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Posts Tagged ‘bookstores’

I just wanted to share a quick thought I had this morning about nooks and crannies.  And, no it was not because I was eating an english muffin with nooks and crannies.  Although I do like them, and probably would have preferred one over my morning oatmeal. 

I started out thinking about how people usually feel comfortable in a bookstore, and often less so in libraries.  Myself, I feel more comfortable in a library, but that’s only because I know I’ll get pulled in by the rows of clearance books and will never leave the bookstore… 

Bookstores, even though they are big and open like libraries, have lots of little nooks and crannies where people can be alone while exploring the books.  In libraries I think there’s often a fear of people doing things they shouldn’t in those little nooks and crannies.  Especially in the teen sections – am I right?

So, I got to thinking.  How do the bookstores get away with it?  It’s simple.  There are always bookstore workers wandering around the building.  They’re there to help and also, in a way, to hinder unwanted behaviors – more reasons why roaming librarians or assistants would be a beautiful thing.   Hold up now, that’s not all.   They also have plenty of security cameras around bookstores, just like any retail space.  And, the customers know it.

I know there are currently libraries that have roaming librarians – two that I know of off hand are Skokie Public Library and Indian Trails Public Library.  They have staff that are scheduled to roam around the library looking for people to help.  Those libraries also have security cameras. Not everywhere like in a retail store, but in tempting locations.

So, you’d think maybe if we put the two together – roaming librarians and security cameras we’d have a winning combination.  Although, I think there is one missing component here – we need our customers to know.  What’s the best way to do that without alienating them or using signs they probably won’t notice?  I don’t know. 

Library 2.0 is really all about changing how we serve our customers.  I know this has been pointed out time and time again.  It’s nothing new, but even though it seems an obvious change all libraries can make it’s not being done enough.  So, I feel it’s worth mentioning again.

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Okay, I’ll admit it. My initial reaction when I heard the news of the Maricopa library dumping Dewey. I was immediately aghast, and against it. My instinct wanting to keep Dewey said, “Well, sure we have always talked about needing better signs to help find books in Non Fiction, but that’s all we need – no need to take away the call numbers too! How will anyone ever manage to find a specific book in a whole field full of ‘History’ books.”

As I pondered this and wondered how in the world the Maricopa’s new system could possibly work better, I wandered around the Net reading all about it. Then I found it – Gather No Dust: Doing it without Dewey – the blog that spelled it all out for me, and I felt really silly for not seeing ‘it’ sooner, as blatant as it was right there in front of me.

Even with better signs the Dewey numbers will still ‘scare’ patrons. Sometimes they won’t even consider going in to that part of the library. I don’t think it’s really that it’s hard, just that it’s very unfamiliar to many people. Now Maricopa has taken a layout and format that is already familiar to everyone, and essentially reformatted their library. It seems to work kind of like genre sections in Fiction, but instead of Horror you have Cooking or Gardening-Perennials. I like it. I think it could work really well.

I do have one suggestion that I think would help it be even more familiar to patrons and also make it easier to find things in a larger collection. At Maricopa they use subject labels and shelve them alphabetically by title – why not add the author’s last name to the label and shelve them the same way fiction is shelved. Browsing is still fully possible, and consistency always makes things easier.

Now how do we get everyone else in the world to realize this is a good idea?

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