Thursday, January 29, 2009

Basic library procedures: Simple book repairs

There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house.”
Joe Ryan

Book repair
Rebinding a book is not always the most cost effective option for preserving material. Simple repair techniques can extend the circulation can extend the circulation life of the book if they are done with care using the proper materials. Mending is an option for items that have:

  • Torn or loose pages.
  • Weak or damaged hinges.
  • Loose signatures.
  • Worn covers.
  • Moderately damaged spines.

Repair considerations
Just as with binding an item, some thought should be given as to whether the item should actually be repaired. Since even simple repairs require time, effort, and the use of library supplies, there are some questions to consider before beginning a repair.

  1. Is the item worth keeping in the collection?
    Again, this is a key question. Consider how essential the book is to the library’s collection, whether the item can easily be replaced, and whether there is another copy. If the item is heavily used, rebinding may be the better option.
  2. What is the physical condition of the item?
    Is the item reasonably clean with no excessive damage to pages? If pages are missing or if they are flimsy, brittle, badly torn, or excessively marked up the book may not be worth repairing.
  3. What is the desired outcome of the repair?
    How long does the library intend to keep the book? Is the repair only temporary until something better can be done? What are the consequences of the chosen repair?
  4. How much time is available for the repair?
    How much time is there for the repair? As you will learn, it takes time to properly execute a repair. Items often have to be left overnight to dry. It may be better to set aside the item until there are other similarly damaged items.
  5. Personnel available for the repair?
    Who makes the decision about the repair? Am I the only person that can do this repair? Can someone else help me? Are there steps I can leave to others?
  6. Funds available for this repair?
    How much money will it cost for the repair? Is the repair affordable? Do I have the necessary supplies?
  7. Do I have the expertise for this repair?
    What techniques do you know for executing this repair? Is the repair beyond my abilities? Should I ask for outside help?

    Generally an item is repaired in-house because of the simplicity of the problem, the economy of the process, and the expediency of getting the item back in use.

Basic tools and supplies
A designated work area for in-house repair is helpful for conducting repairs. All materials and supplies are readily accessible and no other process needs to be interrupted to conduct work. A clean, well organized workspace increases efficiency and helps you to conduct an effective and well-done repair. A large table, proper lighting, and an adjustable stool or chair are helpful. In addition, an area to store repair supplies will facilitate work.
Tools and supplies do not have to be a costly investment. A core of basic supplies might include:

Tool Purpose
Plastic or bone folderUsed to press loose pages into place, rub tape down flat, or score hinges. Bone is best but of course more expensive than plastic.
BrushesUsed to brush on glue. A small brush with a flat tip is useful. Try to find a brush with bristles that are securely crimped so that they do not shed into your repairs.
Long wooden sticksUsed to apply glue in difficult to reach places (e.g. hinge repair). Should be thin and with rounded tip.
X-Acto knifeUsed to make sharp accurate cuts (e.g. on card stock).
RulerHandy for making accurate measurements.
Wooden dowelsIn combination with elastic bands, are used to press book.
Rubber bandsUsed to keep book tightly closed and pressed so that repair dries properly.
ScissorsHandy for cutting tape and wax paper.
T-Square or TriangleConvenient for making accurate angular or perpendicular measurements and cuts.


Supply Purpose
Glue (plastic adhesive)Used for many simple repairs. Should be polyvinyl acetate (PVA). Avoid using other types such as rubber cement because they are harmful to books.
Cloth tapeUsed for strengthening spines.
Transparent mending tapeUsed to repair torn pages. Do not use scotch tape. Should be archival quality mending tape that will not bleed or yellow.
Double stitched binder tapeUsed for refastening contents of books to cover. Two strips of heavily gummed gray cloth sewn with gumming on the outside.
Hinge tapeFor repairing or re-inforcing book hinges and spines.
Heavy duty transparent book tapeFor reinforcing worn covers.
Card stockFor rebacking worn cover. Should be thin enough to be cut fairly easily but still provide reinforcement.
Wax paperUsed to protect pages from glue after repair is completed and while drying.

Type of repairs
For this module, students are required to watch the videotape, “Mending: a practical guide to book repair”. The videotape provides visual details on the procedures for some basic book repairs. These repairs are intended to keep material functional and circulating. There are other repair techniques that are more reversible. Such repairs may be more desirable with materials that are rare or need special preservation techniques. The Website, A Simple Book Repair Manual, provides details of these techniques if you are interested in learning more. The following repair procedures are demonstrated in the videotape.

Type of repair Supplies and tools Repair steps
Torn page
  • Transparent mending tape
  • Scissors
  1. Unfold edge of tear.
  2. Match and smooth out page.
  3. Tape both sides of tear.
  4. Trim close to page edge.
Loose page
  • Liquid plastic adhesive
  • Wax paper
  1. Apply bead of adhesive.
  2. Insert loose page.
  3. Insert wax sheets.
  4. Close book and press.
Weak hinge
  • Liquid plastic adhesive
  • Wax paper
  • Applicator stick
  • Wooden dowels
  • Plastic folder
  • Rubber bands
  1. Open hinge.
  2. Apply liquid adhesive.
  3. Repeat at opposite end.
  4. Insert wax paper.
  5. Close book and press.
Torn cover hinge
  • Liquid plastic adhesive
  • Wax paper
  • Single stitched binder tape
  • Wooden dowels
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic folder
  • Hinge tape
  1. Attach single-stitched binder tape to contents.
  2. Attach contents to cover.
  3. Reinforce hinge.
Worn spine
  • Light weight card stock
  • Scissors
  • Light plastic adhesive
  • Straight edge
  • Cloth tape
  • Hinge tape
  • Single edge razor blade/X-acto knife
  1. Cut card stock to size.
  2. Cut tape to size.
  3. Trim tape for folding.
  4. Set the spine.
Worn edges/covers
  • Cloth tape
  • Heavy duty transparent book tape
  • Scissors

Worn edges.

  1. Cut transparent tape to length.
  2. Fold over cover.
  3. Smooth tape.

Worn covers.
1. Cut tape in 2" squares.
2. Place tape over cover.
3. Clip two 45-degree angle cuts to corner point.
4. Fold the two pieces over the corner.
5. Smooth tape into place.

Frayed corners
  • Liquid plastic adhesive
  • Wax paper

1. Fan out frayed edges.
2. Apply liquid adhesive.
3. Squeeze adhesive out.
4. Fold wax paper over.
5. Let dry overnight.

Appendix 1 of this module also includes a copy of Mending books: protecting paperbacks, magazines that provides information on mending techniques and supplies. It is available online at

Additional resources
The following references are not required reading for this module. They are provided in the event you would like additional background material. All materials listed are available from the RRC library.
Greenfield, Jane. Basic book repair with Jane Greenfield. New York : H. W. Wilson Co., 1988.
Lavender, Kenneth and Stockton, Scott. Book repair : a how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers, 1992.
Yale University. Library. Simple repairs for library materials. New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Library, 1981.74 colour slides + 1 sound cassette + sample materials + script

WWW sites on book repair
Preservation services, Dartmouth College Library (1996). A simple book repair manual. Hanover, New Hampshire: Dartmouth College.

