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Doing without Dewey June 9, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Floor, Books, Just Browsing, Librarians, Public libraries, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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The Rangeview Library District near Denver has decided to discontinue use of the Dewey Decimal system for its shelving arrangements.  They will use an organizational scheme similar to a bookstore.  I do not know all the details of how this will work, but since the Rangeview Director, Pam Sandlian Smith, is my former boss, friend, and generally greatly admired person, I am quite interested in seeing how it turns out.  And let’s just say that most of Pam’s ideas turn out to be very good ones.  (Keep in mind that she dubbed me the “Book Goddess.”) 

We actually considered this approach for our Book Floor at the West Palm Beach Public Library, but eventually chose to use bookstore categories AND keep the Dewey Decimal system.  So – we do have a separate cookbook section, and a history section, and even some more unusual sections like Guys Read and Go Green, but within those sections the books are arranged by Dewey. 

I was a bookseller for eight years before I went to library school, and I like to think that I can see the strong and weak points of each system.  At our library, I believe we have the best of both.  You can walk in the door and go right to the section of your choice (there are about 50) and enjoy browsing as you might at a bookstore.  You can also use the computer catalog or the assistance of a friendly library employee to find the exact book that you want.  

There were a number of considerations that went into our decision making, but I think that we arrived at the best arrangement for our library.  If you visit the Denver Post site, you can see the article and comments about the Adams County Public Library.  I’m happy to see that people care so much about their local library. 

Happy Reading,


The Book Goddess


Farewell to 100 Clematis Street March 5, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Librarians, Public libraries, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Two weeks from today, the West Palm Beach Public Library building at 100 Clematis Street will close for the last time.  Sometime in April, a wonderful new West Palm Beach Public Library building will open at 411 Clematis Street.  

We are looking forward to having more space, more computers, and more resources with which to serve our citizens.  We are working long hours to ensure that the new library will be the best ever.  I cannot say enough good things about the inspired leadership of our Director, Chris Murray, and our Assistant Director, Lisa Webb, and I am sure you will be wonderfully impressed when we open. 

But before we turn off the lights and lock the door, let’s say a few kind words about the library building where I have spent most of my working life (and my entire professional career). 

Cast your mind back to 1962.  When the new building at 100 Clematis Street opened, it was a wonderful modern facility with an abstract frieze in luscious colors surrounding the top of the building.  Fountains flanked the entrance.  It was featured in several library publications and was a proud accomplishment for architect Norman Robson. 

At 100 Clematis Street, books were checked out by the thousands and eventually the hundreds of thousands.  Generations of children attended countless story times.  The reference librarians answered more questions than you can imagine on every conceivable topic. 

Sometime in the 1980’s, we began to use computers.  In the 1990’s, along came the Internet and it was not just a fad.  The library building was changing, too.  The frieze was removed as it was thought to be a safety issue during hurricanes.  The fountains were removed and a new façade was placed on the building.  

Ten years ago, under the visionary leadership of then Library Director Pam Sandlian Smith, we had a brilliant interior makeover by designer Peter Robinson.  It was one of those transitions that change everything.  We approached our work with a new energy.  Customers were delighted.  The library bloomed! 

We bloomed so much that the walls of this building could hardly contain us, and that ultimately led to the wonderful new facility at 411 Clematis.    

It will be a great day when we open, but I will certainly not leave the old building without a backward glance.  I know that the City of West Palm Beach is a finer community because of our Library.   I am a better human being for the years I have spent there, for the work I have done, for the staff and public I have encountered.  Many, many thanks to all of you! 


The Book Goddess

Farewell to Pam (and How I Became the Book Goddess) November 2, 2007

Posted by bookgoddess in West Palm Beach Public Library.

Today is the last day at work for our director of ten years, Pam Sandlian Smith.  So today my blog is about her.

It’s pretty easy to write about books.  At least for me, it’s much harder to express my feelings when someone important in my life moves away.  And you need to understand that Pam led an amazing transformation in our library.  If we are creative, if we are generous, if we are “The World’s Nicest Library,” it’s due in large part to her leadership.

I remember that our administrative assistant, Tish, once referred to Pam as “My dear Pam.”  Well, she’s dear to me, too, and I’m truly sorry she’s leaving.

I know she has good reasons.  She has a challenging new position waiting for her, and family in the area, including a son who is about to become a father.  All good reasons for making a move, so I can’t try to talk her out of it. 

She actually did try to leave several years ago, but we got a reprieve.  I remember writing on her memory quilt, “Thank you for inspiring us.”  She still has the quilt to remember us by, and we still have the inspiration.

Pam is quiet and gentle – and brilliant and visionary.  We were so lucky to have her with us for more than ten years.

“My dear Pam” – You really are my hero.  I wish you all the best and I hope we live up to the vision that you inspired us to create.  And many, many thanks for naming me

The Book Goddess