Wayfinder: A New Way to Find What You're Looking for at the Library

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Date Posted:  9/22/2023



A new way to find what you’re looking for—and more








Deschutes Public Library is organizing print materials in a new way that will make browsing easier. Like most libraries, Deschutes Public Library has long used the Dewey Decimal System to organize its nonfiction materials. But in the last decade, an increasing number of public libraries have begun organizing their books in a way that closely resembles how bookstores are organized: by genres and categories. Deschutes Public Library began organizing its collections by category in Winter 2022/2023. This new system is called Wayfinder. The intent is to make it easy for customers to browse the collection and to find their way to the books they’re interested in. While getting used to Wayfinder, remember that there is always a knowledgeable library staff member available to help if you have any questions.

Wayfinder FAQs

What is Wayfinder?

Wayfinder is Deschutes Public Library’s new way of organizing its collections. It is largely based on how bookstores have organized their books: by category. Wayfinder groups books into broad categories (such as Cooking) and further sorts those categories into subcategories (such as Vegetarian).

How does Wayfinder work?

With Wayfinder, we use categories and subcategories instead of numbers, making it easier to browse by subject or topic—similar to the way you would browse and find books in a bookstore. For example, if you’re looking for a book with vegetarian recipes, simply head to the Cooking section and browse the books in the Vegetarian subcategory. You don’t need to know that books on vegetarian cooking are found in section 641. You simply need to head to where you would intuitively find books on vegetarian recipes: the cooking section.

If you didn’t come to browse and want to go to exactly the book you’re looking for, you can find the book title in our online catalog. There, you’ll see that after category and subcategory, Deschutes Public Library does use the Dewey Decimal System to sort items, which means you can go exactly to where your specific book is located on the shelf. This is what’s called a hybrid approach, where we organize non-fiction books by category and sub-category for easy browsing—much like you would find in a bookstore—with the Dewey Decimal System helping to provide customers with specific book locations within subcategories.

With Dewey, the spine label for Lottie Bildirici’s book Running on Veggies looked like this:

641.5636                                           < Dewey call number

BILDIRICI                                           < author last name

Using Wayfinder, the same book will have a spine label that looks like this:

ADULTS                               < age group

COOKING                           < category

VEGETARIAN                     < sub-category

641.5636                            < Dewey call number

BILDIRICI                            < author last name


What about fiction books?

Wayfinder also organizes fiction books into genres—such as science fiction—for kids, teens, and adults. Are you ready to cozy up with a mystery? With Wayfinder, you can head directly to the mystery section in fiction to find the book you’re looking for or to simply browse for your next read. Fiction titles in all age groups are categorized by genre, and then by the author’s last name.

Like in nonfiction, If you know exactly what book you’re looking for, but aren’t sure where to find it, you can use one of our computers to search the catalog. You can also ask any of our knowledgeable staff members, who will be happy to help.

Why is the library using Wayfinder instead of the Dewey Decimal System?

While the Dewey Decimal System is still in use, more and more public libraries are stepping away from this older organizational structure in an effort to make books easier to browse and find. The Dewey system dates back to the 1870s and was created for a society very different than the one we live in today. Public libraries long ago stopped using Dewey to organize fiction books, and today, an increasing number of public libraries are using a more intuitive way of organizing their entire collections.

Dewey assigns a number to a genre. For example, history books are in the 900s. If you’re looking for a book on World War II, it would be difficult to find what you’re interested in without using the computer catalog to guide you unless you have the Dewey Decimal System memorized. With Wayfinder, you simply head to the clearly marked History section, where you can then browse books in the World War II subcategory. The goal is to make it easy for you to find your way to the books that interest you. You many even find other books along while you’re browsing!

When is the library doing all of this?

The work is already underway, having been completed at the Redmond Library (temporary location: 2127 S Hwy 97 in Redmond) and in process at the Downtown Bend Library. Work will continue at other libraries through the Spring of 2023.

Page Last Modified Wednesday, March 8, 2023