May 25, 2017

The Pros and Cons of Not Re-Shelving Genealogy Books in the Library

What’s The Alternative To Not Re-Shelving Genealogy Books?

Amy Johnson Crow shared an article this week in regard to the reason you should not re-shelve genealogy books in the library, and I would like to address the other side of the issue. The libraries don’t want you to re-shelve the books because it helps them keep track of which books are being used, which in turn equates to money for the library through showing that usage.

My experience with this was at the Burlington, Iowa library in their genealogical section. When we walked in there were bookshelves full of books, but some were missing from their places. There were very large tables strewn with books both open and closed. If we wanted to look a a book we either had to close the books on the table or see if it was in the bookshelf. Doing that was very time consuming and frustrating for us because we had a finite period of time to do our research since we were visiting from out of town. Our home was thousands of miles away and we couldn’t just pop back in another time.

The dilemma that I see in this situation is that while the librarians don’t want us to re-shelve books, they can’t always get in to the genealogy section several times a day to count and re-shelve so the patrons are left with the books on the tables and empty slots in the bookshelves. All of us want to be responsible patrons and make the librarian’s job easier, but surely there has to be a better way than having books in the way, or seemingly missing.

Have An Honor System For Showing Use Of Genealogy Books

As I see it, something has to give. Books need to be counted and re-shelved more often (by official volunteers) in order to make research easier, or have an honor system where when you choose a book you can make a note of it (you would anyway if you found information and wanted to cite it) and then be given the ability of re-shelving it to make it easier for other researchers to find it. Of course, you can cite that this method could be scammed by people just noting books to help the library financially, but I submit that it could very well go the other way and patrons could find it so much easier and actually are able to peruse more books and show the library that there in fact are more books being used than the library is aware of.

My thinking is that it would streamline the ability to find information more quickly, possibly create more honest income from the books being used, and keep the library section more neat and tables more accessible for those who might be looking at very large books. How frustrating it is to have to move books from one table to another just to be able to sit down and look at a book!

Some other articles you might find helpful:

A Dozen Genealogy Books I Own

A Wish List for Genealogists

Adapting Boy Scout Law To Your Genealogy

© Carol Wilkerson 2017