LC vs. Dewey?

Question for academic librarians: As a reference and instruction librarian, do you prefer the LC or Dewey classification systems? I mean this specifically from the student perspective: do you find that one or the other is easier for students to understand?

For most of my time working in libraries, I worked in libraries that used LC, but I’m now working for the first time in an academic library that uses Dewey. And my entirely unscientific, anecdotal sense is that students find Dewey easier to understand. It just seems to me to make more sense to them (I wonder if the explanation for this is that the fact that most letters don’t correspond to the actual letters of the subjects in LC (e.g., P isn’t Philosophy is kind of weird to students and Dewey doesn’t have to overcome that).

Thoughts based on your experience?




Filed under Library Instruction, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game

4 responses to “LC vs. Dewey?

  1. Stephanie

    I’ve worked in academic libraries, and I agree with you that Dewey seems to be easier for students. In fact, I helped a student find a book this week and she said if it’d been Dewey, she could have found it without help. I do think that a lot of school libraries and public libraries use Dewey, so younger people could be more familiar with it to begin with. However, as a cataloger, I know Dewey can only stretch so far, and that’s why I think LC is better for larger collections.

  2. Heather

    My students prefer Dewey (univ library) because they not only find the book they were looking for, but can browse and find many books in that section that they didn’t think to search for. Often the intersection of books in Dewey allows them to come up with new directions for their research.

    • Kevin Michael Klipfel

      Hi Heather,

      Thanks for your feedback; it’s interesting to me to hear students’ preferences on this.

      I’m wondering about your reasoning, though: Doesn’t LC allow them to do that as well?

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