Saturday, February 25, 2017

What I've learned from ordering: 000s

As I've mentioned, at Small Town Library I order adult nonfiction for the Dewey Decimal 000s, 100s, and 700s. I've already written about what I've learned from ordering self-help and philosophy for the 100s and arts, crafts, and sports for the 700s, but I've been putting off the 000s.

The 000s are a weird area in the library. They, arguably more than any other class, show how dated the Dewey system is (you could make a pretty good argument for the religion or history sections too, though, among other options). Officially, the 000s are "Computer science, information & general works."

For my small public library, that means that 90% of the 000s are computer help books, things like iPhone 6 for Dummies and so forth. Then we have a small number of encyclopedias, books about libraries, and books about the news industry shoved between the computer books and the beginning of the philosophy section.

I started my work on the 000s by weeding very heavily. Computer books go out of date very quickly. One of the most useful pieces of advice I read about collection management was to remember that, although a 5-year-old device or operating system might still be in use, you probably don't need to have a book on it because that technology is not being presented to new users who are unfamiliar with it--if it's still in use, it's by people who have had it for a while.

This gave me a lot of space to order how-to books on the latest devices, and on programming languages. Our programming collection was weak when I arrived and I'd heard from my coworkers that patrons had pointed this out, so that and devices were what I focused on.

I cannot figure out the pattern of the 000s at all. The good news is that most of the things I bought have circulated well, but it's a complete mystery to me why the few that flopped were flops. 

For example, here are the items I ordered about using different devices:

Why did the Android phones title circulate more than three times as much as anything else, including a book on the same device but a different brand, and a book on the same operating system but different device? Was it just random chance? Are Android phones really hard to use for some reason? Did some patron evangelize about it to all his friends? I have no idea.

The situation is similar with programming books. The book I bought on Drupal and the one on SQL are just sitting on the shelf, along with the ones on app development, but the two Java books are getting on like a house on fire. And, for some reason, the two books I bought on Photoshop went out a combined 13 times in their first 9 months.


I think the main thing I have learned is that you need time to master the 000s. Because the collection becomes outdated very quickly and thus weeding is heavy, you don’t have a lot of circulation history data to work with. And if you haven’t been weeding, you can’t use the demand for outdated titles to predict demand for current titles on the same subjects. You need time to talk to patrons and learn what they ask for, and time to make some acquisitions and see how well or poorly they do.

The one strong feeling I had about this collection turned out to be right. That was my belief that I should keep the collection to just computer books as much as possible. Anything else that fell into the 000s would not be very discoverable by browsing. The few things I bought that fit that description bore out my worry: Robert’s Rules of Order (which I bought because it is the system that governs our library board’s meetings), and The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market were big shelf-sitters. I can’t do anything for Robert’s, but I think I will try to convince my coworker to adopt the Market into her 800s (Literature and Writing), where I think it will get much more attention.

I also ordered the latest Guinness Book of World Records for the 000s, and it was borrowed immediately and never brought back. I run a report of items that are long overdue every few months, and when this one showed up on my list I ordered a new copy. That experience definitely influenced me to run that report more frequently. Losing the Guinness Book was bad enough (they’re expensive!), but what if it had been some blockbuster fiction title that our library had been missing for two months without me noticing?


Maybe I’ll revisit the 000s in another year and see if I’ve got a better handle on them. In the meantime, if you have any collection management tips, I would love to hear them!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday shift

It's 55 degrees outside today in February and I am stuck inside on the Sunday shift. I'm struggling to be my normal sunny self with patrons.

Everyone is dressed up fancy since they've come from church, so that's nice at least.

Can you show us how to use the copier?

Do you have a Spanish-English dictionary? Thank you! What about CDs?

A man comes every day to read the day's newspaper, which we have to keep at the desk and hand out only if you give us something to hold for ransom because otherwise people steal it. Every day, when he returns the newspaper he jokingly says "Catch!" and pretends he is going to throw it to me instead of handing it back. Every day it is just as funny to him as it was the day before.

I don't have my library card. Can you look up my number?

A woman sets down a book and her library card silently on the desk and looks at me expectantly. Sorry, I can't check anything out at this desk. Not unless you want to set off our gate alarm, anyway, since I don't have a desensitizing pad.

A girl asks for several Blues Clues movies, and also Paranormal Activity 2. One of these things is not like the other...

A woman can't get on the computer because she's trying to use a friend's card number and the friend has too many fines. She can't use her own card because it also has too many fines. Of course this is our fault.

The woman whose statistics tutor I accidentally became wants to know: Can you help me figure out what a null hypothesis is?
Let's look in the index of your textbook, ma'am.

There's nowhere to plug your phone up at?

Do you have color paper that you can purchase? (People really think we are an office supply store. If you set up in the little shop for rent right next to us in the strip mall, you could make a killing.)

Do you have a scanner?

A man visiting from some southern state still hasn't figured out, after visiting three days in a row, which are the guest computers and which ones require a library card to use.

Show someone how to add page numbers to a Word document.

Polite kid: Excuse me, I was wondering where your comic books are.

Can I leave these bags here while I go to the restroom? (No.) Also, where is the restroom?

Mr. Timmons brings me candy *every day* now. I think I might have to tell him I'm on a diet. That's a total lie, but I know he doesn't have a lot of money and also most of the candy is pretty weird.

Do you have a pen? Never mind, I need a marker.

Can you help me? I accidentally clicked something and the menu went away on Microsoft Word.

Do you have Orange is the New Black, season 1?

Show two different people how to use what IT (presumably ironically) calls our "self service" print release station.

The 'closing in 15 minutes' announcement plays over the PA system. Thank goodness!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Half a conversation

A man's phone rang while he was at a library computer. He answered it saying "I'm at the library (pause) NEVER CALL ME AGAIN!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

West Side Continued

An old lady calls me "Honey," "Sweetie" and "Dear" all in one reference interaction. My colleague used to be a pastor and says that when she had that job she would correct people with "That's REVEREND Sweetie." I like her.

Our print release station says "Please enter your library card number OR first name" to release print jobs because we have two guest computers that allow you to log on with a name instead of a library card number. This morning I had to help three registered library users with their printing because they had entered their library card numbers at their PCs but entered their names at the print release station.

I smash at high speed into a patron. Yikes.

Everyone is trying to print W2s and tax forms. I hate this season (not as much as I hate Christmas, though, for the record!).

A man using the online catalog needs help with every single hold he places, but when we repeatedly offer to just place his holds for him, he refuses. I have to admire his perseverance, at least.

A man holds out a copy of "Independence Day: Resurgence" saying, "I need to know if this is number one or number two." I look it up and reply, "This is a sequel to the 1996 movie." Him: "So it's number two?"

A cutesy couple is talking baby talk at each other in the DVD section. I start to hate them but then the man comes up and asks to be on the waiting list for "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." When his wife approaches he goes "Don't look! I'm getting a surprise for you!" They are redeemed.

A man approaches the desk, tells me he'd like to sign up for a gmail account, and waits expectantly.

Can I pay for you to copy this for me in color?

Mr. Timmons tells me a dirty joke (aA, bummer. We were having such a good streak!) and also wants to know on his grandson's behalf if the book Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties has come for them yet. It's not out until August of this year. Huh.

And I remove a copy of "American Rifleman" magazine that someone has 'donated' by putting it out on our magazine shelves.