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Pittsfield Branch closing for Renovations 9/23

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 8:02am by eli

We're continuing a year of branch upgrades with some updates for the Pittsfield Branch Library. The branch will close at 6 PM on Sunday, September 22, for 6-8 weeks of work.

The updated Pittsfield branch will have three new bookable meeting rooms, including a large 35-person meeting room with screen for presentations. Also there will be new public computers and kids game computers, and the book collection will be converted to categories.

During the closure, any requests with a Pittsfield pickup point, or Pittsfield Summer Game Shop Orders, will be held at Westgate Branch. If you'd like your items ready for pickup sent to another branch, you can change the pickup location on your My Account page before it's ready, or just contact us when your items are ready and we can send them along for you.

You can still return items to the outdoor dropbox at Pittsfield Branch throughout the closure, but the pickup lockers won't be available until the branch reopens.

Thank you for your patience through these closures, and thank you for using your library!




I know you don't care one teeny tiny bit, but I hate that you are going to rearrange the collection at Pittsfield. When I'm at Westgate I don't even bother looking at anything but the "new books." It's way too hard to find anything.

We absolutely care about patrons finding things, and we're very sorry to hear you've found it too hard to browse the collection at Westgate. While you wouldn't guess it from reading internet comments, we actually hear much more positive feedback about this change than negative, and patrons reporting that they found new things to read that they wouldn't have known about. Checkouts at Malletts Creek have significantly increased since the collection was recategorized. Please don't hesitate to request what you're looking for and the staff can pull it for you, and thank you for using your library!

I find Westgates system VERY hard to use and don't care for it at all. I can't find anything myself, I always have to ask and don't understand why they strayed from the standard dewey decimal system which is universal. I sincerely hope Pittsfield branch isn't moving to that system!!!

Books in a series should be together. If you come across this, please let the staff know so the items can be relabeled. Series data is complicated, so thanks for helping us get things in the right place!

I left westgate for pittsfield for this very reason. Series book aren't together and, even with staff help, books are unlocatable. Trendy doesn't always mean better. I love our library system and think that, by making it harder for people, more will turn away from reading, leaving us with less in the end.

When library staff say on record (reply to 11/17/15 comment, see ) that the library will not have a “sudden elimination of the Dewey System,” it is fascinating to see that this is exactly what has happened.

At any rate, not everyone feels it is appropriate to confront library circulation staff about administrative decisions they likely had nothing to do with.

Given the reaction I received when I submitted a one sentence, neutrally worded suggestion about a dirty bathroom sink, which included a dig at me for having “a keen interest in the AADL's operations,” I certainly wouldn’t want to expend too much time expressing anything even slightly negative about AADL, because it is obvious that my opinions will be dismissed out of hand. I have better things to do!

I'm very happy to hear about the new meeting rooms and computers!

However, I am not happy to hear about the introduction of the verbal organization system to yet another branch.

Some of the categories are either very vague or way too specific, especially those in fiction. In addition to Fiction / General, there are Fiction / Science Fiction / General and Fiction / Romance / General, and probably other similar categories. How can you guess which category something is in, especially when there are some like "Adult Book / Fiction / Science Fiction / General / Future Fiction"? How are you supposed to remember something like that? Even the "general" categories have subcategories. It's much easier to just remember the author's name. A complete list of all of the categories would be very helpful.

If there are certain topics that you read a lot about, you can easily learn the Dewey numbers for them, and then you will be able to find related books in most other libraries! With the verbal system, you have to memorize a long and repetitive list of words. The only realistic option is just to remember what part of the library/which shelf has the relevant books. However, that only works in one library branch.

I would also like to point out that one cannot search the catalog if the search contains a "/". Doing so results in an error that says "The requested page could not be found." Quotation marks seem to fix the problem, but that's not necessarily well-known.

What do you do after receiving a suggestion from a user? Do you actually consider it, or do you just acknowledge it and say that you appreciate the feedback?

I strongly agree with these comments. I can't stand the Category system. Pittsfield was my go-to branch where I could actually find the book I was looking for. I am disheartened to hear it will be changing.

Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I have really enjoyed using the category system at Westgate, and I'm excited that it's coming to Pittsfield also. Many times, I come to the library looking for ideas on something new to read, and the category system helps me narrow down my options and increases the chances of me stumbling upon a good book I had not heard of before. My kid loves it too. We like having smart librarians who can help us curate our book choices.

