“Are the surveying books back yet?”
I was startled to hear this as I hadn’t realised they’d been away. What the enquirer meant was, had the library’s shelving rearrangements finished, and if so, where were the books about determining land boundaries.
When you use a library for any length of time, you find yourself identifying subject areas by their geographical location. That section on contemporary jewellery is second shelf from the end on the right hand side of the third bay, those books on refrigeration are on the upper left hand side of the second bay, and so on. The call number you have, pinpoints the text you’re looking for.
This is fine as long as the shelving arrangements stay unchanged.
But good library collections are not static. Some subject areas may be relatively stable. Others are growing because of demand. Inevitably, these areas become overcrowded, prompting a readjustment of books and shelving as new titles are accommodated.
This is what has happened here in the Research Library. Over the past two weeks our shelving has been reconfigured to ease the log jam of books in popular subject sections such as interior decoration, architecture and design. It was a major operation, with almost the whole book collection being reshuffled. But what an improvement! We can find titles much more easily, the collection looks better and there is space for expansion on the shelves.
The change of location for subject areas though might take some getting used to. The enquirer who was asking about the surveying books called out the shelves. “I’ve found them, but they’re on the opposite bay. I feel disoriented!”