Bookstore Model

I know I’ve written about the bookstore model before.  It’s not that I keep changing my mind, but I keep evolving in how it will look in my library.  My first foray into it was back in 2011, during my library school practicum.  It was quite successful for what it was – checkouts skyrocketed in given categories (593% increase in military books, I kid you not!), but my professor told me it was more a “featured collection” than really the bookstore model.


So when I started at MNW, I changed around collections at the elementary, included a featured collection section, but this past Christmas break did a quick move to bookstore model.  But when I thought of it, I knew I really wasn’t doing bookstore model.  You can’t move to the bookstore model over Christmas break, after all.  But it was a start, too – paying more attention to the subject than what was on the spine label.  (Some librarians were appalled that I would let students put all the primate books together, without regard to what’s on the spine label.  C’est la vie.)


So this summer, we’re doing honest-to-Pete bookstore model.  I talked a bit about it here.  I was gone for most of June and didn’t get started on it at the high school until July 1.  Still, it is looking great!  So for anyone who wants to put in the bookstore model into an existing library, here’s what we’ve done or are in the process of doing.  (Unlike a presentation I went to a few years ago that talked about doing bookstore model – for a brand new library, brand new books, and where a jobber did all of the work except shopping and choosing categories – this is with an existing collection, no brand-new shelves, no huge new collection.)


First, I took books off shelves and onto tables.  Eventually, I would move them around on the shelves, but I needed a little space to be able to do that first.  As I took them off, I looked at them and decided what type of book it was.  Classic?  Romance?  Thriller?  Humor?  I did this by looking at the back or inside cover, checking the Library of Congress cataloging data, or looking it up on Amazon or Follett and see where others have put it.  I chose some categories that eventually got absorbed into other categories – international books (like Nation by Terry Pratchett) went into either realistic or historical fiction, depending on the title.  Holiday books like A Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans got set aside for me to get out in December.  While I was working, I realized I needed a new category (survival) and we had to go back and see which ones should go in there.  I eventually ended up with these fiction categories:

Classics Fantasy Graphic Novels Historical Fiction
Horror Humor Mystery Paranormal
Quick Reads Realistic Fiction Romance Science Fiction
Sports Survival Thriller Urban

I have a paid helper this summer, and I corralled a volunteer (my daughter).  Donna made labels, Libby put labels on and straightened the shelves, and I started working on nonfiction.

Of course, I weeded along the way.  I can’t wait to get all done, do inventory, clean out any missing books, put in new purchases, and see where my average date lands.  I’m sure it will be improved!  (For now, we’re right at 15 years – 1998 average date).

After all that, then we’ll have to change the cataloging in the circulation system.  Since this has gone very quickly (many hands make light work), and since our system is online, we can all be on the system simultaneously and I’m sure it will take just a day to change all that (well, for the fiction).

So at the rate we’re going, if it were one person doing all this, it would take 4 days to sort fiction and nonfiction into their categories, and 6 to make and put on labels.  To be done still, I think it would take 4 to make and put on labels for nonfiction, another day to weed all the books out of the circulation system, and 6 to change the cataloging of all the books.  So, if I were completely on my own, it would take at least 21 days to get this done.  That really isn’t that bad!  But again, if you possibly can, get someone to help you because it’s good to have someone to ask about genres, to trade up jobs once in awhile, and just to chat with while you’re doing this rather monotonous work.

Finally, we’ll have to make signage.  I think we’ll either paint print dictionaries and put the genre name on the spine, make color print-outs with words and a picture describing the genre (then putting in a frame and standing on the shelf next to the books), or have my son make wooden boxes that he’ll laser the genre name onto the edge.  We’ll see.


Cox, Tamara. “Arts and crafts.” Creative Commons Copyright. Found here on Flickr.

Nonfiction is looking a little busier – almost twice the major genres as fiction – which is strange because I know it is a smaller collection.  So the signage will just be on the major categories here.  I’m still figuring all this out.  Here’s my major categories, and you can find the full list here (84 categories!).

