomes apparent to browsers. If anything, I'd want bookstores to adopt the Dewey Decimal system, not the other way around.
This is just another reminder that people are trying to screw up our libraries, and it is the general public's duty to make sure that they don't succeed.
(Via Jessamyn West on Twitter.)