Shelter Island library scraps Dewey system

Shelter Island poet Hilary King reads from her

Shelter Island poet Hilary King reads from her recent book, "Love & Other Poems," at the Shelter Island Library. (May 7, 2011) (Credit: Newsday, 2011 / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

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When Shelter Island's newly renovated public library holds its grand opening on Saturday, town residents will quickly notice that more has changed than the shelves, the computer station, the new patio and even the elevator.

What has changed the most is the location of the nonfiction books. The library has abandoned the Dewey decimal system, the code most of the country's libraries use to identify where on the shelves a particular book can be found.

For decades, books on World War I, Italian cooking, Albania, movies, sculpture, lacrosse and jet planes have all been put in the same classification in libraries, following the rules developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876.

Instead, the library is clustering its 11,000 nonfiction books in well-defined categories such as history and comedy, using the 10 categories in the BISAC system used in bookstores nationwide.

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