Adolescence Agriculture Animals Art
Biography Cooking Facts Family & Relationships
Foreign Languages Games Health & Fitness History
House & Home Iowa Language Arts Literary Nonfiction
Math Medicine Music Nature
Philosophy Poetry Psychology Religion
Science Social Science Sports Technology

The elementary collection is so much larger, it might take a lot more time.  But by then, we’ll be old pros at it!

I don’t know if this will help circulation at the high school – heck, I wanted to be a librarian when I was in high school and didn’t read books (other than the occasional book – why this was in my school library, I’ll never know).  But I know it is making it a tighter, better collection, and if anything will improve circulation, this will.

Weeding Pains (or Not)

In my first Library Science class, I was told that the first year as a school librarian, I shouldn’t do any weeding.  Instead, I should be patient, get a grip on the collection, the community, etc.  Now the last part sounds like a fine idea, but when you have titles like the following, how could I possibly not weed my first year?

And just in case you don’t stick with me to the end of this long post – I weeded too many titles to count (not all were in the new LIS, so I can’t just look at statistics).  But my efforts have paid off – with weeding and purchasing of new books, we’re up a net 500 books at the elementary, and have increased the average age of the collection three years.  (With the number I got rid of, that means we’ve added a LOT.  We have more than 1,000 new books at the elementary, considering our label usage.)  At the high school, we’re up a net 200 books, and up four years.  We still have a ways to go – the average age at the elementary is still too old (1993), but at the high school, we’re at an acceptable 15 years old average (without adding the new books yet).

But please read on!  This is going to be fun.

This was actually a little hard to weed.  I mean, look at that super cute squirrel on the front, eating his little acorn!  But c’mon.  1973.  The pages are yellowed, we have a ton of animal books to replace it.  I don’t know when it was last checked out what with changes in the LIS and no years on the stamped card, but I’m guessing a good ten years.  (I tell myself I could make some super cute art from my childhood using Modge Podge, but it’ll probably just be added to my fabulous retro book collection.)

It’s “Remember the Seventies Day” at the library, I guess.  I remember my mom reading this, but it definitely does not belong in a high school library!  (Did it in 1978?)

Here’s one that’s actually not bad, but just not good for my library.  Too text-heavy – for either the elementary OR the high school.  I’m going to give it to a fifth grader who is a Revolutionary War buff.

From 1972, Afro-Am Publishing Company’s Great Negros Past and Present:

The thing is, I’m sure this book has a lot of good information.  But I’m also sure if I read closer, it would be chock-full of racist language.  For instance:

“Mary McLeod Bethune:  Cotton picker, educator, White House adviser.”  Cotton picker?  I mean, I know that is true.  But the others in the book are listed by their ultimate role in society.  I’ve worked in the last ten years as a school librarian, a substitute teacher, a public library employee, a nursing home cook, a cleaning lady, etc.  Kids, don’t put “detassler” or “[substandard] waitress at Happy Chef” on my tombstone, okay?

Oh, here’s a fun one:  Walker, J.  The Rhyming Dictionary of the English Language in which the whole language is arranged according to its terminations.  1936:  E. P. Dutton and Co.

Do you like that official title?  Now, a rhyming dictionary might sound like a good idea for a poetry unit.  Perhaps it would, but only if it included words that people actually knew!  I did well on the vocabulary section of the GRE, but I’ve never heard of a firkin, let alone needed to rhyme it. (Oh of course!  It’s 56 pounds of butter!  How could I forget?)

There’s the book, Science experiments that people can eat, in very good cover condition as it’s from 1972.  But the pages are all yellowed, which is wholly unappetizing considering the title.  Ha ha.

There’s the standard one to throw away, the sequel where we don’t have the original.  Add that to a quiet dated book (1992), yellowed pages, and the fact that it’s a well-known author can’t even save it.