The Dewey Decimal system is based on categories, many of which are listed on the shelves. If you are looking for nonfiction books about a specific topic, all of the related books are in the same place. If you are looking for fiction, books are arranged by author. Here is a list of the 10 main categories in the Dewey Decimal system:

000 – Computer science, information & general works
100 – Philosophy & psychology
200 – Religion
300 – Social sciences
400 – Language
500 – Pure Science
600 – Technology
700 – Arts & recreation
800 – Literature
900 – History & geography

The verbal categories are not nearly as specific as 516.375 referring to Finsler geometry (example from Wikipedia).

You can see at that a lot of the library staff are not actually librarians.

It seems to me that one of the goals of the new system is to render DDC categories into natural language, thereby eliminating the barrier to entry that requires users to be familiar with the code. Yes, the numbers make sense when you've been using them for decades, but natural language is far more accessible to a larger number of potential library users. Moreover, the new system is more flexible and eliminates historic inequities and assumptions baked into DDC (such as its treatment of non-Christian religions). DDC does offer opportunities for incredible specificity, but a public library's collecting scope is generally broad enough that such minute distinctions between types of geometry won't be as critical as they would in, say, the University's library; my guess is that most AADL visitors will be able to find what they need within "Math > Geometry", and that users will be more quickly drawn to a category like "History > Michigan > Ann Arbor" than to "997.435." And DDC itself is prone to its own arbitrary decisions, as I learned the other day while looking for books about pregnancy and parenting (separated by several shelves at the Main Library, next to one another at Westgate). Personally, I have my quibbles with some of the specific categorical decisions within the new system, especially regarding fiction and musical genres, but the reality of shelving is that a physical item can only be in one location at a given time. I think the new system is more widely accessible to public library visitors, it is easier to update as readers' interests change and new fields of study emerge (computers weren't a part of DDC at its inception in 1876, after all) and I've personally found it much easier to locate materials in the updated branches despite having been intimately familiar with DDC since early elementary school.

I'll also note that the longstanding problems with DDC, LC classification, and similar systems is a hot topic in library school and official and unofficial professional discussion forums; employment classifications don't seem to me to have much to do with this particular decision.

I also think the category system is ridiculous. I browsed the kids books at malletts creek and many of the books I looked at could have fit into many different categories. Why the chosen category was picked seemed very arbitrary. Either that or the category picked was such a stretch that it was laughable.

Isn't the Pittsfield Library now a Voting location? Seems like the library will have to be open on November 5 (6 weeks and 1 day from September 23). ... unless someone forgot that the library is a Voting location and that the first Tuesday in November is voting day!

No worries, we are still planning to host the polling place on election day. The library may not yet have reopened for business, but the front doors will be open to allow voters and poll workers in. Thanks for checking!

Sorry to see yet another branch give up on the older and very clear cataloging system. Mystery fiction is much harder to find now than when it was just alphabetical by the author's last name.

I am also dismayed that the Pittsfield branch is re-organizing their shelving. I find the stacks in the Westgate branch hard to browse. I want to be able to explore a broader category of genre and find that the selections at Westgate are too specific and often misleading. Mystery fiction is definitely harder to find than when it was alphabetical by the author's last name.

Why fix what isn’t broken. I memorized the Dewey Decimal System in 5th grade. I know my way around any library that uses it. But I stopped @ Mallets Creek to get a book on sea turtles for my class. The catalogue didn’t list what category it is shelved under, so I checked the categories that seemed logical with no luck. I asked a librarian for help. We both wandered around for another 10 minutes before she finally found it. Not good!

We're sorry you had a bad experience at Malletts Creek. The catalog does show the categories for each item, it sounds like you might have been looking at a title that isn't in the collection at Malletts Creek. These would be under Animals / Reptiles & Amphibians in the Kids Nonfiction section; we're glad you were able to find the item!

Mary lewison said "I asked a librarian for help. We both wandered around for another 10 minutes before she finally found it."

Your comment saying "it sounds like you might have been looking at a title that isn't in the collection at Malletts Creek" and then "we're glad you were able to find the item" is contradictory. When library staff have difficulty finding an item, there is certainly a problem.

Pittsfield is my "backup" library when I can't get to Mallets.

I love AADL as a whole. My main reason for spending actual time IN the libraries is to get work done. I have no Internet access at home and I need a clean, quiet, place to work. My concern is the loss of seating.

If you lot got taller shelves, the height you find at Kroger's, you could put more seats in. My dream library would be full of study carrels. I don't like distractions & big communal tables ARE a distraction. The little glass rooms are fine. Why not build more of those. You COULD if you got taller shelves. People at Kroger aren't complaining about the height and people go to the grocer far more than they do the library!

