NetFlix Categories Replaces Dewey Decimal
Posted by repplinger
I ran across this interesting farce from the Cronk of Higher Education (take off of the Chronicles of Higher Education) through a recent ALA email release. It describes how an academic library drops its subject headings for the NetFlix method of organizing content. Originally, I thought this was real, which it isn’t.
Just for fun, I wondered what would happen if this were real? One can understand switching a movie collection to match those of the NetFlix, but to incorporate the book collection (plus all other materials) into this classification system would really be something!
There has been a consistent push for libraries to satisfy students and improve how library patrons access literature and all forms of information. Several libraries of late have moved to alternative classification systems to make browsing their collections more intuitive. Some have even moved to systems similar to some well-known large book chains.
However, let’s take a look at a few assumptions should a library ever make a big jump to use commercial movie organization system. They would have to change their entire collection of literature and all other types of info to fit into broad entertainment categories. They would loose their refined subject categories, sub-categories, sub-subcategories, etc. Would the library find other institutions who would partner with them in their venture, and how would the ties to other libraries be affected in a system that is not widely adopted. What would happen should the business fold (the chances of which would be significantly higher during these economic hard times)?
According to the Cronk of Higher Ed article, the institution in question, the College of Eastern Nevada, experience a lot of support for this move. I just wonder what would happen to library users who would not be familiar with NetFlix. Let’s say that the families of students, their financial support, had a NetFlix subscription. The family decides to cancel their NetFlix subscription to save money for rising tuition costs, car insurance for their students, or perhaps to offset a loss of a family job. Or even more likely, they never had a NetFlix subscription in the first place. Entering the library would truly be a completely different world, more so than it is already to some people.
Below is a screen shot from the Cronk of Higher Education post comparing the standard Dewey classification system with NetFlix.
Assuming the left column is equivalent to the right, one would have some very surprising browsing results. The entertainment content and selection is considerably different from the educational content of an academic library. Lets say, for example, a student was looking for literature on the social justice movement of African-Americans in the 1960s & 70s. Might she naturally look under the Documentary section (listed above). Also, some of the categories would seem counter intuitive, such as the Sci-Fi and Fantasy collections. I have to laugh at the thought of trying to find a book on cell biology in a science fiction section. At any rate, enjoy the Cronk of Higher Ed reading.