Throughout the month of January, patrons of the public library had the opportunity to place their vote to determine the future arrangement of our fiction collection. One year ago we made some dramatic changes to the fiction stacks by dividing them up into sections. In addition to the existing sections of Mystery, Science Fiction, and Westerns, we added the genres of Historical, Inspirational, Military & Wartime, Romance & Romantic Suspense, and Suspense & Adventure.
At this point, I must confess that I was very optimistic that our patrons would think that the new fiction collection was the best thing they had ever seen in all of library land. I was not entirely wrong; many patrons let us know that they loved it. But other patrons also told us that it was an ridiculous way to organize a library and they did not like it one bit!
For better or worse, the whole thing was my idea, and I felt a significant responsibility for its outcome. Whenever I have found myself out in the fiction stacks over the course of the past twelve months, I was never sure if, when encountering patrons, they would tell me how fantastic they found the new arrangement or they would stare at me as if they had happened upon the village idiot!
Although library staff reported that patrons were adjusting to the changes, there were some continuing complaints as well. At the beginning of 2015, I decided to turn the final decision for the arrangement over to our fiction readers.
The election results are in! Some 75% of voters elected to keep the fiction collection in its current arrangement. However, the 25% who voted to eliminate all the sections or to retain only a minimal number of them have valid concerns.
The issue with which we are wrestling – now as in the first day we put the changes in place – is that people choose the fiction they read in different ways. A majority of people enjoy browsing books in specific areas of interest, while others like to focus on the works of specific authors. But many authors write in different genres, and thus, books by the same author may be in several different sections.
In an effort to make the fiction collection easier to use by everyone, we will make some improvements over the next several months. The romantic suspense titles will be moved to the Suspense & Adventure section. Books written by the same author will be consolidated in one section as much as possible. We also will review the criteria for a few specific sections, insuring that they are more focused on the subject. And we will add new signage within the book stacks which will assist patrons in finding popular authors.
We hope that, when we have completed the improvements, everyone will be a winner in this election. And if you haven’t stopped by the library and taken a look at the collection that started the whole thing, then there’s no time like the present!