Posted in Cataloging, Collection Development, Poetry

Poetry on the Move

We’re trying something crazy and new at my library: we’ve broken poetry books out of the 800’s nonfiction! Is that crazy? Is it new? Well, when asked in an informal Facebook poll on the Library Think Tank group, 114 people responded that at their libraries, poetry is still in nonfiction. Two said they have a separate section. So…maybe?

Libraries that have completely ditched Dewey could say, though, that their poetry has its own section. We’re not going that far. My catalogers would revolt. But they are up for trying this new home for poetry, especially since the way we’ve chosen to do it didn’t cause a ton of work. It was actually accomplished in less than a few hours!

First, why are we doing this?
Our selector for the adult collection has long wanted to better highlight poetry, and he thought breaking it out of the 800’s would accomplish that. When he brought it up about a year and a half ago, we weren’t quite ready for it. However, we came up with a compromise and added purple labels above the spine labels so they would stand out better on the shelves.

Earlier this year, we visited the offices of Andrews McMeel, a publishing company based in Kansas City that specializes in poetry. You may be familiar with their best seller, Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. They said poetry is kind of having a moment and libraries could take advantage. That got us thinking again.

Dewey, or don’t we?
When our selector suggested phasing out our MP3 audiobook collection, he brought up breaking out poetry again. Since we’d have the space, we thought why not? But part of the discussion was whether we would keep poetry organized by Dewey or relabel the books and shelve them by the last name of the poet, like in fiction.

We had arguments for both. People who just want to browse poetry or are looking for a particular poet might find it easier if everything was under the poet’s name. Dewey, however, provides extra organization, breaking the collection into geographic regions and time periods. But wouldn’t it be confusing to have this random Dewey-organized section outside of the nonfiction stacks?

Ultimately, it was the fact that we’ve broken other collections out and then later refiled them in the past that helped make the decision. If, say, five or ten years down the line, a new selector or collection management team wants to refile poetry back into the 800s, it would be much easier if we keep the Dewey. So we did.

A quick and easy move
Since we already had the purple poetry labels on the books and we opted to stick with Dewey, we weren’t going to have to do another relabeling project. It would just be an easy update in the ILS using a global item modification wizard where you can quickly update location and classification codes.

We pulled all available books with poetry labels off the shelves, scanned them through for the update, and shelved them in the new location. Then our cataloging librarian used the new location and classification to single out and export the MARC records, edited the local call numbers with MarcEdit, and overlaid the edited records with a special report that also updated the item call numbers.

For everything that’s currently checked out, our Materials Handling team will send down any item our sorter doesn’t send to the proper bin, and a cataloger will manually update the location, classification and call number.

Here’s to the road less traveled
So far, at least on the Facebook and Twitter posts announcing the move, we’ve had a positive response. But that’s just social media. I’m sure we’ll get some feedback once our poetry regulars wander into the stacks where it used to be and realize things aren’t as they once were. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Posted in Cataloging, Collections Diversity and Inclusion

One World, Many Languages

When he accepted the Oscar for Foreign Language Film for Roma, Alfonso Cuaron said that he grew up watching foreign language films like Citizen Kane and Jaws and The Godfather. Since the creation of this category in 1956, it’s been pretty clear that the Academy Awards is “America first” or “English first.” Though Alfonso’s comments may not affect much change at the Oscars, it definitely got me thinking about our work toward inclusiveness at the library.

In my last post, I shared about our months-long relabeling project to improve access and representation in our DVD collection. In addition to discontinuing the “miscellaneous” language category and filing the films under their specific languages, we’ve taken this opportunity to update the umbrella term for this specific section of the media collection. Instead of “Foreign,” the section will now be labeled “World.”

Why are we doing this? By definition, “foreign” implies otherness, strangeness, and outside-ness. When we were discussing this collection in our Diversity and Inclusion task force, we immediately knew we wanted a word that didn’t designate English as the default. We considered “International,” but with the size of our labels, we thought that would be weird to abbreviate so it could fit. So we chose “World” instead. An added benefit, unlike international, “world” encompasses languages that aren’t associated with a national entity. It’s also consistent with other world language collections in the library.

