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

An Old Solution to a New Problem

   December 8th, 2016

One of those on-going discussions in the library world is how to display new books.

Well, new-new books are easy: when something is recently published, it goes in the new book room, or on the new book shelf, for six months or a year or whatever you're library's practice is. And usually, it also gets marked with some kind of sticker so pages know to shelve it as "New" rather than in the regular collection.

The question has been - at least for me - what is the best way to handle books that are not recently-published, but that are still new to the library (and therefore possibly new to our patrons)?

If I missed ordering something when it first came out, and then a patron donates a copy, should it go into the new book room like a new book (even though it's not "new"), or should it just go right into the regular collection (even though people might miss it there)? I've heard arguments both ways on this, but the Jackson (NH) Public Library has a great (and obvious) solution that just never occurred to me.

They do put these old-but-new-to-the-library books into the new book room - and just mark them "NEW-ish." Brilliant.

This labeling lets people know the books aren't just published, but also allows the people who browse the new book room (rather than search the catalog) to easily find them. And that's the important thing.

This might be commonplace in other libraries too, but like I said, it never occurred to me before. Now I just need to convince the staff at my library to go for it. We'll see.

Way to go, staff at the Jackson Library.

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3 Responses to “An Old Solution to a New Problem”

  1. Tori Says:

    We do something similar. We have a “New to [Branch]” placard we’ll put on new-ish books.

  2. Anne Says:

    Do patrons equate “new book” with “just published” or do they associate with “recently obtained.” We use it to mean “recently obtained” at my library. Although, due to limited display space, not all recently acquired books go in that area.

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Tori: you know, I’m both happy to hear libraries are already doing this (or something similar), and sad that I didn’t think of it myself before now.

    @Anne: In my library, the “New Book Room” has always meant newly-published, so I think we’ve conditioned our patrons to make that association. And for us, the only new books that don’t go into the New book Room are the “time-sensitive” serials – things like travel books, tax books, test prep books, etc, that come out every year (and we usually buy every year). Those are just shelved as normal within Dewey (with the year in the call number).