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A Library Tale

Yesterday at work, the Reference Librarian, Amy (who is also my very good friend) came to me to express her frustration about the over-crowding of the fiction shelves. I ventured out into the fiction section of the library and saw that she was right. The shelves are very full, particularly in the Ks and Ls. It’s hard to believe that this 25,000 square foot library doesn’t have enough book shelves, but it’s true.


The thing is, there’s lot of empty book shelves upstairs, where we shelve the nonfiction. So we started taking a look at the varoius collections we have downstairs and discussing the option of moving something upstairs. I told Amy, “It’s good marketing. Just like the grocery stores putting the bread and milk in the back section of the stores, this will force our patrons to venture into other sections of the library.” Large Print would be the logical set of books to move since it’s a smallish size collection but would still free up enough room to really make a difference in the fiction section. But the thing is, it’s mostly older people reading large print and I don’t necessarily want to make them trek through the entire library to get to the stuff they want. Marketing or not, they would complain and they already complain enough – remind me to tell you the story of the flu shot clinic sometime. The mystery collection is too large to fit upstairs and the science fiction and fantasy collections are too small to make a difference.

Amy and I looked at each other and sighed, realizing that moving a collection really wasn’t a possibility after all.

And then, it came to me. I looked at Amy and said, “I’ve got it! Just don’t buy books written by authors with last names that begin with K and L.”

Problem solved. But don’t be looking over here for the latest Stephen King book.

This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. How about moving one genre of fiction, like romance or suspense? Hide all the Mary Higgins Clark books and make people ask where you put them.

    (OTOH Dick Francis is also classified as suspense. Ah well.)

  2. As a booklover – and a bookstore employee – I like your thinking! ha ha

    What if you moved series titles — that way you would train the patrons that like specific series to head upstairs. And all their books would be in one spot and not mixed in with the same authors nonseries works??

  3. My mother is 80 and checks out the large print books. Yes, she would complain if her library moved the large print to the second floor.
    She has two knee replacements so she has a disability tag for her car. Believe it or not there are only two disability parking spaces in front of our local library. I smile every time she tells me ‘I gotta get to the library early -when it opens — before all the old people use up the disability parking spaces’.

  4. Do you know how hard it is to clean the little compressed marshmallows off of a computer screen when they come flying out of your mouth at 200 miles per hour following a laugh/snort thing??

  5. We’re running out of room too!! Trust me…you can shift & move & shift but there’s never enough room! However, it is a good sign~people love a good selection!

  6. You really have something there… should I look for your article in the next issue of American Libraries? 🙂 Great collection development trick!

  7. Too bad you can’t do what I do with my personal library, which is simply to stack books on the floor, on the kitchen counter, in the bathroom, double-racked, in baskets…

  8. Your solution is awesome!!

    The library my Mom works in is housed in, get ready, a tiny log cabin. Talk about lack of shelf space! ( I need to get a picture of it for you. It is the most adorable library I’ve ever seen.)

  9. That’s too funny. I’ll have to remember that te next time we get crunched for space. Oh well, can’t buy any more books on (insert legal practice area here) – no room.

  10. I agree with the other commenters that mentioned Mr. King – send him upstairs. He’s too prolific for his own good, anyway. ;o)

  11. but i like mr. king.

    i went to my local libary this weekend. it’s open again after a major renovation. they have a lot of new amenities — wifi for example — but still a lousy knitting book collection.

  12. Leave it to a reference librarian to figure out the answer! We have a set of stacks up front with the new books. My fiction-loving staff just about had kittens when I insisted that nonfic should be on the front and fiction on the back. Patrons still don’t check out much nonfic. *sigh*

  13. I agree that Mr. King should be moved upstairs. His fans shouldn’t be too whiny. ;^)

    What is it about people and flu shot clinics? Wanna hear the story please.

  14. You just need more people to come in and take the books out! Extend the time that you can have the King books checked out?

    A friend of my Mom’s worked in the Indianapolis library. They had to decide which books to take out of circulation for non-readership. Other people agonized and checked records and wrote justifications… One of her colleagues piled the candidates on a cart, rolled it down a ramp, and whatever fell off was out.

  15. Old people complain even if there’s nothing to complain about. I outta know .. my mother-in-law is 86 and boy oh boy she can sure be a pain in the “you know what”. I sure do love her though. She gave me an amazing son.

    Great solution by the way.

  16. Have you considered merging the genre fiction into the rest (after putting appropriate brightly-colored stickers on their spines so everyone can tell them mysteries from the sci fi from the romance from the regular fiction)? It ends up allowing a more flexible shelving arrangement, although you will *certainly* get some complaints.

    And then again you could weed. (I used to work with an 80-yo librarian who could not bear to weed the collection. The romances, and maybe some other sections, were doubled-shelved. Sheesh; the Depression mentality strikes again.)

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