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 Collections Diversity and Inclusion

Taking Action: Collections Diversity & Inclusion

My library’s leadership team has been talking a lot about equity, diversity and inclusion. With these discussions, I’ve made it one of my goals this year to lead a closer look at the library’s collection to see how well we are meeting the needs and interests of our patrons at the same time as reflecting the diversity of our community, and to see where we can and need to improve.

Last year, members of our Readers’ Services staff and I took Library Journal’s Diversity and Cultural Competency Training online course, which helped in preparing us for this initiative. Sessions covered what a diverse and inclusive collection is, how to do a diversity audit of the collection, and how to recognize stereotypes, tropes and cultural appropriation. They’re offering a similar course this year, Equity in Action: Taking Your Library’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to the Next Level.

Now, we’re taking that action. This is a broad initiative that affects a number of departments, so that means, Yay! New Task Force! With a representation of department coordinators, back end and front line staff, we’ll be able to fine tune the focus of the initiative.

Here’s the charge we’re starting with:

  1. To gauge how diverse and inclusive our collections are currently
  2. To review possible problematic collections/access points (i.e. labeling, call numbers, subject headings in the catalog) and develop improvement plans (involving affected departments/staff)
  3. Provide (some) direction for student interns who will be working with the collections to help with this initiative (i.e. performing a diversity audit, reviewing diverse book lists for purchase suggestions)

We’ll have our first meeting later this month to decide on exact initial direction and focus. Whether we’ll do a complete collection diversity audit, adopt new cataloging practices with radical subject headings, or ditch outdated classification systems all together is yet to be seen, but I’ll plan to share our progress here. Stay tuned!


The “Wak’ó Mujeres Phụ nữ Women Mural” was recently completed on the Lawrence Public Library’s south wall by local artists to illuminate and honor the stories of women and girls of color in the community
Posted in Library Journey

New Year, New Website

I’m starting 2019 with a fresh new blog and website, and I’m excited to get back in to sharing about my library life! I’ve migrated all my old content, and I’m hoping to share more about my adventures in Cataloging and Collection Development and all my other side gigs. But first, I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on some highlights from 2018:

2018-Leslie-B-Knope-Award-high-res-connectionsELGL’s Leslie B. Knope Best Public Library Competition
A great start to the year, the Lawrence Public Library was nominated for the Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) Leslie B. Knope Best Public Library Award in January. In a bracket style competition that lasted through March, we made it to the Final Four, but were eliminated in our pairing against the Pueblo City-County Library who went on to win the award. What was just as good as, if not better, than winning, though, was all the amazing, supportive comments from the community that were submitted as part of the competition.

Circulating Board Game Collection
After months long planning and exploring a “Library of Things” at LPL, we launched a pilot collection of circulating board games in March. I shared about the concerns we had about the collection, but things have gone very well so far and we’ve only had a handful come back missing parts or damaged (and just two that haven’t come back at all). I still hear comments from patrons who love that they can checkout games.

Librarian Problems in Peoria, Illinois
In early October, I was invited to share my Librarian Problems presentation for the afternoon keynote at the Peoria Public Library staff in-service. Before I spoke, I got to enjoy lunch with the staff and learn about their system. It’d been about a year since I’d done a keynote, so I was a bit nervous, but I got a lot of laughs and had a great time. It reminded me of how much I enjoy speaking and connecting with librarians all over.

KLA/MPLA Joint Conference
This year, I got involved with the Kansas Library Association’s publicity committee and have been helping manage the Facebook and Twitter accounts. A major focus was the joint conference with the Mountain Plains Public Library Association in October. In addition to taking photos and sharing updates for KLA, I ran a user group session for others who oversee their library’s social media pages. After attending several informative sessions and networking with other Kansas librarians, I felt like it was one of the most valuable conference experiences I’ve had.

Chris Traeger List
Finally, in December, I was honored to learn someone had nominated me for ELGL’s Chris Traeger List, which recognizes 100 top influences in local government. I am 100% certain that this is literally the nicest thing that’s happened to me. I promise I won’t let it get to my head, but it’s nice to know I’m making a noticeable difference in the community, and it’s only served to remind me of how much I love my job and being a librarian.