My big worry is this new bookable room (which I see no need for) will eat up seating.

I personally have no issue with the new "category" system over the Dewey system because A) I browse online & B) Categories are the same as shopping at a bookstore, but I can appreciate others preference for Dewey.

I certainly hope someone takes the concerns people are raising to heart. New computers are nice, but less seating is not.

Thanks for your comment, Tsarist; no seating will be removed to add the meeting rooms, 2 small glass rooms seating up to 6, and the main computer room will become a larger meeting room for up to 35, similar to the Freespace at the Downtown Library. Like the meeting rooms at Westgate, Malletts, and Downtown, the meeting rooms will be available for walk-in use when not booked, and we welcome individuals who want to use them for work in addition to meetings. We've had a lot of demand for this type of resource; the new rooms at Malletts were booked for 81 different meetings just in August. Also, the low shelves are preferable to preserve sightlines for safety of library visitors. Thanks again for your feedback, and thanks for using your library!

I do agree with all the comments about going to categories. I find Westgate too time consuming to try and find what I'm looking for. I do like the additional changes you're making.

I do not think that the verbal organization system can be suitable for browsing unless there is a complete list of the categories somewhere (on the library website and/or in the library branches).

The Dewey Decimal System, however, is great for browsing if the shelves are labeled (which they are) and if you memorize the 10 main categories of books. Fiction should be arranged by authors' names. Having 4+ categories plus the author's name is too much.

I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree. Personally, I've found browsing much easier at Westgate despite being comfortable with DDC (see the aforementioned anecdote). No classification system can ever be perfect or neutral, but I think the new one will be more intuitive for more visitors as it does not require rote memorization and eliminates some of DDC's more problematic aspects. No single system will suit everyone all of the time, and I think the AADL is doing its best to make items accessible to visitors who are not previously familiar with libraries' historical idiosyncracies.

New is not necessarily better. Having a more vague system would be considered going backwards by some. It seems to be the way of things though. It's a bit odd to call the Dewy Decimal System an idiosyncrasy. It's not a quirk. "Intuitive" is a trendy word that isn't scientific. I don't want to feel my way to a book. Many people have already given specific examples that it is a very subjective system where certain items could be put under multiple "intuitive" headings. The DDS doesn't require rote memorization. All you have to do is look at a chart on the wall to see where your desired subject is. Or look it up in the catalogue and you can find EXACTLY where it is. The whole point of it is that it gives a very specific way to identify written texts. The DDS is used around the world. So there is consistency from library to library. Including universities. With a subjective system and different ways of categorizing things in every single town in the world and every university it would be chaos. It's sad that some people think a simple number system is super hard to understand. Maybe that's the state of things. We learned it in grade school, meaning a 7 year old can understand it. At least when I went to school we could. I never make comments but I kind of care about this. No disrespect intended at all. I'm very glad for the AADL.

AADL should provide a list of the homemade categories currently in use somewhere. Not sure what the advantage is of shrouding this in mystery.

Non fiction / Dystopia / Epic /

I look forward to the new meeting rooms.

But am sorry to hear that the books will be reorganized.
Like many other people, I find the system at Westgate much harder to use. So I rely on requesting books in advance, or asking a human for help.

(Once upon a time, when I worked reference in an academic library, we joked that one way to increase our usage statistics would be to make systems confusing so people would need to ask for service.....)

Thanks for your comment, betsywil, we're very sorry you find the system at Westgate harder to use. And thanks for sharing your story about academic libraries. At AADL, we don't attempt to count interactions with staff, but we do count checkouts, and so far, that data significantly supports this change. Westgate often has more checkouts than the Downtown Library on similar door count, and with a far smaller collection. After converting the collection at Malletts Creek to categories, July checkouts at Malletts were up 20% compared to the prior year. We always want to hear from our patrons about how they feel about changes at the library, but we also look at the evidence when assessing whether our decisions are having the intended impact.
You wouldn't guess it from these comment threads, but we often get questions across the desk at our locations that have not yet been converted to categories as to when that will happen, as they prefer to use the collections that have been reorganized into categories. Thanks again for your feedback, and thanks for continuing to use your library!

I can think of many reasons why the checkouts at Westgate and Malletts Creek would increase other than the verbal organization system.

For Westgate, its size increased quite a lot. When you have more items, you have more checkouts. There is also a coffee shop. That certainly increases visits, and therefore also checkouts. There are also meeting rooms. If people have meetings, then that means that more people will come, so here is yet another reason for more checkouts. I also think that having newer (and I think more) computers might contribute to the increase.

