The message that has come through on blogs and discussion boards is loud and clear: we librarians know what’s best. Yes, before we build a branch we do our demographic research. If more families are moving into the neighborhood, we expand the children’s room. If local immigration patterns indicate a need, we purchase more Spanish or Chinese materials. But actually sit down with neighborhood residents and ask them what they want? I don’t think so.
Keep Dewey or kill it? There are pros and cons to each approach, and what works in the 30,000-volume Perry Branch may not work in your library. But what does work is listening to your public, having the guts to experiment, and creating libraries that are more intuitive for your students and users than for you. After all, they’ve come to use our books and DVDs, our reference services and databases—not to learn our idiosyncratic systems.