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Projects in the library

posted Mar 22, 2013, 7:47 AM by Julie Alonso   [ updated Apr 25, 2013, 10:51 AM ]
The Library will be closing early this year to pack up for our move out of the space that has been our home for all our years at Town. Since construction at Town School for Phase II of the Building for Boys project begins in June, we need to be packed up by the end of the school year. EEK! Considering the amount of books and materials we have, this task is daunting, to say the least.  

But it is also a FANTASTIC opportunity to make our library collection more accessible to our students! Our books are currently arranged according to the Dewey Decimal system. Not to knock old Dewey, but that system was designed for adult scholars in the 1800s, NOT for kids today. When students ask for a sports book, we send them to 796 on the shelf. In our new system, we'll be using words in place of numbers. If a student wants to read about sports, he'll be empowered to find that book on his own: He'll just go to the Sports section. Instead of trying to figure out where 598.2 is (forget about figuring out WHY), boys will go to Animals/Birds.

In order to come up with an effective alternative to Dewey for our boys, we have attended conference sessions hosted by libraries that have undertaken this task, conducted research, and are currently working with fellow librarian Julia Chambers from Berkwood Hedge Elementary School in Berkeley, who has similarly genre-fied her school's library collection.  We're also asking our community for input, having students help us settle questions like "Do biking books go in Sports or Transportation?" After all, ultimately, we want this system to be easy to use and make sense intuitively to our users.

So what does this mean for the Library? Well, before we pack up every single book in our collection, we're going to evaluate, re-catalog, re-sticker, and decide where it belongs next year. Phew! With all that said, we'd love to know what you think and we'd definitely LOVE your help!  

We'll be working on this project in stages: Step One is to weed our collection, which means refining it to only books that fit our selection policy. Step Two is finalizing our new cataloging schema, based on Metis, a highly adaptable word-based cataloging system designed for and by children. Step Three will involve re-cataloging books, which will then need new spine labels (Step Four) and will need to be packed in a very organized way (Step Five).

Please contact Ms. Alonso or Ms. Stuart if you'd like to help with any or all of our upcoming library projects!

You may have noticed boxes piling up in the corner of the library. As part of our book weeding project, we are trying to responsibly dispose of our old books.  We've been donating to Better World BooksSan Francisco Public Montessori, and David Kyle's Literate Planet non-profit organization.

We've surveyed the kids on how they feel when they're checking out books and how they find what they're looking for.  Through this feedback, we hope to better our services by creating better signage and more display space for books. We'll also use a "book store model" in the fiction section to pull books together in genres like fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries, animal stories, funny books, and horror.


As we develop our new cataloging system, we are asking the kids for their help. Third and Fourth grade classes have been giving us their input on what terminology we should use and where books would go if they were developing this system on their own. Our hopes are that by using their input, this system will make perfect sense to them and become easily browse-able. We are also thinking about our teachers and our school's curriculum as we design this system. If you would like to learn even more about our work in progress, click here.

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