Monday, December 18, 2006

Behold my mighty book fort!

As the semester winds down, you'll inevitably have a day when a whole boatload of books are coming off your hold shelves. Today was that sort of day. Now here in the Reading Room we have two kinds of hold shelves: one for non-circulating items which have not yet been picked up by the patrons who ordered them from remote storage, and another shelf which patrons can check materials out to in order to consult for extended periods of time -- like having a study carrel, only in the reading room itself.

While some mornings I will do the weeding for the former hold shelf, I usually prefer weeding the latter on account of the fact that it gives me a chance to do a little cleanup as I go. Whereas our internal hold shelf is touched only by staff, the other is open to patrons, so there's often a lot of creative filing being done during the day by those with no respect for alphabetical order. In order to preserve the privacy of patrons using the hold shelf, we file their books by initials only, and shelve them spine-down in the room so as to discourage browsing.

For some reason the "last initial first" system of filing bewilders more people than I would have expected, and although it is clear that we prefer that the books be shelved spine-down every morning I have to reorient a goodly percentage of them which have been turned upright by the patron for their own convenience. But that's not nearly as bad as those who shelve rare or non-circulating materials spine-up, putting all sorts of undue stress on what's left of the binding as gravity pulls the freehanging text block downward. I wish we could put flags in the books when patrons do things like this:

"Shelving books spine-up makes Melville Dewey cry!"

Of course I should talk, as when I take tons of books off the shelves as I did this morning I have little choice but to pile materials up in a precarious wall of books, some of which would scarcely survive a fall were my impromptu book fort to come crashing down all of a sudden. The worst is when someone from our Preservation department comes up to drop something off or ask me a question, only to find me peering out from behind the Great Wall of Books™. While bookquakes are in fact quite uncommon -- librarians I believe have a sixth sense for such things as stacking books so as to minimize the chance of toppling -- I always live in fear of aiding and abetting the high crime of bibliocide.

1 comment:

SockPuppet said...

Berkeley Public Library shelves books spine up! It makes my head hurt.