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, 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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