I am writing in regard to Christopher Harris’s recent article, “Summer Project: Kill Dewey” (Aug. 2012). I’m all for making a school library more user-friendly, but why recreate the wheel? A few colorful shelf labels and directional signs would have saved him and Kristie Miller a lot of time and trouble.
Dewey is a system of subjects, so when students are taught how a library is organized, they will quickly see that all the books about a like subject are shelved together. If they can’t find the exact book on mythology they are looking for, a quick scan of the Dewey organized shelf of mythology books will provide many alternatives. Splitting mythology and other subjects up and putting them into fiction now puts like materials across many shelves, making it much harder to find similar subject matter (assuming they are now filed by the author). I’m sure that every person shelving books in an elementary school library puts all the dinosaur books together rather than filing them in strict Dewey order—same for sharks, cars, trucks, etc. For insects and wild animals it makes sense to file these single subject titles alphabetically but within their Dewey order.
I think teaching children that once they learn how to use a library they can go to any library anywhere in the world and find what they want is more empowering than breaking up a system that works!
Former Elementary School Librarian
Want kids to read?
Jonathan Kozol’s feature article, “The Other America: Giving Our Poorest Children the Same Opportunities as Our Richest” (August 2012), made my entire summer! Leave it to the eloquent Kozol to broadcast what we librarians have been saying forever. Want kids to read? Give them great books, a fabulous librarian (yep–you!), and a budget to make their libraries into palaces of literature. Reading lamps, even. Hey, we library folk decorate like crazy, usually with gorgeous books on display everywhere and puppets, toys, and bibelots (slightly used, sometimes cracked, but always eye-catching) on every shelf. As my librarian mom used to say, “We’re doing the best we can.” And how many of you have spent a mini fortune on stuff for your libraries this year? Most of you, I’m betting.
Reading about Baltimore’s $5 million for school libraries and now Kozol’s love poem to librarians everywhere, my library gloom has dispersed (at least until the euphoria lifts and another 100 librarians get summarily canned somewhere). From Kozol’s lips to every administrator’s brain. Send a copy of this to every principal, superintendent, and school board member today!
Children’s Literature Consultant
Highland Park, NJ
It’s felt like Christmas all July, and it’s truly thanks to School Library Journal. Your review of my new CD, Princess Revolution! (July 2012), made such an impact on librarians, that Midwest Book and Tape has been ordering hundreds of copies each week. And it has been the #8 best-selling CD this month on CDBaby. Your review also rekindled interest from librarians in my debut CD, Moey’s Music Party. I was thrilled when SLJ gave my 2011 fairytale CD/DVD set, Happily Ever Moey! A Fairy Tale Lark in Central Park, a starred review. No other publication makes such a direct impact on CD sales.
Thank you for your thoughtful reviews and for being such a terrific advocate for all independent children’s songwriters, videographers, illustrators, and writers.
Moey’s Music Party
It was very reassuring to read Rebecca Miller’s editorial, “First, Last, in the Middle: The perils of one-dimensional rankings” (July 2012). I’m entering my second year as a school library media specialist and I had read the Forbes article which ranked our degrees so negatively. It scared me. It took me ten thoughtful years to decide on the library profession and, being a homeowner and a mother, I had wondered if I’d made the wrong decision for my family’s financial future. However, we too often forget to think of our happiness when we choose a career. It’s so much more important than people want to admit. Being a librarian feeds my family AND my soul. Thanks for the research-backed reminder.
Library Media Specialist
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