For Malletts Creek, the meeting rooms certainly increase visitors. There are also more shelves (and more items available to check out) than before. Changing the location of the requested items might also have caused a slight increase.

At both of the mentioned branches, the presence of big signs showing what types of books are on a particular shelf makes it easier to find things. The signs are a great addition to the libraries, but they are also 100% compatible with the Dewey Decimal system.

These checkout stats are utterly meaningless, unless you controlled for everything else that was going on. What were the programs, for example. Perhaps this years programs were much more popular than last year's? The weather? When you refurbish a branch, I bet you get more traffic just because people are so glad to have their preferred location open again, nevermind whether they like the changes...........

I've yet to see any suggestions I've made be taken into consideration. I've been told to my face something that was very much like "tough toenails; we're doing what we want to do." You say you want to hear feedback, but then you bit-bucket our comments and that's the end of that.

I'm very sorry you feel that we don't want to hear your feedback, vln. We read and consider every comment, and make our decisions heavily based on feedback from users. I know you're not happy with this, but we are continuing with this project because of the feedback we've had, not in spite of it. We're very sorry this is so troubling to you, but when we consider all the feedback we get from patrons, it is clearly in support of this project, even though some patrons are very upset by it.

Please understand that we have made these decisions because they have proven to be effective and popular, not for dogmatic or dismissive reasons. Door count at Malletts Creek in July 2019 was about 5% less than July 2018, and checkouts across the system were slightly down compared to the previous year, so a 20% increase in checkouts is a significant signal of more books being found by patrons. This is very clear evidence in support of the anecdotal feedback we get across the desk from users every day. We don't expect everyone to like these changes, but please trust that we are making them in pursuit of the public good, informed by both feedback and data.

Again, we're sorry you don't feel heard by the library. I don't see any contact us comments from you that didn't receive a prompt response, and we've utilized many of your suggestions over the years. Please feel free to if there are any issues for which you're still waiting for a response. Thanks for your feedback, and thank you for continuing to use the library.

Could you please list some decisions that have been made based on verbal user feedback?

I have a long list of reasons why circulation at Westgate increased after the expansion, based on a previous post:

Its size increased quite a lot. When you have more items, you have more checkouts.
There is now a coffee shop. That certainly increases visits.
There are now meeting rooms. If people have meetings, then that means that more people will go there.
Before the expansion, there were no events at Westgate. Now that there are events there, many more people go there.

The previous response implies that expanding this new system to additional branches is one decision based on positive verbal (and nonverbal) feedback.

I'm sure that the AADL has sophisticated statistics that can track metrics such as checkouts per visit, or other measures that can take increased gate counts into account. If we can come up with these nuanced ways to parse the data, I'm sure someone on the staff has too (and with far more information to work from).

Regardless, it sounds like checkouts are indeed up. We can't know for sure whether the numbers would have been higher under a different system; it's a counterfactual amd not particularly illuminating given the evidence (statistical and anecdotal) that does indicate that many visitors are checking books out under the new system. The AADL is delivering books to the community. It is fulfilling this aspect of its mission. Some people find the new system easier than the old one.

I'm curious, in light of the many patient responses here, what additional evidence the library could provide to convince you that this decision has been made in good faith.

I have to agree with the other comments about the system at Westgate. I only go there when something I want is not available at Pittsfield. The Pittsfield system makes more sense logically, and I've never had a problem finding what I want. I've hunted around at Westgate for something and then had to go back to the computers to look it up AGAIN and then figure out the path to the exact location. I have to ask someone for service or spend more time than desired wandering around looking for what I want. Sometimes change is good, but in this case not good in my opinion.

Agee and think part of the problem is the set up and signage used at Westgate. Chalkboards are difficult without good vision and categories that seem like they should be together just aren't.
My biggest issue is books by the same author being scattered around. Impossible to just find something. People are reading less and less so it should be made easier, not harder, to find a particular book

As you might expect upon reading my username, I cannot help but defend the honor of categories against all of this SLANDER. As a matter of fact, I am currently in the process of adopting a stray kitten that I encountered leaving my local branch of the Ann Arbor Public Library. A branch which I previously never felt comfortable using due to the complex, and utterly unaccessible Dewey decimal system. When my branch adopted categories, I rediscovered what my library can offer me and it is thanks to this I encountered my feline friend which I will name CATegory.

