Organization Tips for Librarians

March 14, 2016 / by Lindsay Mullen


Staying organized as a librarian can be stressful. Between helping a wandering patron find his inner Fred Astaire after directing him to your newest copy of Tap Dancing America and facilitating lively discussions in your library’s makerspace, you may often find yourself too pressed for time to adopt an organizational structure at your library. Here are a few ways your library can stay organized without stretching your staff (and yourself) too thin.

Deciding on Dewey

Since 1876, the Dewey Decimal System has been your library’s go-to for organizing library resources. However, some experts say that the Dewey Decimal System’s rigid numbering system turns off potential patrons with its sometimes-complicated organizational system. In order to make sure your library stays organized in a way that is useful for your patrons, it may be time for your library to reflect on its Dewey way of life and determine whether it’s a help or a hindrance.

Common considerations are your own personal preference (you’re the one who organizes the resources!) and what age range your library typically sees. While older adults may take comfort in the system they have been familiar with for years, millennials might be more open to a library organized more clearly by subject matter. Whatever your final decision, now is the time to channel your inner Aly and A.J. and consider writing Dewey into your Potential Breakup Song.

Uncluttering Kid’s Areas

The children’s room at your library is a haven for young learners to let their imaginations run free. Unfortunately, sometimes this running isn’t limited to their imaginations, and all that activity can wreak havoc on your existing organizational systems. So that you don’t end up reorganizing shelves that somehow hold yesterday’s crafts instead of books, try your hand at developing an organization game plan among your younger patrons.

While controlling the actions of each and every 2nd grader who just discovered cotton candy for the first time is unrealistic, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that a portion of your collection remains organized for the long haul. Start by putting your most popular kid’s items in one section without a strict organization structure in place. This way, young children will gain easy access to the books they want to read the most and you won’t have to worry about carefully filing them away afterwards. Then, try your organizational skills for your up and coming patrons who just graduated to their junior high years and provide careful instructions to help them return each library resource to its proper place. By maintaining proper signage and taking an interest in these “older” patrons, your library will stay better organized, while familiarizing America’s youth with library best practices.

Monthly Calendars

Your library is the stomping ground for interactive patron events. However, with new opportunities on the horizon for your library—like your newest makerspace exhibit or your upcoming book club for those obsessed with young-adult dystopian novels, it may be difficult to properly plan for events and you may find event details begin to fall through the cracks.

Try organizing your library events by keeping a master library calendar on both the website and for internal use. Programs like Google Calendars even allow you to set reminders so you never again show up to your library’s potluck empty-handed. By offering an RSVP function, you will always be best prepared to manage your turnouts and put on a library event for the ages.

Organizing your library doesn’t have to be complicated. By taking stock of your patrons and figuring out what your pain points are, your library will always be able to put its best book forward and establish the most effective organization system. For more tips on improving your library, take a look at our whitepaper: Branding Your Library: Insights from Today’s Top Librarians.

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Topics: Public Libraries

Lindsay Mullen

Written by Lindsay Mullen

Lindsay Mullen is CEO of Prosper Strategies, working behind the scenes to support the Mango team's world of lovable language learning. A language aficionado herself, Lindsay oversees a team of marketers fluent in public relations, content development and strategy (and they speak some German, French, Spanish and Chinese as well.)

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