Roberts, Matt T. and Etherington, Don. Bookbinding and the conservation of books : a dictionary of descriptive terminology.
The succinct definitions and explanations, as well as the biographical vignettes, contained in this dictionary will be a boon to those who seek this kind of information. Those concerned, whether they are practicing binders, technicians, rare book librarians, collectors, or simply laymen, will find this a welcome source of answers to their questions.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Basic library procedures: Binding

Towers have been razed to the ground: cities have been overthrown: triumphant arches have perished from decay; nor can either pope or king find any means of more easily conferring the privilege of perpetuity than books. The book that he has made renders its author this service in return, that so long as the book survives its author remains immortal and cannot die...

Richard de Bury:
14th Century Philoblion

Binding procedures are the steps taken to ensure the preservation of written, printed, or near-print materials through a process of attaching permanent covers to the gathered pages. Although some very large university and research libraries maintain in-house bindery operations to deal with special materials (e.g., rare books, oversize books, pamphlets, sheet music), most libraries send material to a commercial binder. The selection of a commercial binder needs to be made very carefully and a number of factors should be considered including the binder's:

  • workmanship
  • accessibility
  • turn around time
  • willingness to assume financial responsibility for material in his care
  • ability to handle volume
  • price schedule

In an effort to create standards for library binding, the Library Bindery Institution (LBI) was established in 1935. This is a trade association of commercial library bookbinders of the United States and Canada. One of the Institute's principal objectives is to inspect and certify library binderies as to the quality of materials and level of workmanship in the books they bind. No library bindery whose binding fails to meet the Institute's standards promulgated on January 1, 1958, can warrant its binding to be Library Binding and, therefore, to be in compliance with all the requirements of the Library Binding Institute standard for library binding. A list of the members of the Library Binding Institute is available on the Internet (see below).

Binding and new acquistions
Libraries have a number of binding choices for new acquisitions. Options include: publishers trade binding; prebound library bindings; publisher's library bindings; and permabinding.

Once new library materials begin to circulate, they are exposed to hazards that can damage them. In circulation materials are often mistreated by patrons and exposed to food, dirty hands, moisture, and heat. Corners will be turned down on pages and among other things, books will be dropped, jammed onto tight shelves, written in with crayon, pen and highlighters, and chewed on by bugs, dogs and children. A worn book can often be repaired or rebound and thus have its shelf life extended.

In the rebinding process, the book is:

  • Removed from the original binding.
  • Trimmed.
  • Put into a new more durable binding.
  • Relabelled.
This gives the worn book a longer life and sometimes, a more attractive appearance. There has been controversy in recent years among conservationists about the loss of original bindings from books through the use of commercial binding. Original bindings tell the story of the progression of the North American publishing industry; are examples of the sheer beauty of the North American decorative arts; and contain important research data for scholars studying bibliographic history. Rebinding a book may be destroying valuable information. For an intersting overview of this issue refer to "Packaging the American Word" listed in the WWW resources at the end of this article.

Each library has differing needs for books, magazines, pamphlets, and serials. Therefore, each library must weigh the value of an individual item with regard to binding.

Some questions to consider before rebinding:

1. Is the item worth keeping in the collection?
Obviously this is a key question. Most small and medium sized libraries cannot keep every item they ever receive. Special consideration needs to be given to the value of each item. For example the following questions might be asked:

  • What are the circulation figures for the item?
  • Will the item be in high demand for the future?
  • Are there additional copies in the library?
  • Is the book of of date in its content?
  • Can the item be replaced?
  • If it is out of date and out of print, does it have important historical value?
  • Does the book have some other special importance to the collection?

2. Is the cost of rebinding less than the cost of a new copy?
Binding prices vary according to binder and according to the size of the book. It may cost less to bind an older item than buy a new edition.

3. What is the physical condition of the item?
If the item is worth retaining, the physical condition of the item may be the deciding factor in whether it can be rebound. Factors to consider:

  • Is the item reasonably clean with no excessive damage to pages? If pages are missing or if they are filmsy, brittle, badly torn, or excessively marked up the book may not be worth rebounding.
  • Are the inner margins at least 1” in width? In the binding process, at least 1/2“ is required for oversewing and the pages will have to be trimmed.
  • Does the item have full-spread illustrations? The value of these will be lost in binding because pages will be trimmed.
  • Has the item already been bound? If an item has been bound once, it usually cannot be bound again because it has already been trimmed.
  • Has the book been carelessly or improperly mended? The following "repairs" may make it impossible to bind a book:
    Application of too much glue on the inside cover, or when tipping in loose leaves. The glue runs between the leaves so far it is impossible to separate the leaves without tearing the entire inner margin or destroying some print.
    Use of gummed cloth for reinforcing joint. When the volume is being trimmed, it will skid if the gummed cloth is not removed.
    * Mending tears with tape. The removal of the tape will destroy some of the print

Rebinding should be considered when the following conditions exist:

  • There are no replacement copies.
  • There are several loose sections or signatures.
  • The cover of the book has been severly damaged but the contents are in good shape.
  • There are many loose pages and they will be permanently lost without rebinding.
Mending would be another option if the item (more information about simple book repairs will be provided in the next blog entry):
  • Has torn or loose pages.
  • Weak or damaged hinges.
  • Loose signatures.
  • Worn cover.

1. Has your library ever sent items away for binding? Yes No
2. If it has, what types of materials were sent and what were the reasons for doing so?
Where I am currently working, we bind together a year's worth of the Manitoba Gazette as we find that stacking them into folders is not the best way to preserve the paper over time.
3. If it has not, what reasons do you think were behind the decision not to bind materials? Do you think items should be sent to a commercial bindery?

Preparing books for shipment to the bindery
Before books are sent to a commercial bindery, procedures for preparing materials should be agreed upon with the bindery. Some procedural considerations include:

  • Is a binding slip required for each book?
  • Should an alphabetical list of the books in the shipment be provided?
  • Will the call number, as well as the author and title, be placed on the spine of each book by the binder?
  • If books are sent and then returned without binding, will information be provided on the reason for not binding?
  • Will the books be rebound with picture covers which are reproductions of the original cover or the original dust jacket?

Once the library's instructions have been issued to a commercial binder, they become part of the bindery's records and are reserved until changed. A workable set of specifications must be established that fit the individual library. Specifications should include:

  • Quality of cloth binding.
  • Instuctions for lettering including type size and colour.
  • Colour of cloth binding.
  • Sewing or gluings.

Before books selected for binding are packed:

  1. Ensure that no pages or sections are missing. Carefully and properly mend any torn pages.
  2. Verify the library ownership and identification marks are still on each item.
  3. Mark the title page. With a pencil, underline the first letter of the author's last name with two lines. Underline the first letter in the title with one line. Write the call number on it.

