Project: Improving Access and Representation in Our Media Collection

Over the past several months, the catalogers and I have been working on a large relabeling project in our DVD collection. Previously, DVD feature films were processed with a genre label at the top of the spine and an alpha sticker at the bottom, based on the first letter of the first word of the title of the film. Because they’re a highly browsed collection, they weren’t shelved in exact alphabetical order, just grouped by letter.

When our Look Play Listen team explored ways to improve access to the collection, we experimented with alphabetizing the Drama films and then surveyed patrons. A number responded that the alphabetization helped them find the movies they wanted. Others said they hadn’t even noticed. Staff and volunteers, though, said it was hard to keep them in alphabetical order because of the varying fonts, sizes, and colors of the titles on the spines.

Our solution: spine labels! Revolutionary, I know. Following the cuttering rules from virtually all of our other collections, we’ve gone back and added spine labels with the first 8 letters of the titles, and a second cutter if it’s a sequel or a part of a series, like Star Wars or Harry Potter. On the third Friday of each month, the catalogers pulled a genre from the shelves to relabel, and anything that was currently checked out and returned in the weeks to follow were held for relabeling. It’s been a months long process, but we’re finally nearing the end.

This has also provided an opportunity for us to rethink the way we label our films in different languages, as a part of our Collections Diversity and Inclusion initiative. Originally, languages in which we had more than 20 or so titles got a color coded label, and all others got filed under miscellaneous (MISC on the label and in the catalog). To be more inclusive and to make it easier to find languages in the collection, all films in the languages collection will now be filed under the first language listed in the 041 MARC field no matter how many titles we have in that language.

So have the spine labels worked? From a distance, the shelves definitely look much more organized, and we have gotten comments from staff that it’s much easier to find movies. As far as keeping everything in exact alphabetical order, our Materials Handling staff discovered that it’s still much more work than it might be worth. Currently, we’re only attempting to keep our TV shows and the Drama collections in order. Even that seems like it could be a full time job…

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