Wednesday, December 21, 2011

From the Suggestion Box: Non-Fiction AV Interfiled with Books

"Why are non-fiction DVDs and audiobooks on the shelves with the non-fiction books?"

Several users commented on the non-fiction audiovisual materials, like DVDs and audiobooks, being on the regular non-fiction shelves with the books. Interfiling these collections saves shelf space. For every separate collection at the Library, there are unused shelves before and after the collection to allow for materials to be returned and to show the divide where one collection stops and another begins. In a space crunch like ours, with a Library building housing more than twice the number of materials it was designed for, every inch of shelf space counts.

Most of our customers who browse the shelves for non-fiction titles are looking for a specific topic, like home improvements or a period in history. They're satisfied to find materials on that subject regardless of format. Finding a book and a DVD on that topic side-by-side while browsing meets their needs. Fewer customers are looking at a specific format in non-fiction, but some do. Balancing the needs of these types of customers is difficult in our situation, where space is at a premium.

It was not an easy decision to interfile these and one we struggled with making. However, the hard choices like these, to maximize every bit of shelving we have, are the reality of our undersized building. Ideally, the Library would have a more bookstore-like layout, with face-out displays by subject and multiple copies of items to satisfy all of our customers' different browsing habits. For now, the Library is working to meet customers needs within the limits of our space and funds.