Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to read a shelf

Ever wonder how to find the one special book you seek among all the books in the library? Maybe you found the Call Number in the online catalog, but aren't sure where to go from there.  Most of us know that there are fiction and non-fiction sections, which are supposed to separate the real from the not-real, each in its place. Then again, some non-fiction concepts seem pretty unbelievable, and anyone who has gotten lost in a great fiction story knows how real a story can seem.  But I digress!

Adult fiction books are found upstairs and sorted by genre - fiction (F), science fiction and fantasy(SF), mystery (M), romance (R), and western (W.)  If your Call Number says R ROBERT NORA, you'll need to go to the Romance section and look alphabetically for ROBERT.  Young Adult fiction is also organized alphabetically upstairs in its own little corner, but the genres are mixed together, so science fiction and romance and realistic fiction can live on the same shelf.  And Children's fiction is organized in the Children's Room, alphabetically and by age group, so that picture books are separated from Early Readers are separated from chapter books.

Nonfiction is different.  Newport Library uses the system originally developed in 1873 by librarian Melvil Dewey; hence, the Dewey Decimal System.  Every book is assigned a number that fits into broad classifications in whole numbers, and finer sorting by decimal numbers.  Adult and older children's books are shelved together downstairs in the nonfiction area, while younger children's nonfiction is shelved along one wall in the Children's Room.  There are signs on the shelving to help you find your Call Number, and if you can't -- just ask a librarian!

Keeping all these books in the right place requires careful shelving, to ensure they can be found when needed.  Newport Library is blessed to have dedicated shelvers who return books to their places on the shelves. Without them the mountains of books on the returned-item carts would overflow to the counters and (heaven forbid) the floors. Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers – without you what a mess we would be!


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