Top Shelf Magic

Yesterday a little bit of magic happened in our Picture Book collection.

When I started the new job 14 months ago, I was bummed to see that area jammed tight with books. We had a huge collection and too few shelves. The result was that an extra shelf had been added in every range so many of those beautiful picture books - all so tall and free - were shelved turned down so their spines were impossible to read. They couldn't tell or shout or whisper their name to browsers. They were hidden among their spine-out-look-at-me-sistah shelf buddies. And no one wanted them.

They were hard to shelve, hard to find and gave the shelves a raggedy,unkempt look. Families browsing for books passed them by. They were most uninviting, poor books, through no fault of their own!

Everyone in the Youth Department saw the problem. The need to weed was strong. But as a resource library for a system, we had to be careful on how we went about the process. We made a couple of decisions:
  • We would start buying series picture books in paperback format only (Berenstain Bears; Clifford; Little Critter; superheroes; Barbie; Thomas the Tank Engine etc) to free up the shelves for the hardcover collection.
  • We would weed heavily and downsize duplicate copies of materials that were not high demand.
  • We would re-purpose display shelving, record bins and anything we could find to give us enough room to remove those cramped extra shelves and spread those picture books in this makeshift shelving so they could all shine.
The weeding was ongoing and we created the paperback collection to the delight of users throughout the past year. We were scheduled to do the rearrangement in the fall of 2009. But something kept me from moving forward on that piece of the plan. Too much, too complex, too hard for the patrons, too hard for our shelving staff. Then yesterday, it hit me. We had weeded enough! If we squeezed just a little, gave up a little face out display on each shelf and just did displays on top the shelves, we could remove that extra shelf and maybe the books would fit - all spine up, spine out.

So staffers pitched in and literally shifted the entire collection of picture books in a day. The extra shelves were removed and all the books fit!

Now they parade their beautiful titles to everyone, all standing up side by side. They look amazing, inviting and eager to leap into the hands of our readers. As the collection that everyone sees first when entering the department, we have transformed the experience of coming into our space. Now that is real magic!

1 comment:

  1. How exciting! I'm glad it worked out and that your shelves can now share their content loudly with the world.