Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bellview library reshelving project

Book range, made up of sections of shelving in Bellview library

Among my efforts to provide outstanding service to customers in Bellview library, I recently completed a major reshelving project amidst the library’s daily routines.

To put this work in context, I want to refer readers to an overview of library shelving by “Rach,” a library technician in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who blogs at Living in the Library World. I agree with Rach that “Shelving and shelfwork is critical to the efficiency and effectiveness of any library.”

Briefly, the shelf is the basic unit of storage in a library and it is held in place between two uprights. When shelves are hung in a vertical series, they form a “section” or “bay,” and when a number of sections are lined up side-by-side and attached together, that group of sections is called a “range.”

Credit: Living in the Library World
Materials are arranged using a block arrangement: “The typical pattern of shelving is from left to right, from the top shelf down, section by section, and range by range.” (Refer to diagram.)

This block arrangement makes sense from a shelver’s perspective. I pre-sort books onto a cart in order as they go on the shelves, and I can then move along the range in an orderly fashion, left-to-right, shelving as I go.

The block arrangement also makes sense from the perspective of a borrower. Items nearest each other in sequence are in physical close proximity, making it easy to isolate the call number of the item one is looking for. And like the shelver, the questing patron can move in an orderly fashion through the stacks.

In Bellview library, the informational books -- shelved by Dewey Decimal Number -- followed the standard block arrangement. The shelf ranges hug three walls: with books shelved left-to-right on each shelf, section by section, range by range, and the numbers get successively larger as one moves around the perimeter of the library.

But the “Beginning Reader,” “Everybody” books, Fiction and Biographies were shelved very differently on double-faced ranges arranged in the middle of the library. Books ran the length across all the top shelves in a range before finally wrapping down to the next level of shelving way back in the first section of shelves.

The effect both when shelving and when looking for items was to add distance and effort, as a person had to move clear across the length of a range, then go all the way back and start over again with each successive row of shelving.

At the end of last school year, I enjoyed the luxury of two work-shifts after school had ended. I spent that time reshelving books in the “Beginning Reader” and “Everybody” ranges, then began tackling Fiction.

I continued my project when the new school year began, carving out pockets of time between daily responsibilities for managing operations in the library: checking materials out to customers, helping them locate items, scanning, sorting and reshelving “returns,” assisting my teacher librarian, putting items on display and processing new arrivals.

Over two or three days I finished my work in Fiction, and I spent a couple of hours reshelving in Biographies just before we left on spring break. My finishing touch with each completed section was to redo shelf-labeling for barcode ranges of items found on each shelf.

The project was likely slow at first, while I mentally worked out logistics; I found that toward the end of my project, I worked with greater speed and efficiency to reorganize books on the shelves.

Rolling carts served to temporarily house books to free up space in which to work. As I reordered items, I moved each section to its new location on the shelves.

When tackling a particularly long range of shelving, I organized books along the counter-top until I could give them their eventual place. Temporary signage cautioned that a “Reshelving Project” was in progress. What a great feeling today, to look around the library and see a consistent pattern to the shelving, one that I feel sure enhances productivity and accessibility of materials.

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