  4. Remove any dust jackets, book pockets and cards, or bar code labels. File cards and pockets by title in a binding file.
  5. Charge out items to "Bindery".
  6. Place a bindery form or slip into each book. This is the sheet of instructions sent to binder with the specific instructions for binding an item. The binding slip is inserted at the title page or between the front cover and body of the book. It should protude beyond the edge of the book. The slip will indicate the style, colour, lettering, and any special instructions.
  7. Send sample volumes or a rub-off if matching is necessary for lettering on the binding. A rub-off or rubbing is an impression of the lettering and its position on the spine of a book. To create a rubbing, place a piece of strong, thin paper, the exact length of the book and a little wider over the spine, exactly even with the bottom of the spine. Hold the paper firmly and then rub with a soft lead pencil until every letter of each word is clearly transferred. Indicate the top of the volume with a horizontal line. Use of a standardized lettering plan improves the appearance of a library's bound items and eliminates the need for rub-offs.
  8. Prepare a binding list. On the list include author, title, and call number of each item. Indicate the total number of items, copies of items, and date sent. File one copy for your own records and send a duplicate copy to the binder in one box of the order.
  9. Divide materiali for binding according to type (this may not be required by some binders). Books and serials should be separated.
  10. Pack all items and label booces. Be careful in packing to ensure that no shifting occurs. Some binders supply their own boxes and shipping labels.
  11. Notify bindery of impending shipment. Indicate the number of boxes in shipment, number of books, date of shipment, and shipment method. Notify binder of any "Rush" items. Some binders will pick up and deliver.

Receiving material from bindery
When a shipment returns from the bindery:

  1. Unpack the boxes.
  2. Check items received against packing slip and verify receipt of all items. Any items not received are noted on the packing slip and the bindery should be notified.
  3. Check invoice against packing slip and original order.
  4. Check each item against bindery form to ascertain if it has been bound according to specifications (colour, lettering, correct author, title, and call number). Check for faulty workmanship.
  5. Remove book cards, pockets, or other records from bindery files. Discharge items from "Bindery".
  6. Reapply book cards, pockets, and barcode labels. Replace dust jackets.
  7. Replace marks of library ownership.
  8. Put call number labels on the spine if not done by the binder.
  9. Reshelve books.

Sometimes items are returned unbound. The bindery may have returned the item because: the volume is incomplete; the physical condition of the paper may make rebinding impossible; and unusual or extra binding process may be required that will incur extra charges above the usual rate.

Binding serials and special materials
Preparing serials for binding is slightly more complicated than handling books. Only complete sets or volumes should be sent to the bindery. It is very important to check sets and make sure that they are in the proper order. The contents of individual issues should also be checked to make sure that pages are not missing. The volume or year must be complete and in nearly perfect condition for binding. Replacement issues and pages should be requested to fill in any gaps in a serial.

Pamphlets are typically not sent out for binding. These materials have a limited life and lose their usefulness in a short time. Pamphlet covers or boxes can be purchased and applied in house.

In some cases books may be too brittle to bind, incomplete, or rare and requiring extensive treatment at a later date. An option for these materials is the marginal materials case (or phase box), a simple enclosure designed to provide stable security to damaged materials on the shelf.

Additional references
Merrill-Oldham, Jan and Parisi, Paul. Guide to the Library Binding Institute standard for library binding. Chicago : American Library Association, 1990.

Websites on binding
Cornell University Library. Preservation Department. Guidelines for the shortening of binders' titles.
The standard commercial binding cost premium for lines of lettering in excess of seven is 20 cents per line. It is therefore important that titles, inclusive of volume numbers, months, years, etc., should be confined to a maximum of seven lines. In order to minimize reader confusion, a consistent method for reducing title length based upon normal forms of citation should be used.

Preservation Directorate. Library of Congress. Leather dressing.
Short handout on the care of leather bindings and warnings about the use of leather dressings.

Preservation Directorate. Library of Congress. Packaging the American word: a survey of 19th and early 20th century American publishers' bindings in the general collections of the Library of Congress.
In 1996, a random sample was drawn from the Library's database of books published between 1830 and 1914 by six prominent American publishing houses. The purpose was to examine the condition of these materials with emphasis on the preservation of publishers' cloth bindings. It is hoped that this survey and its results will help to raise awareness of the value of original publishers' bindings and assist in determining how well the Library of Congress is caring for this population of books.

Preservation Directorate. Library of Congress. Library binding institute members--1998.
A list of the 1998 Library Binding Institute members.

Roberts, Matt T., and Etherington, Don. Bookbinding and the conservation of books: a dictionary of descriptive terminology
Provides definitions and explanations, as well as the biographical vignettes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Basic library procedures: Library inventory

The following blog entry consists of notes referring to the video Library Inventory.

The video referred to conducting an inventory in a school library.

A staff member should call out the author, title, the number of copies, and check that everything that should be present is there.

The inventory has to be done; books and materials must be accounted for, and replaced, if necessary (and budgets allow). The order and condition must be checked, and staff can identify those items that need to be cleaned, repaired or mended. Staff can also identify materials in various class subjects.

Start out with the shelf list, which is the order the books should appear on the shelf. Each card identifies the book/item, copy number, purchase date, price and where it was acquired, and the loan history.

If a book is lost, it could be checked out by a patron whom has lost the material and does not know where it is. A fine should have been collected.

If a book is missing, the library does not know where the item is. As far as they know, it should be in the library as it has not been checked out by a patron.

Look at the shelf list and know which areas have enough material, and which areas should be built up - e.g. more materials should be purchased for.

A good set of inventory materials include paper clips to mark missing materials on the shelf list, pencils, coloured cards to indicate the last place on the shelf inventoried, gloves, and the inventory/shelf list.

There are 8 inventory steps:

1. Arrange the books in classification order and push to the back of the shelf.
2. Assign teams of 2 to take the inventory so it is conducted quicker.
3. Check each item against the shelf list.
4. Remove items in need of repair.
5. Attach paper clips to a item's card determined missing.
6. Search for missing items.
7. Fill out inventory records.
8. Finalize shelf list.

The shelf list should reflect the order the materials should be in. Start at the beginning of a classification section; indicate that the section has been finished, or when work has stopped for whatever reason (e.g. break, end of the day). Work left to right, top to bottom - just as the shelves are arranged and aligned in the library. Indicate that a section of the shelf list has been finished.

Materials are replaced according to the shelf list; not what is on the shelf.

Materials needing repair should be removed, the reason being stated on the card. Use symbols and date. Write the reason in pencil to the right of the copy number so it can be removed at a later date.

Examples would include:
Bdg - binding or repair at outside bindery
Mend - mending or repair done inside library
L - teacher/student has lost item
L&P - item lost/damaged and has been paid for
M - item missing
W - item withdrawn/removed/weeded
When an item is not on the shelf, paperclip the shelf card and mark the date.

'Dress the shelf' by pulling materials to the front, which indicates a book has been inventoried.

Paper clips make it easier to locate missing items for a conducted search. Books are often found in check outs/display cases/overdues/bindery (which someone may have neglected to mention). Restate the current condition on the item card, and remove the paperclip when the item is known to be no longer missing.

Staff should record the exact library holdings.

A sample chart could look like the following:

June (previous year's holdings)
Added (those items returned/new since previous inventory)

Missing (at time of inventory)
Subtotal (June's total + Added total) - Missing total
Lost (Items missing for 3+ years and/or paid for)
Total (Subtotal - Discarded total + Lost)

The inventory will give a idea of what the library has, and what needs to be replaced.

