Pull-out Collections

Since I’ve gotten my MLIS, I’ve been working the reference desks at work more often.  Usually it’s just an hour here or there to cover a lunch or give someone some time off desk to set up for a program.  This, combined with my history on the circulation side of the library, has led me to realize that pull-out collections are annoying at best and evil at worst.

I realize that some of my readers are not part of the library world, so they may not understand what a pull-out collection is.  Basically, it’s a collection of books or other items that are shelved separate from the same type of item simply because a librarian has deemed them “special” in some way.  They usually have some kind of a label that’s supposed to alert you to their special status.  Let’s hope that label doesn’t fall off!

For instance, let’s say you’re looking for any book that’s part of the “Junie B. Jones” series.  You don’t have a particular title in mind, you just want to browse.  Well, you could look in children’s fiction under the author’s last name, but you’d only find a small portion of that series.  And if you looked in the series paperbacks under J (for Junie), you’d find some more – probably the bulk of the collection.  But what about those elusive few in the pull-out collection we call “Moving Up”?  You’d miss out on those simply because you didn’t know that collection exists.  It’s bad enough that we have to look in fiction and series paperbacks (the two almost make sense), but then you throw moving up into the mix.  Oh! And if there’s a new one that’s cataloged as fiction, you’ll have to look in the new books area as well.  *sigh*

What about books by Lois Lowry?  They could be in the children’s fiction, children’s non-series paperbacks, or in the Newbery Award section.

Some libraries have pull-out collections for specific types of picture books, such as seasons/holidays, number learning, abc’s, and concepts.

My own library is guilty of having pull out collections within adult DVDs (get your mind out of the gutter!  Adult simply means not child and not teen).

OK, now put yourself in my position.  I’m trying to show a child or their parent where to find these things.  “Well, it could be here… or here… or here…”  The pages are trying to fill a hold, which means there could be up to 4 places for an item to be shelved (or mis-shelved).  The clerks are trying to search the shelves for an item the patron strongly believes they have returned – again they’ll have to search in several places.

Seriously.  I hate pull-out collections.  Your goal is to highlight a particular collection, but all that’s really happening is that we’re having to look in multiple places!  And it increases chances for something to be mis-shelved.  It’s really frustrating.

I know this little rant won’t change anything.  Librarians are funny when it comes to their ideas of the best way to shelve things.  I just wanted to get it off my chest, ya know?

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