There’s the encyclopedias.  The set from 1988 wasn’t hard.  But Childcraft!  I have a hard time getting rid of this.  When I was a girl, a friend of mine had a Childcraft set at her house, and boy was I envious.  And yet, I know I honestly can’t keep this in the library (stained and all):

There’s the fabulous cover images, like this one from 1984 that could have been my husband back then:

 Here’s another that we picked up at last year’s literacy night.  But the art teacher tells me his daughter would read it.  (I think I’ll just give it to her.)

 Here’s a great one.  Don’t you want your kids carving pumpkins to look like Groucho Marx, with a cigar and everything?

Here’s an inside page of the book.  This is supposed to be a space monster.  I’m just not feeling it.  To me, it looks like Dad says, “Hey kids!  Let’s just glue some garbage on it and call it good!”  Martha Stewart would be appalled.

Here’s the only title I got rid of from the book room (several copies of the same book for Guided Reading).  It’s only from 2000, but this is definitely not today’s internet:

My husband and I actually met in an online chat forum – in 1989.  I don’t think the interwebs looked like this even then:

Do you read the Awful Library Books blog?  You should.  I’m going to paraphrase here, but they say, “For god’s sake, people.  Go do a search in your LIS for books with the word “retarded” and get rid of them!”  This is the second book like this I’ve found.

And finally, for those who have stuck with me, here is the ultimate in fabulously awful library books:

Wondering what custom windows to choose for your take-me-back van?  This is just for you, my friend:

“A statue and some potted palms are used to decorate the living room area.”  A statue?  Potted plants? 

Is that a decoration?  A radio?  A telephone?  A television?  Something to take you back to the future, from where you obviously traveled?
“Why is there a bed in the back of the van, Mommy?”  (Anyone remember the scene from The Facts of Life, with a young George Clooney stealing the school van or something?  I’ve always been suspicious of men with vans since then.)
I said this was fabulously awful, or is it awfully fabulous?
So I haven’t decided what to do with that one.  But I do know everyone should have as much fun at work as I do!

Weeding woes

Every librarian knows that weeding makes a collection stronger. I know the previous librarian did a fantastic job weeding – in two years, she improved the age of the collection twenty years. TWENTY YEARS!!!  That’s pretty amazing. I’ve done a bit since I started in July, but it’s not always easy. (Well, sometimes it is – the 600-page biography of Lyndon Johnson from 1980 that likely hasn’t been checked out since 1993, for example.)  I think that since the books have moved out to the regular library space (long story) and I’ve done the weeding I have, it looks fantastic.  Before, in the cave, I didn’t think it was a good collection.  Out here, with some more weed-worthy books out, any student could find a book they want here – and the new books aren’t even out yet. It will only get better!
But getting there can be arduous. For instance, James Herriot’s book, Every Living Thing. It’s 300 pages,  is certainly a classic in adult literature, perfectly appropriate for teens, but it’s never checked out here, and it looks like it’s been here decades. There’s A Midwife’s Tale which won the Pulitzer Prize. I’m sure it’d be an interesting story. But it’s 400 pages, all text with maybe two maps included for illustrations, and it’s just not jumping off the shelves at a high school (apparently never checked out either).
Then there’s the The History of Iowa, a four-volume set. It was published in 1903. It’s in remarkable condition for being over a hundred years old, but that may be because it hasn’t checked out in my lifetime. Literally. Three of the four volumes, anyway, were last checked out in June 1970. (One checked out in 1978. Better save that one!) But shouldn’t we have a history of Iowa book? This surely goes into early history in great detail. There’s a seven-volume set on George Washington, and a six-volume set by Carl Sandburg on Abraham Lincoln. (Does it matter that we have no other books on Washington?  Probably should get one.) Surely these are important books in history, certainly appropriate for an academic library, but definitely not a school library. Then why is it so hard to set those aside?

I remember well what my Collections professor said – the quality of your collection tells your students what you think of them. If you have crap, you’re saying they deserve crap. Of course I get rid of crap, but what about quality history, just books that junior high and high school students won’t read?