Paper clip unaccounted items, and be aware of them for the next 3 years. Is the book important? Reorder as soon as a budget will allow! If not, the shelf list of the last remainig card should be pulled and discharged if all the books are gone.

Inventories should occur when all books are in, or when the library is least likely to be disrupted (e.g. during holidays). If the inventory is ran through the school year, one classification number should be inventoried at a time.

A inventory is a vital big test. It needs to be a thorough organization with accuracy.

Library inventory. 25 minutes. (American Library Association Video/Library Video Network)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Basic library procedures: Inventory control systems and procedures

Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are the ones that other folks have lent me.
Anatole France (1844-1924)

What is inventory?
Inventory is:
* a standard business procedure

* a survey of goods and materials in stock

In a library this primarily involves checking the library collection on the shelves against the catalogue records, but it could also involve an equipment and supplies inventory.

Why do libraries conduct inventories?
1. To ensure the accuracy of their catalogue records
Over time missing books, replacements, withdrawals, human error and changes in cataloguing practices contribute to inconsistencies between a library's actual holdings and its official records. Often theses inconsistencies are inconsequential. There are occasions, however, when a patron and/or staff member can spend a substantial amount of time searching for an item listed in the catalogue, which, in fact has been lost, misplaced or withdrawn from the collection. Not only do such instances cause frustration and confusion, they also erode library users' confidence to deliver information in a timely and efficient manner. If the number of searches for items not on shelves rises, this is a prime indicator that an inventory of the library's holdings is needed.

2. To estimate loss rates and costs in order to evaluate the success of current security systems and procedures, and if necessary, to make a business case for a new security system.
There are two types of losses, known and unknown. If a user tells you that they have lost or damaged an item, at least you are aware of the loss and can take immediate steps to replace it and recover its cost. If the item has been stolen, damaged or misplaced and you have not been informed, then the loss becomes a potential embarassment and frustration as well. It will not be there when you are asked for it. A well-run library or business needs to know the degree of such losses and an inventory is the only way to find out.

3. To replace or withdraw all missing items and to indicate such information on the catalogue record by withdrawing or flagging the record to alert the patron.
Libraries must not only discover the fact a loss has taken place. They must do something about it. At the very least the catalogue record must be flagged in some way to warn the user. Secondly a search or trace procedure should be initiated. Finally the library must decide whether to withdraw or replace the item in question, eitehr immediately or after a predetermined interval of searching for the item. Some libraries search for wayward items for up to three years.

4. To evaluate the condition of materials on the shelves.
Depending on the thoroughness of the invenetory and the skill level of the staff doing the inventory, libraries can also use the inventory to look for any damaged or worn items on the shelves at the same time as they are doing a simple inventory. If an item is obviously damaged and unusuable, it should be brought to the immediate attention of the person in the library who makes the decision to withdraw or replace missing items. Many damaged items can only be discovered by a more time consuming, evaluative process so some libraries will not perform this inventory function except for obvious candidates. The removal of damaged items is called weeding.

5. To evaluate the quality of the cataloguing record.
While comparing the item in hand to the cataloguing record, all kinds of discrepenancies and inconsistiences may be discovered, mostly due to human error (an error rate of 1-5% is typical), but also due to changing cataloguing rules over time. All such errors discovered in the process of inventorying should be reported and evaluated for possible remedial action. Most libraries will not spend the time or use the qualified saff to review the catalogue records during an inventory. However, accidental discoveries may be recorded to assess any cataloguing problem statistically and give feedback to the cataloguing staff or agency.

6. To analyze a collection's strengths and weaknesses
Libraries try to order quality materials by using various selection tools on a day to day basis. The inventory process offers the systematic opportunity to run some checks on how well this process is working. The analysis can be done at a minimal level by doing a statistical count of the number of items held under each call number level (e.g. 100's, 110's, 111's, etc.). Obvious gaps and over ordering in certain areas can be discovered in this way. At the next level, the circulation record of each item can be examined. How often did this item go out in the past year? Some items may never have circulated at all. At the very highest level of analysis, a thorough examination of each item will be done by a qualified or experienced selector to evaluate if the item is dated. The removal of any dated, underused or low value items is called weeding.

When to inventory?
How often, when and whether an inventory is conducted depends on the types and size of the library, the library's budget, and the nature of the collection. Taking inventory is not only time-consuming, but also detailed, involved and repetitious. Staff concerntration and enthuisasm wanes after more than two hours. The more thorough and analytical the inventory, the more staff time and expertise and expense is involved.

There are also logistical problems. If the library cannot be closed during the inventory, the materials on the shelves may change from day to day and hour to hour. The first priority of the staff is to serve the user. This will cause necessary interruptions in taking inventory. Staff may also feel that the inventory, being a special project, is taking them away from their more important regular duties.

The most important criterion in determining whether an inventory should be conducted is the magnitude of discrepencacies between the library's actual holdings and its official records and the cost in time and public relations, if an inventory is not done. The library may not be able to avoid delay and embarassment in serving the user when it does not inventory its collection regularly. Staff, in these circumstances should react quickly and strongly to reported incidents by either purchasing or borrowing a replacement copy from another library, or finding a suitable substitute to meet the client's information need.

Type and size of library
It is much easier to conduct an inventory in small libraries. Library staff working in teams of two may complete an inventory of an entire collection in one or two weeks. School and college libraries can use periods of low user demand and circulation during a semester break or during the summer. Most libraries have varying usage over the course of the year and they should choose the period of lowest usage/circulation to do their inventory. In this way, staff will have more free time and disruptions will be minimized.

Large libraries can seldom afford to inventory their entire collection at one time. They have to decide whether to do a rotating inventory over a span of three to five years or to do a partial inventory of those sections which receive the greatest use or wrhere the losses are particularly accute, e.g. videos. Libraries may also decide to conduct randomly generated periodic sample inventories.

Some libraries may not do an inventory at all. They may only have enough staff to perform regular day to day functions. The number of users and volumes and the constant circulation can make an inventory too daunting and expensive to justify. These libraries should, at the very least, have strong procedures in place for investigating and remedying all missing item incident reports. The volume and type of material should be monitored as well, in order to detect any patterns of loss and the degree of loss. Patterns may indicate a change in security procedures. Certain items or classes of items may need to be protected in closed stacks or reserve collections.

Nature of the collection
If the collection is secure and well protected and preserved, the need for an inventory will be far less. If the collection dates quickly and the users focus on more recent acquisitions, the loss of older items may not be a problem.

Incident report/search/trace procedures
The minute an item is reported missing a search procedure should be initiated by an experienced staff using a form to check for all the likely places/files that an missing item may be. Automated libraries will have a lot fewer files to check as most of this information can be flagged on the on-line catalogue record.

