or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Innovations in Organizing

   September 25th, 2013 Brian Herzog

Kids clothing racksHere are a couple recent blog posts I found interesting, both dealing with organizing a collection.

First, Cory posted an idea on BoingBoing about ditching gender divisions in kids clothing stores and organizing everything by genre*: adventurous, heroic, funny, cute, clever, edgy, casual, etc.

I think this is a great idea, not just for organization but also, as Cory cites, for toning down the girl=pink/boy=blue approach in general. Not to mention that when I'm out looking for a birthday gift for one of my nieces, I always feel slightly creepy being a single guy looking at little girl clothes.

Second, the Dewey blog from OCLC has a couple of posts on using QR code signs as real-life "See Also" references in the stacks (part 1, part 2). The idea is to link logically-associated subjects in way that makes it easy for patrons to find:

For example, let’s say you have a patron looking at the materials on retirement at 306.38. S/he wonders, “Is this all they have?” And then they notice nearby something like the following:

Dewey Decimal System See Also QR Codes

The positive-me really does think this is a good and helpful idea. However, the cynical-me thinks that this highlights everything that is wrong with the Dewey Decimal System, and is just applying a band-aid instead of actually solving the problem by revamping the entire system to just put similar subjects next to each other in the first place.

I know that is no small undertaking, and can probably never be fully achieved in the physical world. If you're interested in the QR code See Also project, OCLC is (was?) looking for libraries to pilot this system - email Rebecca Green at greenre@oclc.org with "DDC signage pilot" in the subject line. And my thanks-in-advance to any libraries that do - any improvement that makes library collection organization easier for patrons is time well spent.


*Personally, my favorite clothing-store system is the thrift shop method of organizing by color within sizes - all the red shirts together, then all the white shirts, etc. Because usually when I'm looking for clothes, I'm looking for tan pants, or a blue shirt, and this makes it so much easier. Department stores, that divide the store up by brands, drive me crazy - looking for tan pants means I have to look in six different places! How terribly inefficient.

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Organize Your Desktop with Fences

   June 27th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Desktop with FencesAt a meeting last week, a colleague from my consortium's central office showed off a free program he found called Fences. Its function is simple: group desktop icons together in labelled boxes.

Of course I like organization, so this appealed to me. This was the first time I'd seen something like this, but it wouldn't surprises me if a similar function was native to OS X or Windows 7 (Fences looks like it's Windows-only).

I don' t know that I'd actually use this on my personal computer, but I've been thinking about using this on my library's public workstations.

We deliberately limited the number of desktop icons on the public computers to keep things from being confusing and overwhelming. But, if we organize things with Fences, and label each group, we might be able to present more options while still keeping things understandable.

I could see Fences for Microsoft Office programs, Browse the Internet (with a variety of browsers to choose from), Local Websites (maybe the local news sites, Town Hall, the schools), and then perhaps also some to highlight library tools or pages on our website.

I obviously haven't finalized things yet, but I like that this got me thinking about a new way to do things. Thanks Tracy!

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