I'd be delighted to share some ways to learn the Dewey Decimal system. (this is a 38 page PDF, so it might not be that helpful)

The main idea is that there are 10 categories of books that all have many subcategories:

000 Computer science, information & general works
100 Philosophy & psychology
200 Religion
300 Social sciences
400 Language
500 Science
600 Technology
700 Arts & recreation
800 Literature
900 History & geography

This is quoted from the PDF that I shared a link to, and it summarizes the basic idea:

4.19 Notational hierarchy is expressed by length of notation. Numbers at any given level are usually subordinate to a class whose notation is one digit shorter; coordinate with a class whose notation has the same number of significant digits; and superordinate to a class with numbers one or more digits longer. The underlined digits in the following example demonstrate this notational hierarchy:

600 Technology (Applied sciences)
630 Agriculture and related technologies
636 Animal husbandry
636.7 Dogs
636.8 Cats

“Dogs” and “Cats” are more specific than (i.e., are subordinate to) “Animal husbandry”; they are equally specific as (i.e., are coordinate with) each other; and “Animal husbandry” is less specific than (i.e., is superordinate to) “Dogs” and “Cats.”

(no longer quoting) Once you know those 10 categories (and yes, the Dewey Decimal system is based on categories), you can find the general location of any book in any Dewey Decimal-organized library. You can also search the catalog for things that you want and the fact that the Dewey Decimal system is based on numbers makes it very easy to find things if you know their call numbers. Learning the subcategories for specific topics that you read a lot about is also helpful. Every book about a particular topic has the same call number.

As someone with number dyslexia (dyscalculia if you'd like the specific term) - I actually appreciate the move away from the Dewey Decimal System. It was extremely hard for me to write down the numbers for the system, and look up the corresponding numbers on the shelves. I get that most neurotypical people without this problem would find it handy but I for one, applaud the move over to categories that are easier for me to find.

While organizing a library using a system developed for bookstores (BISAC [Book Industry Subject and Category] Subject Headings) strikes some of us as a CATastrophe or CATaclysmic, even inspiring CATerwauls, I am glad you are BUCKing the trend of LAMBasting people whose opinions differ from yours, which RATtles nerves. You have clearly FERRETed out the good things in bad situations, trying to focus on fEWEr upsetting things about the perceived “HIPPOcracy” and instead finding a nice CAT. Let us know what you name your CAT. Perhaps Elsie (LC= Library of Congress), Dui, or Bisac.

Clearly, I have touched a nerve so I'll try and keep this civil. May I ask why you are so convinced that there aren't people out there who prefer and benefit from this new organizational system? The people working at the library are not idiots and I'm sure many hours of research and analysis have gone in to making these decisions. The old way is not always the best way, and clearly, feedback at the libraries has shown people overwhelmingly prefer this system or else they wouldn't institute these changes on such a broad scale. With change though, there will always be a few select voices that are upset and are the loudest on platforms such as these I suppose.

I am not at all convinced of any such thing, nor have you touched a nerve. I certainly never said anyone at AADL is an idiot, or that old ways are best. Clearly our sense of humor differ.

I do, however, take issue with the idea that user preferences guided these changes. If this were true, then the fact that circulation went up after the change would not be used to explain why a change was made in the past.

My main problem is that the only statement AADL made about this was that sudden changes to Dewey would not be made (see my first post), and then announcing that the change has been decided. All expressions of concern have been dismissed. The lack of interest in patron feedback is very concerning.

I take serious issue with a few of your points, and I know I'm not going to convince you but nonetheless here I am trying just in case you might be open to a different point of view.

Library of Congress classification is arcane and difficult and in no way suitable for a public library. I have twice in the past week tried to assist people looking for things within this system, and it is incredibly hard to explain, even for someone who regularly works with it and has cataloged in it. It can work for very specific audiences and very large, broad collections, but the barrier to entry is far too high for the general audience that uses the AADL.

Your argument that changes cannot be predicated on feedback because feedback on changes cannot occur before the changes themselves do is an inherently circular one. You seem to be saying that if nothing ever changes, then nothing ever can/should. It is quite possible that the AADL had previously received complaints about the difficulty of finding materials under DDC and that those complaints drove this change. I don't know whether this is the case, but it is certainly possible. Nor is the AADL by any means the first public library system to explore this type of organization. Additionally, the changes at Malletts Creek and Pittsfield have occurred after a significant trial period at Westgate; I have a hard time believing that the library would go ahead with further changes had the feedback regarding Westgate been overwhelmingly negative.