Here is a list of the most likely possibiliites to check:
1) Does the catalogue record (in automated systems) or the circulation file (in manual systems) show it to as circulating to someone else? Offer to put it on hold.
2) Is it in process or transit somewhere (in bindery, in repair, waiting to be shelved/discharged, on display, on reserve, in cataloguing, in storage, on ome staff member's office or in use in the library)?
3) Is the item misshelved in any other collection that the library has: Reference, Rare Books, Reserve, Oversize Books, Juvenile/Young Adult/Adult, etc.?

If an item still cannot be found a trace procedure may be initiated to search for the item again at intervals in case it turns up. In a manual environment, a special search form/file will have to be created or the shelf list card flagged in some way. In an automated library a missing items list can probably be generated on demand. For critical items, the library may search more diligently but missing items are usually checked for at monthly, quarterly or even yearly intervals until such time as the library decides to give up.

Since this process is so labor intensive and since materials vary widely in demand and value, the library may decide to abort the trace procedure and simply replace the item if it is still in print and not too expensive, or interlibrary loan it for the patron. If it is not a valuable item, the library may simply decide to witihdraw the item and remove all cataloguing records. This decision is usually made by the head of the library or the person(s) in charge of selecting library materials. They may decide to replace the item exactly or to purchase a newer item. In a manual catalogue card environmentn, the decision to withdraw the last copy of an item or give up the search for it also involves pulling all catalogue cards in the set: author(s), title(s), series and subject. The shelf list or main entry cards lists all the other added entries in the card catalogue. In an automated item, the record can be deleted in one step.

Conducting an inventory
Each library will follow most of the steps below but each inventory will be unique to its own environment in some way.

1. Notify
Notify your staff and users so that as many materials as possible can be returned and the users are forewarned of possible disruptions. Decide whether the library is to be closed temporarily or a specified range of stacks will be unavailable.

2. Schedule
Schedule and train the necessary staff. The collection can be apportioned according to staff interest, time and expertise. Unless goals and responsibilities are assigned the inventory will not be completed. If the library uses volunteers or hires staff for the project, training and supervision will have to be provided. A systematic project like this is an ideal introduction for new staff to a library.

3. Shelve
Before you start, make sure all materials are shelved, not waiting on carts or lying on desks and tables in the library.

4. Shelfread
"Read" the shelves to make sure the section to be inventoried is in correct call number order.

5. Inventory/shelf list
Prepare an inventory list for the section to be inventoried. The library may already have a shelf list created as a byproduct of the cataloguing process. It is a file of cards or slips containing a catalogue record for each item in the collection. At a minimum the shelflist record must contain enough information to uniquely identify the item including:

* the call number, title
* first author of the item, and
* a brief physical description of the item catalogued (e.g. number of pages, volumes, pieces, etc.)

* If there is more than one copy this should be indicated by a copy or accession number.

* If there is more than one edition or version (paperback, hardcover, large print, audio), there should be a separate shelf list card or listing for each version/edition with distinguishing edition, features and physical description noted sufficient enough to distingush one from another.

Make sure the shelf list is arranged in exact call number order so that an efficient comparison can be made to the same order on the shelves. Most automated systems can generate an inventory list for a designated call number range. In fact large libraries may wish to further refine this list to show only those items which have not circulated in the last year or so. Such items may be missing. If not, they are prime candidates for weeding.

6. Matching
For the actual matching of the inventory list against the shelves, a team of two is most efficient and effective. One member of the team concerntrates on the inventory list while the other looks for the item on the shelves. They must be careful not to lose their place. Two pairs of eyes are more likely to notice errors while one individual alone must move back and forth from one file to another and this can break concerntration. If a library is performing an analytical inventory involving the evaluation of materials, one of the team members need to be qualified or trained in making the evaluative judgments involved ias to the quality and condition of the material and the cataloguing record. The team will need a library truck to provide a working surface to make any notes on the inventory list or to hold items designated for repair, correction, weeding, etc.

Each item inventoried that presents no problem should be ticked/checked and/or dated in pencil on the inventory list and in manual environments the item itself should be ticked and/or dated on the circulation card and/or its pocket. Some libraries may use a stamp to save time on the dating process but the humble light lead pencil enables the user to quickly erase any mistakes. Some libraries may use a coloured pen to tick each year (e.g. blue 1996, yellow 1997, etc.)

If a library is fully automated and uses barcodes for circulation, the inventory may be taken with a portable barcode scanner. Each item on the shelf can then be scanned and then the information scanned can be run against the library holdings file in the main database to generate missing item lists, error lists and statistical reports.

7. Missing items
For any item not found on the shelf, the inventory list is marked and dated in pencil with an M or some other appropriate symbol. If it is in shelf list format, the card/slip may be upended or paper clipped or flagged in some way for later review. If the missing item is one of several copies, it is important to mark the appropriate copy and/or accession number.

8. Condition check
While handling the item on the shelf, the condition of the material is examined in at least a cursory fashion. Does the item just need mending? Obviously defective or damaged items should be pulled for evaluation. Should the item be replaced or discarded? The more a library wants to keep its stock in good condition, the more thorough the revie of the physical condition will be and the more trained to spot common condition errors the staff must be. A mending slip/form for such evaluation greatly helps this procedure.

9. Catalogue record check
If there are any discrepencacies between the catalogue record and the item in hand, the staff should flag the item or the record for correction. Common errors, usually of a clerical nature, are:
* call numbers
* typos
* accession numbers
* copy numbers

A correction slip for such minor errors greatly helps this procedure. The mending and corrections slip/form are often combined.

10. Circulation check
If either the catalogue record or the item itself (circulation card, due date slip) indicates that the item itself has not circulated in over a year, the library may decide to weed the item, especially if there are many copies of the same item. Public libraries often have multiple copies of best sellers to meet the initial demand and then are stuck with too many copies to keep permanently. School libraries may be driven by similar curriculum and assignment fashions that change from year to year. If there are too many items on the same subject already on the shelves, the decision to weed is reinforced, especially if the library has a space problem.

11. Quality check
The easiest quality check to make is to check the date of the item. Many fields of knowledge are quickly outdated and dated items may contain misinformation rather than quality information. Sophiscated library users should know enough to be wary of the currency of the material. Some library material is classic and should be kept indefinitely. You would not weed the Bible or the Consitituiton of the country. The ultimate judgement to weed or not to weed is based on a high level of knowledge of the collection, the library clientele, and the state of knowledge and publishing in that particular field so it is not easy for junior level staff to do but a library may set guidelines for the staff to execute during the inventorying process, e.g. in the computer science field, pull all books more than three years old for consideration for weeding. A weeding consideration form greatly expedites and guides this process.

12. Statistical analysis
A library may just keep gross inventory statistics:
* number of bays/items inventoried

* number of items misshelved or misplaced
* number of items missing
* number of missing items subsequently located and why/how
* number of missing items replaced
* number of items mended
* number of items corrected
* number of items weeded/discarded and reason
* time spent

A more detailed multi-factor analysis including comparisions with automated system reports on circulation may reveal the cause of the problems identified so remedial procedures can be put in place. A cost analysis shows the Library whether the time spent in inventorying is justified for the benefit created. Junior library staff will just be trained and required to fill out the statistical forms provided by the library. Inventories are primarilly designed to check the stock in hand but any systematic evaluation may have side benefits. If the library refines its statistical analysis to identify inventory at a more detialed level of classification in the call number (analyze the above factors in the statisical analysis by each ten numbers in the Dewey Classification (e.g. 110's, 120's, 130's, etc.)), patterns of usage and gaps in holdings may be revealed.

