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Thursday, August 30, 2007

While Weeding

I've been sharing the weeding of our picturebook collection with a colleague, and I'm currently done with my portion (M-Z). So I've been moved down to our DC (Duplicate Copy) collection in storage in the basement. This collection is not entirely ridiculous in it's inception, but in practice is completely illogical. If we had multiple copies of a book one or more of those copies was removed from the overcrowded picturebook room. This is understandable. But they were placed in storage where patrons cannot see them. Even if all the other copies of a particular title are checked out patrons probably wouldn't know that another copy is available if they only ask. Most of these have not circulated in years while their counterparts in the stacks are sometimes never in. I can understand keeping the DC collection, but only if it is accessible to the public. Instead we are just integrating it into the current collection which I'm not entirely happy about either. With a still overcrowded picturebook room many books are left continuously in the shelving area. This leaves an aggravated librarian running back and forth across the room to find a book the catalog says is "on the shelf". In general, I think we need different shelving methods or different labels on our computer records. We have similar issues with summer reading books which are pulled aside for those browsing from summer reading lists. I was told I would "just remember" which books were in the summer reading shelf. Unfortunately a ten-year-old that actually looks up a book on the catalog, finds the call number, and makes it to the proper place on the shelf will not "just remember" that this is a summer reading book. I think all collections should be patron friendly-- from the catalog to the shelving. We shouldn't have self-sufficient patrons frustrated because our system doesn't make sense. To my deep disappointment I was told that most of our patrons don't want to bother with the catalog anyway so as long as staff can find things it doesn't matter. Even typing this frustrates me. I don't want to give up on my patrons-- I want to teach them how to be independent and proud of their library and their ability to use it. It should be accessible and it should feel like it is theirs. I resent being a gatekeeper-- I want to be a facilitator. Everything from the DC collection to the catalog should be available for them to use whenever they choose, and it should all be plain and clear what is available and where it is. Now if only I can get my supervisor to agree...


Eric said...

So do you think that libraries should go the way of bookstores like the one in Arizona that created all that controversy? Or is it a problem with our catalogs? Are they too difficult - built for librarians but not for patrons?

Ms. Hegna said...

I can understand what the library in Arizona did-- as long as there is an "address" for all the books why go with archane Dewey?

My particular issues with my library are the lack of signage, that the catalog call numbers are not intuitive, and that there are 7+ places any given book with the call number "JE Yolen" could be. Our mysterious Yolen book could be in the picturebook room on the shelf, on display above the shelves, on display on the wall, or with the concept books. The book could be in the shelving area on a cart, on the overflow cart, or on the overflow shelf. Or the book could be by the fireplace on the summer reading cart. It's ridiculous because all of these spots would show the same result on the catalog.

I most definitely have issues with our catalog system-- it is slow, the results are not obvious, and our call numbers and results make no sense to someone who isn't versed in our library language. A post for another day in itself.

Anonymous said...

Definitely the catalog system needs to be re-defined. As to the DC issue, a system change is necessary to cross-define books that are frequently used to copies that are in storage. Possibly a data query can be used on a regular basis.