Furthermore, this argument does not negate the fact that the new system has apparently led to an increased number of checkouts. Even if the AADL had made this change without feedback about DDC and without careful consideration (very unlikely, in my opinion, but still theoretically possible), the library has evidence that the new system leads to more checkouts. Given that part of the library's mission is to make materials available to the community in this way, that seems like a positive outcome regardless of the presence or absence of feedback that predicated the relevant changes.

And finally, the AADL has not suddenly eradicated DDC. I believe that the Westgate branch has been using this new system since I returned to Ann Arbor (about two and a half years ago); this hardly qualifies as a sudden change when you look at it system-wide. Again, I find it incredibly difficult to believe (and especially so in light of Eli's comments above) that the AADL is doing this to spite users, or in the face of negative feedback.

I don't doubt that some people will have a more difficult time with this system, and I'm sure that the AADL takes these comments seriously; all of their comments above indicate that this is the case. Indeed, this system seems to prioritize browsing over known-item searching, and it involves a good deal of arbitrary decision making (including some I heartily disagree with!). But I remain steadfast in my belief that the staff has undertaken this (admittedly dramatic) change with a great deal of consideration and caution. No system is perfect for every user and/or every need, but in many ways this system represents an improvement over the previous one for many people, and prioritizing certain needs over others isn't necessarily dismissing those extant and valid concerns.

Without knowing the full scope of the feedback, it is unfair of us to determine that the library is acting with wanton disregard for its users, and all of the official responses here and elsewhere indicate that this is not the case.

Or maybe the new system of cataloging books at Westgate is based on elitist fads. If something has worked for a long time like the Dewey Decimal system why change it? If it ain't broke, don't fix it with an exotic, hip replacement

The DDS has categories. Categories are things divided into groups so that each group has some similarities. Isn't this the basis of the DDS? I'm not sure why you are bringing up categories as if it is some kind of system rather than a word describing things divided into groups. Is AADL calling their new system "categories?" Because the DDS also has many categories. Many things in life have categories. But normally people don't name their system for categorizing things "Categories."
We learned it in grade school and we were 6-10 year olds. I thought we were just ordinary kids but maybe we were more bright than I thought! I could easily find the watercolor painting section and then browse all those books. I did that by finding the art category and the subcategory of watercolor painting. I don't get why that is complex. This just makes me feel sad and worry for the world.

DDC is based on a set of categories first determined by a single dude in the 1870s, since expanded to include newly arising topics (e.g., computers). The system is nonetheless somewhat rigid and has some pretty significant biases and idiosyncrasies baked into it (to name a few: all non-Christian religions are relegated to 290-299, whereas Christianity gets all of 200-289; subjects can move around based on how they are perceived (like Wicca or homosexuality); true crime is classified by the nature of the crime and not as its own genre). Thus, it inherently reflects the views of its creator. Dewey does make sense if you understand it, but none of its classifications necessarily reflect an unarguably objective view of the world; it's just what a lot of people are familiar and comfortable with because it's so widespread (certainly a point in its favor, but times can change). I think that one significant goal of this new system is to make it more accessible for AADL visitors who did *not* learn DDC, or who haven't used it in years, or who never quite figured it out in the first place. This doesn't say anything inherently negative about these people, just that for whatever reason Dewey doesn't work for their needs.

Something that is self-evident to one person may not be to another (also true of the new system) and, again, Dewey doesn't actually work for all purposes (nor will the new system). For example, I've known Dewey since shelving books in elementary school and yet on two distinct occasions within the past month I've been unable to locate materials in the Downtown branch; I subsequently had no difficulty finding the same types of materials at Westgate. For the example you cite here, I believe that the new system has an "art" category and you'd be able to go browse there, without needing to first determine what number art should be under. And a lot of the new categories track very closely with Dewey; the changes I've noticed tend to bring categories that are often perceived to be closely related closer together than they might be in Dewey and to use different terminology to label the shelves (along with very welcome larger signage). Both use categories, but the approach to those categories is slightly different; the new system is more flexible, to both its (and users') benefit and detriment.

Thanks for asking! We will be moving the Pittsfield Thursday Night Storytime to the Downtown Library. You can see it on the calendar now, and it's in the new JUMP. We're sorry that we weren't able to move it to a different branch, but the spaces weren't consistently available.

I’m also sorry to hear about the change to “categories”. I avoid going to Westgate for just that reason. I find it very challenging to find things there.

Very pleased to see the categories system expanding to Pittsfield! While it can take a second to adjust, I've found the system to be very helpful in finding new books to read relational to ones that I've enjoyed in the past. While some of the sub-categories can be a little mystifying that they have been chosen for use, I've never had a hard time finding something with the use of the call number in the catalog and the huge signs to orient myself (take note aadl, more signs please in general!). Looking forward to it!

