Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nonfiction Redo

As a manager, circulation is a big number that I have to take into account.  We use it when purchasing, weeding, and making major decisions.  Every year I was running our juvenile nonfiction circulation stats and they kept dropping (anywhere from 8-20% per year).  Our overall circulation during the same time was not having the same drastic decreases.  One year was a 3% drop, while another was a 19% increase.  Things were good overall, but this section needed some attention.  The hard part was that I couldn't weed it down too much as many of the books are used for school and reports.  After a year of watching data, we knew that we needed to change.

No big project should ever be started without some research.  We looked at other big nonfiction changes around the country and talked to libraries.  They were getting amazing results-some circulation was even up 20-30%!

Some links that may help you in your research include:
Decisions, Decisions
After your research, you have to decide what you are going to do and how to do it.  Our challenge was that we have 3 locations-a Main Library and 2 branches.  Both branches interfiled their adult and juvenile nonfiction.  Whatever we chose to test out had to work for both children and adults.

We decided that a modified version of BISAC was our best bet.  We went mostly with the adult subject headings, but there were a couple of children's ones that we needed to add in (ex. Fairy Tales and Folklore).  There were a couple of places where we combined subjects or made up headings to suit our needs (ex. Literature).  We also wanted to pare down our list to just the headings that we needed.  My boss originally wanted 15, but we negotiated up to 35.  If we were just reclassifying children's, we could have gone with a smaller number.  

The Work
Once the decisions are all made, you are set to get to work.  My boss let us hire a college student who was home for the summer to do all of our relabeling.  Our ILS allows us to make bulk changes so we were able to change whatever was relabeled on a given day.  This took 2 months of 1 person working 10 hours a week to change a 20,000 item collection.

Once the entire section was relabeled, it was time to move the books.  If I were doing it again, I would pull a bunch of people to move them over a couple of days.  It took 2 of us 3 weeks to move them all.  This was also the beginning of our heavy outreach season so it wasn't the best time for a shifting project.

The Final Result 
Want to see what this looks like?  Each section has a sign at the beginning that identifies the section.  All spine labels in this section (Science) would start with SCIENCE to help with shelving.  Once in a section, the call numbers are filed by Dewey number.

We always start new sections at the top of a bay of shelves to make it easier on the customers.  We also added a lot of face-outs-all of the top shelves in the nonfiction section are now face-outs.

Instead of Dewey numbers on our endcaps, we now list sections.

What Do Our Customers Think?
We've now had this new organization system in place for 4 months.  We are pulling our circulation stats every 3 months to monitor how it is doing over this year.  After our first quarter, juvenile nonfiction is up 18% in circulation!  

It is not uncommon for us to now see kids sitting in the middle of aisles with a stack of books that they are perusing.  We are seeing less nonfiction location questions from kids because they are better able to find their materials between the signage and the face-outs.  I will admit that the parents are less than thrilled their first time that they have to find a juvenile nonfiction book.  I get a lot of "What have you done?"  After I explain that we are a trial for 1 year because the kids just were not finding the materials and that now they are, they come around.  It does take some librarian time showing people how to find their items in the OPAC and what they should write down to find their items on the shelf.

The above is part of a letter from one of our local teachers telling us how much she loved the new organization.  It made my day!

What's Next?
We are going to keep collecting circulation statistics through mid-September before any future decisions are made.  We were a test site for this project so other departments/locations are watching to see what happens.


  1. What a fantastic result. Well done you. Our librarian has done a similar thing in our library. We haven't gone to the same extent as you though in terms of re-labelling. We're still with just Dewey on the spine but have subject signage and lots of face out and its great to see the books fly off the shelves.

  2. This looks great; I do hope your circulation stats are continuing to climb! The face-outs on the top shelf are more than just a finishing touch, they're really inviting.


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