How are patrons going to find this collection in the catalog? Because the Academy still uses “foreign films,” and we assume patrons will still use it when searching our catalog, we have decided to leave the 650_0 “Foreign films” subject heading in the records for now. However, we are also adding the local subject heading, “World films.” Otherwise, the collection won’t be moving physically, so we’re pretty sure the regular browsers of these films will find them with no trouble.

It’s a small change, but now we hope this collection won’t imply to people who speak certain languages that they don’t belong. Because everyone belongs at our library.

Posted in Cataloging, Collections Diversity and Inclusion

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…

Posted in Cataloging, Collection Development

Death to the NEW Sticker!

If there’s one thing librarians love (other than books, of course), it’s stealing borrowing ideas from our peers. Last fall, the catalogers and I took a trip over to the Johnson County Library central resource library to learn how they work with SirsiDynix’s Symphony. We had just migrated to this new ILS, and were hoping for more insight into the strange new world. What we didn’t plan on walking away with was a plan to kill our NEW stickers.

The bane of NEW stickers
This is probably familiar to many libraries that feature their new items on a shelf separate from the rest of the collection. In our experience, one product simply didn’t stick. The edges curled up and eventually they fell off. Then items marked new in our catalog found their way to the regular shelves and caused frustration for those trying to find them.

Another product proved to be exactly the opposite. These were so sticky you pretty much had to scrape them off with a putty knife. Staff responsible for maintaining the new materials shelves noted that removing these stickers was too time consuming, plus we were spending more and more money on these adhesive remover pens everyone preferred. Imagine all the broken fingernails and the tenacious stench of goo gone.

With these frustrations in mind, it was to our catalogers’ delight when they discovered the absence of stickers on the books on Johnson County’s new shelf! Once back at LPL, our lead cataloger immediately began devising a plan to phase them out. It took some time, but with the blessing of our Collection Management Committee and the leadership team, September 5th is our cutoff date!

Two birds, one label
An added benefit in the plan to kill the new stickers is cutting down on the number of labels we print for the books. In addition to the spine label, we have been printing a second call number label with the date of accession for the first fly page. This label was an indicator to collection development staff for weeding purposes. Our lead cataloger came up with the solution of printing a 4 digit MMYY date code on the spine label under the call number. This will help both those who remove books from the new shelf and our collection development staff.

Some sticky situations
Because we use a sorting machine, we had to spend some time thinking about the way new materials are sorted into bins. Currently, new adult books are sorted into a bin on one side of our massive sorter, and new children’s and YA books are sorted into the same bins as the non-new books on the other side of the machine. For the latter, the new sticker is a clear indication that the items belong on the new shelf. The solution was simple though: all new books will now be sorted into the same bin. Unfortunately, this will increase some foot traffic, but our Materials Handling staff was willing to make the change.

Another thing that complicated our plan: new adult fiction titles check out for 14 days instead 28 like the rest of the collection. Up to this point, we’ve been using a “14 Day Loan” sticker, which some patrons have come to rely on — they know which books they should read first. Our Readers’ Services team was rightly concerned about these going away since they work directly with patrons who may express frustration.

Our solution? More of a “let’s wait and see what happens.” We’ll encourage patrons to look for signage on the shelves about 14 day items — new adult fiction books (including genres) are the only new items that are limited to 14 day loans. Patrons do have the option of printing receipts and checking their account online. And we also send courtesy reminders by email before items are due. We’re going to give it a couple of months to see how people respond.

Getting the word out
To get staff ready for the change, we made sure everyone got to see the new spine labels, and I sent out an email with a few anticipated FAQs. For patrons, our marketing coordinator put together this fantastic video (below) and posted it on Facebook and Twitter. It will also get a mention in our weekly newsletter. So far, we’ve had a pretty good response — at least on Social Media!

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