Based on the comment: “pickup lockers won’t be available until the branch reopens”, does this mean the pick-up lockers will return?

I am dismayed to hear Pittsfield will be switching from Dewey to the verbal booksellers organization system. When I am looking for a familiar book at Westgate, I often can't find it on the shelf because I can't guess which category of youth fiction it has been sorted into, for example. So then I look it up in the catalog. And I still can't find it, though the catalog tells me it is on the shelf. So next I ask a librarian for help (always noting aloud that I find the new system very confusing). Often they lead me to a location that I wouldn't have expected from the information in the catalog. (This is an important point! When there is not a self-evident order to a system, such as 4 coming after 3 or N after M, it's more difficult to understand where to go next when you reach the end of a physical shelf.) I can see how the system would work well for bookstores that want to slow customers down so that they browse, and hopefully buy. I find it incredibly frustrating in a library, where I'd like to find what I'm looking for quickly and easily, without having to wait for a librarian to assist me. Please reconsider. Please.

I would like to add my negative opinion about the categories at Westgate. I don't enjoy browsing the shelves there - things are never where I expect them to be. Very frustrating!

I agree. The staff is great but you can't just run in and grab what you want. Going online to have staff pull it also means waiting for them to do this, then having to wait for the email. We still are lucky for such a great library system.

I also prefer the how the books are organized at the Pittsfield branch. I find the Westgate organization extremely confusing and it took me well over 20 minutes looking for (and never finding) Fancy Nancy books for my child. However, at Pittsfield, I can easily go to the children's section, look under the author's last name and find most of the books associated with this series. I suppose I will be able to adjust to the new system, but I suspect that I will be less likely to browse for specific books when I am just stopping in.

I love the renovations. Please add more small tables and chairs. It's often hard to find a place to study.

I work at an academic library now that uses the Library of Congress system, which is in my opinion is bizarre and terrible but was set up by very well-meaning people who set it up for "serendipitous browsing". Pittsfield branch is by far my favorite place to study (Bernoulli principle, coffee vending machine, weird squashy cagey chairs), and I'm very excited to be able to browse fiction in a more 'serendipitous ' way again there.

I have to agree with the many library patrons who do not like the way books are now arranged at Westgate and are apparently to be at Pittsfield too. The Dewey Decimal system has worked very well in many public libraries for a very long time. One should not drop something that works well just because you don't think it is not cool and modern enough and you want to go with the latest hot fad

This new system dates back to the 1970s. How is this a "new fad"? Several people on here have explicitly stated that the DDC does not work for them, so your claim that it works "very well" is false. People who work for the library have stated that library checkouts have gone up with the implementation of the new system. Clearly it works "very well," too. Change can be hard, but it is inevitable. We didn't have cell phones in the 1970s either, yet here we are today, and the world has not ended.

Wow, your comment comes totally out of left field. Absolutely nothing I said conveyed any sense of anger, and I am sorry (and mystified) that you feel that way. Just because you disagree with me doesn't mean that you are being attacked. Several people have commented that they like the new system and find it very helpful. The library staff has also commented trying to be helpful. There seems to be a distinct lack of understanding about this supposedly new system, which isn't new at all, only its implementation is new. Something that is over 40 years old isn't new, even if other systems are comparatively older. To me, being older makes a system less helpful.

Well I'm glad you don't feel that way. I didn't feel attacked though, I guess it's just the quotes that came across a little snide due to the nature of not being face. I'll admit I don't comment much on-line because I feel people are so negative sometimes. Just saying that lots of people have a different view of this and that's ok. Ann Arbor is a town that likes to feel ahead of the curve on many things so it's easy to assume this system is just another one of those things (even if it's been around awhile). At least us taxpayers didn't have to pay 50k for consultants to study the system before it's implemented. Good day to all!

I sure hope the change away from the Dewey Decimal System at Westgate and Pittsfield does not have something to do with Leftwing Political Correctness and hating/condemning America's past. But that element may well be there when I hear people talking about the Dewey Decimal System being biased and rigid. What is so biased and rigid if not Political Correctness and its constant condemnations of so much of the American past and history

My family is excited for these renovations, not the least of which are the category system from Westgate. I've found quite a few books and authors with the new system I would have otherwise passed over, and although it can sometimes take me a bit of time to locate the category I'm looking for, a quick AADL search or a friendly staff member have always been sufficient to find what I need. I'd love for this to come to Traverwood as well. Thanks for the hard work!