To some people, inventories are pure drudge work and not worth the effort. To others, inventories are wonderful learning and evaluation tools. The truth probably lies between these two extremes and each library must decide whether to do a systematic, partial, selective or sample inventory depending on their own unique situation. How great is the problem and are the resources available to do the job? Even if your library does not do a full inventory, it must maintain minimal inventory control by tracking all missing, lost, misplaced, and damaged library materials through an incident reporting trace system. Library staff can help greatly by remaining alert to the problems discussed in this list and applying such inventory control checks as they work in the library.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stack maintenance

Maintaining an orderly arrangement of library materials is an important function generally assigned to circulation. A library must have an accurate and efficient shelving operation or good library service is impossible. Backlogs of unshelved materials cause delays in service and require staff time to locate materials. Misshelved materials are as good as lost until they are somehow noticed and reshelved correctly. When closed stacks were the rule and only library staff had access to them, maintaining an accurate arrangement was at least possible. But with the advent of the public library and the gradual elimination of closed stacks in favor of open stacks for patron browsing, maintaining orderly collections of materials has become a constant battle waged by the circulation department.

The most common way in which libraries first sort their collections is by format. Books, periodicals, audiovisual media, government documents, pamphlets, and so forth are grouped together by format. This is done for two reasons. First, different formats are often arranged differently. For example, books are filed by classification number, periodicals are often organized by title, government documents are arranged by special federal or state classification systems, and pamphlets are grouped by subject.

Another reason information formats are housed together is that materials are stored differently based on their shape and size. Books and periodicals are housed on shelving, pamphlets in file cabinets, microfilm is filed in microfilm cabinets, audiovisual materials require special shelving or display racks, and maps are laid flat in map cases. Because books and periodicals are the most common items in libraries, we limit our discussion here of stack maintenance procedure to these formats.

Books are the most traditional item in most collections and are housed on shelves in bookstacks and arranged by classification number. Some books, such as rare or antiquarian books, special collections materials, and oversized volumes, require special handling, but these, too, will have a classification or accession number to allow orderly shelving. Although support staff or librarians will, in all but the smallest libraries, usually do little shelving, they must know enough to train the clerical and student assistants to handle all phases of the shelving operation.

Classification systems
There are two popular classification systems in use in the United States. The older Dewey Decimal system is found primarily in school and public libraries, and the more recent Library of Congress system is used in most academic libraries. Special libraries frequently use their own classification system rather than Dewey or Library of Congress. Often these libraries contain materials on a single topic and a chronological numbering system may be more useful.

The conceptual basis behind both systems is identical: to group books together by subject, and within each subject by author. The Dewey Decimal system uses decimal numbers to classify knowledge, while the Library of Congress system employs a combination of letters and whole numbers. The Dewey Decimal system may present more problems in shelving because of the numbers to the right of the decimal point. It is important to remember that, because these numbers are decimal fractions, a number like .16 is smaller than .9 and will file before the latter. As an example, the Dewey classification numbers below are given in the order in which t hey will appear on the shelves:

581.21 581.21 581.31 581.4 581.498 581.5
D4 E73 A4 A47 R3 J6

Notice that .498 files before .5 because it is the smaller decimal. The second line is a number, also a decimal, used to group items by the same author together. For example:
512 512 512

A37 A4 D26

The Library of Congress classification is arranged first by letters and then by numbers. The third line is the number that, like the second line of the Dewey Decimal Classification, serves to keep material in alphabetical order by author. Notice that the book number in the examples below is treated like a decimal:

7 7 96 3063 4701 4701
D47 D5 G5 R71 R19 R2

Circulation staff must train shelvers to understand the classification system used and its relation to shelving materials. Staff who do the shelving must also understand the importance of correct shelving and how it relates to good library service.

Materials to be shelved come from several sources:

1. New acquisitions;
2. Circulated materials that have been returned;
3. Materials used in the library and not reshelved by the customers (most libraries, to prevent misshelving, discourage customers from reshelving materials).

The details of shelving operations vary among libraries. Shelvers may bring materials to a central location where they first rough-sort them and then place them in precise order. Larger libraries commonly have sorting areas on each floor. Prior to shelving, books may be sorted on shelves and then filed in exact order on book trucks, or sorted and placed in exact order on the shelves before being loaded onto book trucks. Shelving is a tiring and uninteresting job if performed for too long (one or two hours is about right) and become careless.

To maintain the library collection in good order staff must regularly check the order of materials on the shelves. This is called shelf-reading. Shelf-reading is accomplished by scanning the shelves and reading the call numbers on the material to see that each item stands on the shelf in proper order. A collection with material out of order is difficult to use; trying to locate misshelved items wastes a lot of customer and staff time.

As the clerk or student assistant reads the shelves, misshelved items are placed in correct order and items are straightened on the shelves. The shelf reader also sometimes shifts books from one shelf to another to alleviate overcrowding. The employee also looks for damaged materials and loose or defaced labels and removes this material for repair.

The support staff and librarians do little shelf-reading, except to check or revise the work of new personnel. The supervisor will establish schedules to ensure that the collection is shelf-read at regular intervals. Some of the more heavily used parts of the collection require frequent shelf-reading, while other parts of the collection may need to be checked only occasionally. Staff must be familiar with circulation patterns and shelf-reading statistics to identify the more heavily used parts of the collection.

As may be surmised, shelf-reading is tedious work. Shelf readers can maintain the concentration needed for accuracy for only about one or two hours at a time. When scheduling personnel for this work, the supervisor must consider these limitations.

Collection growth and shifting
As the library adds materials to its collection the shelves in some areas become full. When this happens the shifting of materials is necessary to permit further growth. A section of shelving is considered full, for practical purposes, at about 75 percent capacity. At this point, shelvers will frequently have to move books from shelf to shelf to create needed space. When shelves become full, the shelvers should report this to the person responsible for stack maintenance. Also, staff members who are responsible for stack maintenance should check the shelves regularly for crowded areas. Books should never be shelved tightly because damage is sure to result.

A book shift may involve moving only a few shelves of books or it may require the movement of several stack ranges. The less space for growth a library has, the more shifting is necessary to move the existing space where it is needed. Libraries running out of shelf space may need to shift substantial portions of their collection every year, at considerable cost, or resort to remote storage of a portion of their collection.

The library collection is not arranged randomly; it requires considerable planning by the librarian. In formulating such plans, the librarian may consider the following:

1. placing frequently used materials in accessible places;
2. keeping related materials together;
3. placing little-used materials where they do not occupy the most valuable floor space;
4. arranging materials logically on each floor so customers are able to find them with as little trouble as possible.

