Rangeview Library District is “Breaking up with Dewey”


Under Rangeview's new WordThink system, materials are organized by simple categories instead of the old numeric system. Here you can see drawing books in the Arts & Humanities section at the Perl Mack Branch Library. They are organized under Art, then Drawing, and then alphabetically by title.


As part of Rangeview Library District’s “Customers First” philosophy, the district is replacing the 133-year-old Dewey Decimal Classification with its own WordThink system. This new method was generated from a retail-based standard for organizing materials. Similar to what you might see in a bookstore, materials are arranged by simple categories like history and science instead of the old numeric system. Customers are delighted at the ease of use of this new system, which is geared more towards browsing and helps customers find exactly what they need quickly and intuitively.

Earlier this year, Rangeview took the bold step of becoming a fine-free institution to enhance the positive experience customers feel when they come to the library. WordThink is another step in that direction. Last month, the Perl Mack branch was the first library in the district to implement the word-based system. The district’s new Bennett branch opened on Saturday, May 30, with the new organization in place. By the end of the year, all Rangeview branches will use WordThink.

Rangeview will be the first district in North America to use a word-based system in all of its libraries. Maricopa County Library District, near Phoenix, uses similar organization in two of its branches. They were the pioneers of using words instead of numbers to organize library materials, and Rangeview patterned WordThink from their system. After seeing Maricopa’s success, and the practicality of using words instead of numbers, Rangeview decided to make the switch.

A handful of other districts are experimenting with the new word-based classification, including Frankfort Public Library District in Frankfort, Ill.; Richmond Public Library in Richmond, British Columbia; and Arapahoe Library District in Colorado.

“At Rangeview, our main focus is to provide exemplary service to our customers,” says Rangeview Library District director Pam Sandlian Smith. “WordThink is just one more example of how Rangeview puts its customers first, by making our traditional library environments easier to use, resulting in friendlier experiences.”