Libaries, warehouses, and “smart” numbering systems

Via Scoop.itlean manufacturing

Like warehouses, libraries are storage and retrieval systems, and have the same need to identify and locate physical objects. Almost all manufacturing companies and libraries use numbering systems that are “smart” in that they encode information in the IDs. While it may have been a good idea in 1876, when the libraries’ Dewey Decimal Classification was invented, it is obsolete in the age of databases. But the weight of tradition keeps it going.

Encoding information in part numbers is just as obsolete in Manufacturing, where it increases training costs, unnecessarily complicates information systems, encourages confusion between similar parts having similar IDs, and makes data analysis contingent on the ability to extract the encoded information out of the part numbers. But you hear almost no voices making these points in the manufacturing world.

This article is from 2007 — not exactly breaking news — but it is the most recent I could find about a public library district, in Maricopa County, AZ, that has gotten rid of the Dewey system, uses the books’ ISBNs for IDs, and organizes the library floors like bookstores do. The readers no longer need to learn to decode the book IDs, the categorization of the books is independent of their IDs and can be changed, and all the book data can be retrieved on line without needing the ID, including availability status in branches.