Our family is new to area and we adore the AADL. We mostly use the Pittsfield branch. We are a bit anxious about the change too, as the Dewey decimal has been our system for so many years, and we always are a bit adrift in Westgate or Malletts Creek; but we can learn! I want especially to say we like the meeting rooms you have...I don't need them much nowadays but when we were younger and more active in volunteering, they would have been a godsend. This is a great community resource. Keep up the good work. Thanks.

Thank goodness for the great and friendly staff members at westgate. I'm sad to hear Pittsfield is switching because when I only had a couple of minutes I went to Pittsfield since I could find things on my own. I remain mystified by Westgate and do rely on the staff… Which certainly takes more time.

It shouldn't matter how books are shelved so long as they appear (virtually) how I choose. Topically, Dewey Decimal, new, etc.; if I can select how I see lists on the computer terminal/website, it's fine. The database/search then tells me where to physically find the book. I do essentially the same thing with EndNote - sort however I want ,and find the physical printed article based on assigned sequential numbers.

Hi there, did you get my email about this in response to your question from a few days ago? We don't generally add donations to the collection. If there's a title you'd like us to have on the shelves, you can use the form at to suggest a title and we will obtain new copies suitable for circulation. Donations of books are given to the Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library for sale in their bookshop, and they give their proceeds to the Library to fund Summer Game and other programs. Thanks for asking!

Great to know the book shop proceeds are cycled back into library programs, of which there are so many options.
Shifting gears - sometimes programs have posters designed & displayed, with details, dates, etc. I've enjoyed the graphics and art work on several of them - very creative. Question - what happens to these posters after the program is over? Are they for sale? (If they were, it could be another source of revenue to cycle back to the program budget.)
Finally, I really appreciate all the things the library is and does - terrific offerings and friendly, knowledgeable staff. It's a community gem and I benefit from it regularly. Thanks a million!

Hi there, thanks for asking about event posters! We wouldn't usually sell these, but we usually have a big stack of the posters used to promote a big event at the event, free to take. We've also used the fabric banners from the light posts outside the downtown library as material for craft programs, and we auctioned some banners for summer game points at the Game Over Gala. If you're interested in a particular poster, just and we can usually get one in your hands. Thanks again for your interest!

After a lot of careful thought and reading these comments - THIS is what I wish AADL would have done, or could still do:
Dewey Decimal system - return to it for non-fiction books. I now cannot find a blasted thing in non - fiction. After living with it a little, I can find things in fiction, and THAT is where I, and probably most people want to do their browsing anyway.

So Browsing for Fiction, CDs, movies, tools and the like. Dewey Decimal for Non-fiction books and audio books.

I'll be willing to give a little if the rest of you are. This idea to me sounds like a perfect library. I really hope you consider this idea, and I really think this compromise would be to the greater benefit of the entire community.

ESPECIALLY if the increased checkouts are NOT in non-fiction and are everywhere else in the collection. :-)

Hi there, thanks for asking! We will announce an reopening date as soon as we know one; for now our plan remains 6-8 weeks from when it closed on 9/23. So that would be around mid-November. Stay tuned, and thanks for your patience!

With all these new meeting rooms, what are we losing? Where will be in the space and how many books, DVDs, and CDs will be eliminated or removed from circulation?


Hi there, thanks for asking. No materials are being eliminated or removed to make room for the new meeting rooms. The two smaller meeting rooms are replacing an open space with a few chairs in the back corner. The newspapers that had been tucked into that corner are being relocated to nearby, more visible shelves where there was room to condense the World Language section. The computer room is being turned into the larger meeting room, and 12 public computers will remain outside the new meeting room. Let us know if you have any other concerns about this!

AADL is Ann Arbor's greatest resource, bar none. I'm glad that there are plenty of resources to continue to beautify what is already way-above-average excellence. I will miss the outgoing/current organization. When they re-organized videos, I learned that staff had to search the same way I did, because the "new" is largely arbitrary. I adapted by doing most of my browsing online -the most important part of what is excellent for my requirements and tastes, and I'll do the same with books. As long as they don't put a coffee business in there, turning Pittsfield into another hangout, I'll be happy when my branch re-opens, and thank you!!

You can hear everything people are saying in the MC rooms . I wouldn't discuss confidential information in those new rooms.

Thanks for mentioning this. We are working on some new sound insulation for the rooms at Malletts Creek and we will be using the same approach for the Pittsfield rooms. It won't be ready when we reopen, but it is in progress.

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