Shifting, too, requires a great deal of planning. When planning a shift, staff must consider collection growth rates, understand the nuances of shelving patterns, make sure that the workers performing the shift have received adequate training in shifting and handling techniques, and perform accurate measurements on the portion of the collection to be shifted to guarantee that the shift is successful. Although it is the librarian who makes shelving decisions, the paraprofessional often plans and carries them out and must be aware of the rationale behind the decisions. The support staff should be alert for shelving problems, and staff should report these problems to the librarian with recommendations for their solution.

Evans, G. Edward, Amodeo, Anthony J., and Carter, Thomas L. Introduction to library public services. 6th ed. Greenwood Village, CO : Libraries Unlimited, 1999, pp. 236-241.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Basic library procedures: Shelving and shelf-reading procedures

In a busy library, shelving and shelfwork is a never-ending and seemingly, thankless task. The arrangement of books in the library makes them accessible and usable by library patrons. If materials are misplaced or never reshelved, locating information would be impossible. It is recommended that all library materials be reshelved within twenty-four hours of their return to the library, yet many libraries fail to realize the importance of shelf work. Although shelvers may rarely come into contact with library patrons and are often the most junior people on staff, the quality, speed, and efficiency with which shelving is carried out will affect how patrons view the library and its services. Backlogs of unshelved materials cause delays in service because patrons must wait for unshelved items to be located. Shelving and shelfwork is critical to the efficiency and effectiveness of any library.

Terminology of bookshelves
Before discussing shelving arrangements, it is important to be clear on terminology used to describe shelves and shelving in libraries. There are four components to bookshelves:
  1. Shelf – A flat piece of wood or metal that is placed horizontally between two uprights to hold books. Shelves are hung in a series of slots running the length of each side of the upright. This permits shelves to be easily adjusted for materials of varying heights. A 3ft. shelf length is the standard. Depths of 8, 9, 10, and 12 inches are available. However, a 9 inch depth is considered the standard.

  2. Section (also called a Bay) – A vertical series of shelves, between two uprights. A section is 3 ½, 5 ½, or 7 ½ feet high. The section is the basic unit of shelving and may be
    a. Double-faced – shelves are hung on both sides
    b. Single-faced – shelves are hung on one side only and are usually placed against a wall

  3. Range – A number of sections lined up end to end. Ranges are aligned parallel to each other. Sections of freestanding shelves are usually bolted together and made more aesthetically pleasing by installing end panels. As well a range will be capped with a top, referred to as a canopy top. The canopy top adds stability, protects books on the top shelf from getting dusty, and gives a finished appearance to the range.

  4. Stacks – All of the ranges within the library are collectively referred to as “the stacks”. The aisle width between ranges should be a minimum of 3 feet. Information about access for people with disabilities is available from the National Library of Canada.

Different types of shelving
In addition to the standard shelving illustrated above, there are a large variety of display and special purpose shelving available for:

  • audiovisual materials
  • periodicals and paperbacks
  • special displays (e.g. new books)
As well, special types of storage shelving has been developed to help libraries rearrange their collections to increase capacity. Compact storage systems can house more books than traditional shelving in the same amount of floor space because most aisles are eliminated. There are two kinds of compact shelving:

1. Compact mobile shelving
When an aisle is required, the stacks are moved to one side or the other to open-up an aisle. The ranges are mounted on metal rails and can be moved by: pushing, use of a mechanical crank, or use of an electric motor. When an aisle has been opened, there is no aisle access available for the neighbouring ranges. Built-in safety devices ensure that an aisle cannot close with a patron standing in it. Patrons and shelvers may have to line up while waiting for unavailable ranges. Browsing time may be limited if others are waiting. This type of shelving is usually used for infrequently used material or for items that can be retrieved without browsing (e.g. outdated book collections or old runs of bound periodicals). Because of the weight of compact movable shelving is heavier than standard shelving, it must be installed on the ground floor or in a specially built facility.

2. Sliding drawer system
This type of shelving is a fixed framework of individual shelves can be pulled out into the aisle. It requires more aisle room than standard or compact shelving.

Open and closed stacks
Library collections can be open stacks or closed stacks. There are reasons to have both in a library and implications for library staffing and shelf work.

1. Open stack collection
Open stack collections give patrons complete access to the materials on the shelves. Patrons may browse and choose their own materials. The result of open access is more reshelving and maintenance to keep the collection in call number order. There are extra problems with security. Libraries try to discourage patrons from reshelving their materials because untrained individuals may misshelve materials and as a result materials become lost. Signs are typically posted encouraging patrons to put material they have used onto specially designated carts, tables, or shelves. This facilitates the job of collecting, sorting, and reshelving materials for library staff. The level of maintenance required in an open stacks collection is justified by a major increase in accessibility for the patron.

2. Closed stack collection
Any collection that is not open to the general public or only on a selective basis is a closed stack collection. Stacks are usually closed to protect rare or valuable material or control high-demand materials. In libraries with closed stacks, materials are “paged”, i.e. the item is retrieved by a library staff member and brought to the patron. The patron requests the material by writing the call number on a “call slip” that is given to a staff member at the circulation desk. The library staff member, or page, is sent to select the requested book from the closed stacks and carries it or sends it by conveyor or booklift to the circulation desk where it is given to the user.

Closed stack collections are prevalent in universities, special libraries, and archival collections. Since the collection is accessible only to library staff, it is generally in better call number order and requires less maintenance. Also, the stacks can have narrower aisles than open stacks, so the collection may require less floor space.

Libraries with open stacks may keep certain materials in closed stacks because they are in high demand, valuable, or may be stolen. Some materials are kept in closed separate stacks because of their physical shape (e.g. maps or newspapers). As well, if a collection is very large and the library has fixed stack space, little used materials are often kept in a closed stack storage area.

Shelving arrangements
The arrangement of books on the shelves make them accessible to patrons and library staff. Unless you are starting or completely revising a library collection, the arrangement of materials in the stacks is already established.

In all types of libraries, nonfiction is usually arranged according to classification systems (Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress). These systems group material by subject and make it possible to browse the shelves.

In public libraries, fiction is arranged in one of three ways:
* Alphabetical order according to the author’s last name
* By type or genre (e.g. science fiction, mystery, romance)
* By audience (e.g. children, young adult, adult)

Academic libraries classify fiction as “literature”. Literature is arranged by call number (usually Library of Congress) so that an author’s works are shelved in the same area with the criticism of these works.

Most libraries have reference material shelved in a separate area from the regular collection. Reference materials will include such things as dictionaries, atlases, and handbooks that are consulted on a regular basis.

Other materials that are often kept in separate areas include:
* audiovisual materials
* biographies
* foreign language materials
* government publications
* large print books
* microformats – eg. Microfilm or fiche
* new books
* newspapers
* paperback fiction
* periodicals
* rare books

Shelving these types of materials in separate areas facilitates browsing. As well, the nature of the material may require special cases or shelving. However, separate areas makes shelving, retrieval, and browsing more complicated. Signage and library maps are helpful tools for explaining library arrangements.

Materials are arranged in the stacks using a block arrangement. The typical pattern of shelving is from left to right, from the top shelf down, section by section, and range by range.

Call numbers and shelving
Library materials are assigned to their places on the shelves through the use of call numbers. These are found on the spine label. Call numbers arrange materials by subject based on classification systems. In addition, the call number divides subject classification by author. In North American libraries, the two most common systems are Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal.

