Building a library: next steps

When all those books arrived and were being shelved by people I didn't know, I was eager to get started on my work. My wise friend said to relax and enjoy this phase as there would be plenty of things to do soon enough. More work than I could imagine.

Of course,  he was right!

You see- I was left with a packing list. The list took about 192 pages to list all 14,000 of the titles that had arrived and been unpacked. Now? you guessed it- the process of verifying that the books on the list were indeed on the shelves. Want to know your collection? This is a good start- touch every book!

Phew. That step done. Next? Splits. Splits are one of those things we all take for granted. Think about your favorite library or book store for a minute. Each space has it's own logic, it's own sense of organization. For the most part, all of an author's works will be together on a shelf- not spanning multiples. For the most part, there are small clusters of books grouped by topic- making the collection the most accessible for it's users.

And so, I split shelves. Going back over authors, breaking the alphabet in a logical sequence. Flushing small chunks of titles to the right  required adding more book ends.  Quickly,  I understood why I needed 500 book ends: thankful for each one. Expanding into shelves left empty~ understanding why they were there waiting for me.

Now the splits are done! Next on the list: Labeling.

Remember that bookstore or library you pictured in your mind? Now imagine all the books on the shelves, but there are no signs. No labels. No maps. How efficient will you be in your browsing? Creating signs, labels and maps also increases accessibility. It helps to calm that overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start. So, in short order- I'll be spray painting some letters to try out. My first signage experiment.

While it is a lot of work, it is amazing work. Each day I picture the students and teachers using the space and loving it. Each day I think about how to make it more usable, more accessible. And each day I'm closer to the vision of users reading, wondering, creating, laughing, and learning. Can you see it too?


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