When patrons visit the Johnson Public Library in Darlington from now on they may notice some changes that include a bit more space on previously overcrowded shelves, making it easier to navigate the shelves as they search for that particular title.
This is an effect of the large-scale book weeding and reorganization process that has been going on throughout the library for some time.
“Hopefully now, people can come in and easily see what’s there more so than before,” said library director, Candi Fitzsimons.
What brought on this library-wide project was the lack of space for the numerous titles housed in the library.
“We’re very lucky to have a great book budget, so we’re constantly getting new books that people want,” said Fitzsimons. “But we’re running out of space, especially when we get a lot of new things every week.”
Fitzsimons explained that when the librarians weed out the book collection they’re looking at a few different things including the condition of a book, the last time it was checked out (if it’s been over five years, the book is up for weeding) and if there are duplicate copies of books that were particularly hot when they first came out, but have since declined in popularity.
“Sometimes it’s hard,” explained Fitzsimons, “but we need to make difficult decisions about what has to go.”
According to Fitzsimons, many libraries across the nation have been going with more of a “bookstore model” when organizing their books, with a local example being Barneveld. Lancaster also plans to follow that model when their new building is built.
“It’s part of my job to market and display our products so that they are more attractive to patrons,” said Fitzsimons.
With the new organizational model and as a result of the weeding project, there is more space on shelves, so that patrons are not overwhelmed by a multitude of books crammed into one shelf. Now some titles can also be more prominently and attractively displayed with ample space for browsing as well.
The biggest change, however, is in the children’s library where the picture books for elementary aged kids and younger are now arranged by topic rather than by the traditional Dewy decimal system and authors’ last names.
“We looked at it from the kids’ point of view and decided that breaking the books down by topics would make more sense for them than to organize the books by author,” explained Fitzsimons, “and since we’ve reorganized the sections, I’ve seen kids going directly to a certain category’s section, because now they know where the books are that they want without having to look for so long.”
Fiction and non-fiction picture books are also now mixed in together under the topic classifications.
Fitzsimons said that reorganizing the children’s books has been a huge process because not only have the books had to be physically moved and rearranged, but the spine labels on each book had to be replaced and librarians now have to get used to a different system of shelving and organizing the books.
“Change is always hard,” said Fitzsimons, “but I think it will be good and make it more fun, especially for the kids, to look for books.”
And while the picture books are now arranged by category, Fitzsimons said that the larger chapter books for children as well as fiction for young adults and adults will stay organized the way they always have been, because people pursuing those titles usually know how to find what they want by authors names.
Fitzsimons said that the next section she would like to tackle and reorganize with the category classification system is the adult non-fiction, since people are typically looking for books about a certain topic in non-fiction. Fitzsimons also plans to combine the library’s small collection of young adult non-fiction with the adult non-fiction collection.
Fitzsimons hopes that this new system will help increase circulation numbers, especially with sections where books don’t get checked out a lot.
According to Fitzsimons there has been a lot of misconception among library patrons and the public, especially with the increased number of books that have been on the sale shelf lately and the large upcoming book sale event to be held Friday, April 25.
“At the book sale people will find things that they’re really excited about and then the books go to a good home versus sitting on our shelves and collecting dust,” said Fitzsimons. “I’m also getting rid of a lot of our older antique books, which just kills me because I’m an antique book collector myself, but people just don’t check them out anymore and we need the space.”
Fitzsimons said that she tried selling some of the older antique books online through antique book websites, but that due to the library’s markings and stamps on the books, they’re essentially not worth anything.
“But to an antique book lover, who doesn’t want to just turn around and sell them, they’ll be a great find and they’ll have a good home,” she added.
The book sale is set for Friday, April 25 all day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the drive through section, so that if it rains the sale can still go on. Cost will be $1 per bag of books.
Fitzsimons explained that the books that are still left over after the sale will be donated to St. Vinny’s, Goodwill or another similar organization.