In chapter 5 of Lesk’s Understanding Digital Libraries, Lesk mentions that in cataloging systems such as the Dewey Decimal System and Library of Congress, each book can be placed in only one catagory “since the shelf location is determined by the class number” (p. 121). Even if a library has multiple copies of a book, collocation is important because users will be annoyed if they have to look in multiple places for a certain book.
We were talking about collection organization in my Readers Advisory class, as far as the pros and cons of separating or integrating genre fiction from/with the general fiction. Customers who never browse in certain sections, like the sci-fi/fantasy section, are more likely to expand their reading horizons and check out a previously untried genre when the books are intershelved. However, other readers who want to browse in a specific genre are frustrated when they have to search for their desired genre among other genres. Several Tulsa Public Libraries are intershelving westerns with general fiction. It seems that I read about users being frustrated with this arrangement in another library system–I wonder what Tulsa’s customers think about this intershelving?
It strikes me that a benefit of digital libraries is that one resource can be accessed under a number of subject headings, and the location of the information package online is less likely to hinder access. A link to a western mystery story can be placed under westerns and under mysteries. The story is never checked out (unless perhaps it’s an ebook with limited access), so users do not have to look in multiple places; it’s always in both places. This may seem exceedingly obvious, but it hadn’t occured to me until the Lesk chapter, our Readers Advisory discussion, and the difficulty of my latest library search triangulated in my brain.