The expanded Westgate branch of the Ann Arbor District Library reopened in September with an attached Sweetwaters. The cafe’s tables flow like an estuary into the library proper, with no real boundary, making it the first public library in Ann Arbor to proudly offer patrons the opportunity to browse while eating a gooey cinnamon roll.

More quietly, the new branch also ditched another library tradition: nonfiction is no longer organized using the Dewey decimal system. Books are still grouped by subject, but instead of using Melvil Dewey’s nineteenth-century numeric system, they’re arranged alphabetically in categories announced by large signs–Biography, Business, Computers, Cooking, etc. “When we did it with DVDs and CDs several years ago, it tripled the circulation,” a library worker explained to a curious patron.

AADL director Josie Parker confirms that statistic and says the change “has been met with overwhelmingly positive response. When there is confusion, we walk persons through, and then they are finding it simple and straightforward to navigate the new shelving system.”

The new layout is part of a quest to make libraries more user friendly; like the in-store cafe, it’s something bookstores have been doing for ages. Other maverick libraries around the country are doing it too, and it’s possible that other AADL branches may also make the switch.