Dewey decimal classification
In public and school libraries nonfiction books are usually shelved according to the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system. These call numbers consist of whole numbers and decimals (e.g. 629.13, 629.5. 629.9). Typically a DDC is not sufficient to identify a work for all library purposes. A book number, also called an author number or Cutter, is added to the classification number to create a unique call number for each item in the library. The call number is composed of a classification number and an author number (e.g. 629.13 A253).

The book number is used to create a unique call number. The simplest form, used by small school and public libraries, is one to three letters from the author’s last name. Instead of an author number, many libraries use Cutter numbers, named after their inventor Charles Ammi Cutter. The author number is derived by combining the initial letter or letter(s) of the author’s last name with numbers from a numerical table designed to ensure an alphabetical arrangement of names. The Cutter number is a decimal.

Components of DDC call number with a cutter number


629 = The first part of the classification number is a whole number and is filed numerically.
.13 = The next part of the classification number is read and filed as a decimal
A253 = The third line is filed by the letter and then by the number. However, the number is read as a decimal.

A sample shelving arrangement for a DDC call number using a simple author would appear as follows:

For example, four books with the following call numbers:

641.5 Con
641.564 Cot
641.145 Cor
641.49 Con

Would have a correct sequence of:

641.145 Cor
641.49 Con
641.5 Con
641.564 Cot

Remember the latter part of the classification number is a decimal. Number “49” comes after “5”, yet “.49” is smaller than “5”. Similarly, “.5” is smaller than “.564”.

A sample shelving arrangement for a DDC call number using a Cutter number would appear as follows:
Four books have DDC call numbers with Cutter numbers as follows:
697.042 D30
697.001 D565
697 D345
697.042 D34

The correct sequence would be:
697 D345
697.001 D565
697.042 D30
697.042 D34

In school and public libraries, fiction books are often simply shelved alphabetically by the author’s last name or simply by the author number or the cutter number. The classification number is usually used only with non-fiction.

Library of Congress
Most academic and special libraries shelve books according to the Library of Congress (LC) classification system. These call numbers are based upon groups of letters and numbers. The letter number combinations represent subjects.

Components of the LC call number
The first unit consists of letters and is shelved alphabetically
The next unit consists of whole numbers and is shelved numerically
.C65 The third line is shelved by the letter and then by the number. However, the number is read as a decimal
The final line is the date of publication and should be filed chronologically.

A sample shelving arrangement for LC Call numbers would be:

One example of LC call numbers with Cutter numbers as follows:
HD 8103 .C65 1980
Z 682 .W65 1985
LB 2334 .I884 1983
TX 911.5 .T73 1979

A second example:
HD 30.3 .J36 1981
HD 57.7 .H46 1985
HD 31 .B48 1987
HD 216 .F75 1969

The correct sequence for example 1 would be:
HD 810. .C65 1980
LB 2334 .I884 1983
TX 911.5 T73 1979
Z 682 .W65 1985

The correct sequence for example 2 would be:
HD 30.3 .J36 1981
HD 31 .B48 1987
HD 57.7 .H46 1985
HD 216 .F75 1969

Special designators
In both the LLC and DDC systems, other special collections of items are arranged to the general rules that apply to the rest of the collection. However, special designators are added above the call numbers to show that the items are shelved in a special collection. Some examples include:

Juv Juvenile Juv C244
Ref Reference Collection Ref Q 175 .E3
Oversz Oversize Collection Oversz Q 175 .E3

Shelfwork is the physical maintenance of the stacks and involves: sorting, shelving, shifting, and shelf-reading.

1. Sorting
Materials to be shelved come from a number of sources:
* returned material
* new acquisitions
* books used by patrons in the library and left on tables or special shelves

Before materials can be shelved, they need to be broken down into workable units according to shelf location and call number. Sorting prepares materials for efficient and quick reshelving. Sorting is usually done on book trucks or on special shelves.

2. Shelving
Shelvers move book trucks of sorted library materials to the appropriate location to begin shelving. As the books are shelved, the shelvers should be looking for misshelved materials and routing them to the sorting area, or reshelving them properly. Shelves should be straightened by aligning all spines even with the edge of the shelf. This makes it easier for patrons to see titles and remove them from the shelves. At the same time, volumes should be shifted to the left side of the shelf. A book support (a wire fixture hanging from the shelf above) or bookend should be used to draw the books closely together to prevent lean.

Books should not be tightened too much with the book support or bookend. If books are too tightly packed, patrons will have difficulty removing books and may damage book spines. Also, if they attempt to reshelve a book they will push several books to the back of the shelf.

If books are too loosely packed, the patron will push some of the books to the back of the shelf. Eventually, they fall in behind the shelf and are not easily found. Loosely packed books may fall off the front of the shelf and hurt someone. Books will sustain damage if they are leaning at sharp angles.

3. Shifting
Shifting is the process of moving sections of books. A shift may be necessary because:
* a collection is being rearranged
* differential growth in the collection
* portions of the collection are being removed
* new shelving has been added
* a new facility has been built

To minimize disruptions to patrons, shifts should be scheduled during periods of low collection use (e.g. over holidays or between semesters).

Free space can be obtained by:
* leaving top or bottom shelves empty
* leaving space at the end of each major break in classification
* leaving space at the end of each range

Each shelf should be left roughly two thirds full. This gives enough room to shelve new books and returned books without overcrowding.

Remove books from the shelves by grasping them in the middle rather than tugging at the headcap. Adjacent books can be pushed slightly towards the back of the shelf so enough of the book can be exposed for grasping.

Book trucks are usually used for transporting materials. They should be loaded in the following manner to prevent nonsequential transfer to the new location and to keep the truck from tipping.

Load carts with the spines facing outwards, not up, to prevent spine damage.

Materials should be carefully placed in order in their new location. Range numbers and directional signs will need to be modified.

4. Shelf reading
Following a shift and on a regular schedule throughout the year, the collection should be shelf-read. Shelf-reading is the process of checking the shelves to make sure that each item is in its proper place. Books get out of order because of staff and patron errors. To keep the collection in order, each shelver is usually assigned a particular section of the stacks that they are responsible for reading on a regular basis (e.g. daily, weekly, or monthly).

The library literature recommends shelf-reading at least once a week. In most libraries, there is simply not enough time, or staff, to shelf-read the entire collection once a week. Heavily used areas are shelf-read daily and other areas read less frequently.

As the shelves are read, any materials on crowded shelves should be shifted. Shelf-reading usually turns up lost or long overdue items that were incorrectly shelved. Shelf-reading is psychologically and physically challenging. Because it is boring, eye-straining, and stressful on the back, each shelf-reading session should be no more than 1 to 2 hours with a break every 30-45 minutes.

Additional references
Bright, Franklyn F. Planning for a movable compact shelving system. Chicago : American Library Association, 1991.

Hubbard, William J. Stack management: a practical guide to shelving and maintaining library collections. Chicago : American Library Association, 1981.

Weihs, Jean. Integrated library: encouraging access to multimedia materials. Phoenix : Oryx Press, 1991