Are you a Sean or a Joe? Re-shelving Books in the Library

Posted: March 8, 2019 9:00:00 AM CST

Why do we ask you to put the books back on the cart instead of re-shelving them yourself? This is an excellent question. You're thinking, "If I re-shelve it myself, it will be right where I need it tomorrow; or, it'll be available for the next person." You obviously know where you pulled it from. You can see the gap right there. Also, maybe you’re saving the staff from having to do the work of putting it back; so really, you're just being extra helpful.

We get it; and, while we appreciate the considerate efforts, we actually have multiple reasons for you to put that book on the return carts scattered throughout the library and not back where you pulled it from on the shelf.

Reason One:

The first and most important reason is tracking usage. We keep a count of how many times that book is used, both when it's checked out and when it's just used in the library. We then use this information to make decisions about which books to keep, which books to remove, and which sections to order more books for. If we can't tell which part of the collection is being used, we have a more difficult time working through these important decisions…AND, may even decide to remove a very useful book from the collection.

Reason Two:

The second reason we want to re-shelve the books for you is that it helps us maintain the order of our collection. When we are up there putting books back, we notice when other books are out of place and can correct the problem. It gives us a chance to work with the books and move them around so they aren't packed too tight on the shelf. Confession time: we love our books, so we're happy to have any excuse (like re-shelving) to hang around them.

Reason Three:

The third reason is…books are sneaky little fellas! There have been a number of times when I have pulled a book from a shelf, turned away for a moment and the books on either end of the gap I left start slowly creeping and sliding. By the time I turn back to the shelf, the gap that was once obvious, isn't quite as obvious anymore. At that point, I have a 50/50 chance of slipping the book I pulled back into the right spot. Luckily, I know my call number system, so those tricksy books can’t fool me. We don't expect you guys to take the time to double check call number order or (let's be real) have the call number system memorized to the extent we do. Saying that, let us do the work of getting that book back in the right order, drop it off on the nearest return cart and go on your merry way.

And now, to wrap this up, a PSA…Please! For the love of libraries everywhere! Do not abandon a defenseless book on any random shelf you happen to pass when you realize you no longer need it. Many a times a book has been separated from its shelf-family, longing, and dreaming of the day it's recovered and returned. Show our books some love; place it on a cart so we can record tracking usage, make sure it re-joins its family, and ensure that it is ready for the next student who needs it. Consider it a favor to us (and the book).

Finally, if you ever find yourself having trouble locating a book, come on down to the Circulation Desk and we'll be more than happy to help you out!

Amie Cuvelier, Library Services Coordinator


By: Amie Cuvelier

Category: Behind the Scenes