Spring is a time of year in which patrons come, grab their books, print their tax forms and fishing licenses, and rush back outside. The book publishing cycle favors Fall releases, so there aren’t many highly anticipated new releases right now. We see less of our grownup regulars as they go on vacations to break out of the winter doldrums, and less of our kid regulars as they hunker down to complete end-of-the-year school projects. This isn’t to say we aren’t busy. March was a record-setting month for Libby (1,115 loans), Kanopy (46 loans) and our Gale research databases (149 full-text article retrievals). Traditional circulation wasn’t too shabby either at 2,146 physical loans. But it’s an quiet kind of busy.
What do we do when it is quiet? Re-arrange everything!
Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be like the time I tried parsing romance and mysteries into their own genre categories and nobody could find anything for a month. In fact, you won’t see much change at all in the adult collection layout unless you look closely at spine labels and catalog entries–we’re cleaning those up so that everything matches and every book has a clear indicator of it’s exact location in the collection. As things are now, we have to put books in special stacks depending on whether they are going to the attic, basement, or storytime collections, and the spine label scheme makes it hard to tell the difference between some formats. When we are done with this project, you’ll be able to literally throw everything in the Library into one big pile and anyone who knows their letters and numbers will be able to put it back in perfect order just by looking at the spine labels. It will be beautiful! But that’s not even the exciting part!
Since the beginning of time (or at least 1903), the Library has had an adult collection and a kids collection. At some point, a young adult collection created to cater to older teens and tweens. But as anyone who has kids or has ever been one knows, there is a huge difference between the reading abilities and interests of a 4 year old and an 8 year old. Or an 8 year old and a 12 year old. Or any year old and any other year old. Cramming all material for “kids” into one collection has bothered me for a long time. It leads to awkward situations where My First Letters and Letters from the Holocaust can coexist on the same shelf, or Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is sandwiched between picture books addressing death, divorce, and addiction.
I want readers of all ages to be able to come into the Library and find a collection that suits them, and I am done directing middle schoolers to a nonfiction collection that they have to share with kindergardeners. It is condescending, and there is no better way to kill someone’s love of reading. So we are taking our current three collections (Juvenile, Young Adult, and Adult) and turning them into 5:
- E – Early Readers: infants through kindergarten
- J – Juvenile: first through fourth grade
- Y – Youth: fifth through eighth grade
- T – Teen: ninth through twelfth grade
- A – Adult: people like us, arguably
Of course, this means taking a look at every single item in the collection, evaluating it’s reading and appeal level, re-classifying it, and dressing it up with a new spine label. This is some serious cataloging, folks. It will take time. Please be patient as we undertake this because things will be getting shuffled around until we find a way to make sure every collection finds a good landing place that will make it intuitive to navigate and allow it space to grow.
We’ve been working on it for almost two months already and have reprocessed 8,435 items. We still have 13,399 to go, so farewell for now. I need to get back to work. Stay safe everyone.