Eds Note: Staying somewhat in the realm of education, Phyllis steps in with a discussion starter about how to find things at the library. When you think about it, arranging a large group of materials in some kind or pattern or order becomes a huge pain. File by author or subject? Lump all the mystery books together or interfile them with the rest of the fiction books? (Ask my mother about this!) And Phyllis has even more questions — and you can give your opinion by taking the survey at the end of the article, or dropping a comment in the box. And I have absolutely no idea who this Bill guy is that she is referring to.
By: Phyllis Christensen
Bill emailed me at the library with a comment about some changes that Marathon County Public Library recently made in the way compact disks are arranged. We used to have a separate section for “New CDs”. Much to his dissatisfaction, we eliminated that section, much to his dissatisfaction. Here is my response to his comments about the library eliminating that section.
Welcome to an on-going conversation about materials should be arranged! New items are one of those areas where the library can’t please everyone. The opposing points of view all have validity.
We (MCPL) had been getting numerous complaints that the “new” CDs weren’t really new. After all, how can Phil Ochs, who has been dead for years, have anything new?! In reality, the “New CD” collection were newly acquired CDs. People who check out music seem to choose more by artist or genre than by date released or acquired. Having to look in more than one place to find all the Tom Paxton recordings was a pain. In response to the way most customers search for recordings, we decided to unify the entire CD collection, old, new, and newly acquired are intermingled.
People use books differently than they use CDs. In that area, more people request the newest book by Danielle Steel or James Patterson. We are leaving those in a separate area. The new fiction and new non-fiction areas are really “newly acquired” instead of newly released.
Another discussion that is constantly going on as the library tries to make it easier for customers to find what they want is whether we should intershelve hardcover, paperback, and large type books? We question whether the audiobooks should be on the same shelves as the paper books? The argument is made that someone who wants to read a title often does not care what format it’s in. Either paper or audiobook is totally acceptable. In my personal reading, I’m on the other side of the discussion. For fiction, I usually want only paperbacks, and a beat-up paperback is more appealing than a new one. I will take a hardcover only if I’m desperate to read the story. My books often get thrown in a pack, and I don’t want the extra weight and space of a hardcover.
So, how do you use the library? Would a book on CD be as acceptable as a hardcover book? Would you like paperbacks and hardcover books together? (please say no!) What about videos? Should we put VHS and DVD’s together? Fiction books are traditionally arranged according to the author’s last name. Would you like them arranged differently? Like all the mysteries together, all the adventure stories together, all the romances together? How do we tell a mystery from an adventure or horror story? How can we to make it easy for you to find what you want?
Comment here or click to take a short survey about how you use call numbers to find books at the library.