Monday, August 17, 2009

Gripe of the week: keeping order in the library

Ok, here's the thing. In several of the libraries at which I have worked, I have encountered staff (not necessarily LIBRARIANS) who have balked at putting or keeping books in order.

Now some are easier than others:
Hardbacks on a shelf are easy to see and maintain.
Paperbacks, on the other hand, and the subject of this rant, are more difficult, especially if they are on something other than a traditional shelf. Spin racks, for example.

I was putting the paperback rack in order this morning (yeah, I know it's not my job as Director, but no one else was doing it), and a staff person came over with a handful of books, and saw me working there, and just shoved them in at the end.

Me: "Wait, I'm trying to put these in order here"
Her: "Why? The patrons just mess them up, it's a waste of time to put them in order"
Me: "No, it's job security".
Her: Laughs and walks away.

Now I could mention this at the staff meeting, but I know from experience that this doesn't work. I had exactly the same conversation with staff at TWO previous libraries, at one I was Reference Librarian and the other my first run as Director. At that one, I asked for the hard back books to be put alphabetical by author, and then by title within author. "Oh, that's too hard!" "They will never stay that way!"

They will if you shelve them that way, and shelf read as you shelve.

but it never happened.

So, anyway, what's so wrong with library staff putting books in order as they shelve? Why is it such a mystery? Or am I just being "Monk"-ish, and OCD'ing over it?

Probably the latter. As long as the hard covers are alphabetical by author, is everyone but me happy?

Ok, end rant for the week. New rant next week, as well as goodies through the week.

"The Director"


Kerry said...

You should still bring it up at the staff meeting. Frankly, as a patron if you keep the paperbacks out of some sort of order I will stop looking for books myself and just put reserves on what I want. Then you're going to have to find it anyway. Remind your staff of that.

And add that if you suspect that staff is marking books missing because they are too lazy to look for them or shelve them in the first place, heads will roll as it is the same as stealing.

You're supposed to be leading the library, right? Then do it.

DirectorWho said...

She came up to me after, and said: You know, those paperbacks look really good that way!

I think the problem is solved.

"The Director"

Kewl Librarian 2 said...

I'd still mention it a staff meeting... because the employee should have offered to help you, imho.

I shelved books as an undergrad for over three years and it was my first (p/t) job out of college - shelving books four hours a day. It has long been a pet peeve of mine that we don't hold students and others to shelving as it should be done. That's why they're getting paid.