ASSOCIATES (2007, March, v. 13, no. 3) -

Sheryl Pustay
Acquisitions/Circulation Specialist
William Howard Doane Library
Denison University, Granville, OH

Ann M. Watson, M.S.L.S., M.A.
Head of Instruction and Access Services
William Howard Doane Library
Denison University, Granville, OH


In the summer 2003, Denison Universityís library undertook a major shifting project that ultimately resulted in the complete rearrangement of the stacks. This article will describe the highly effective method the Stack Maintenance Specialist at Denison Universityís William Howard Doane Library used to improve the logic and functionality of the book stack arrangement throughout the library. This well conceived plan allowed for shifting the general collection of over 400,000 volumes, which occupied seven floors in the library, into a logical, alphabetical call number order from Level 6 to Level 1. Since the project was mapped out carefully in advance, 99% of the task was completed by student workers in an eight week summer work session.

The Problem

Denisonís library was built over forty-four years - 1937, 1956-59 and 1981. Each floor of the library is divided into three sections: A - toward the front of the building; B - between two main stairwells, and C - toward the rear of the building. The library had many inconsistencies in the Library of Congress call number stack arrangement. For instance, before repositioning the book stacks the B LC call numbers were scattered between the sixth, second, and first floors, the A call numbers were on the first floor, and the Cís, Dís and Eís were housed on the sixth floor.

There were also other problems with the stack arrangement. There was no logical reason why certain periodicals were housed on floor seven, floor two, and floor one. A large volume of science periodicals had been transferred recently into the library from various academic departments, creating the need to make room for these materials. The oversized books were housed on a different floor from those of the same call number. Finally, the general direction of the stacks on each floor was not consistent throughout the building.

This illogical arrangement, along with the complex structure of the building, made it very difficult for library users to find materials. It had long been a goal to have the book stacks organized in Library of Congress call number order, thus allowing library users to locate materials more easily.

The Solution

The primary responsibility of the Stack Maintenance Specialist is to maintain the library book stacks in a manner promoting easy and efficient access to library materials. The inherent problems were identified and a plan of action was formulated. The solution needed to be twofold. First, we had to redesign the layout of the collection to allow for sufficient growth in all areas. Second, we needed a plan to allow us to implement the shift in an easy and orderly manner.


We developed a systematic plan and executed it to redesign the stack arrangement of the library by first sketching the shelving layout for each level. This was followed by an inventory of the number of shelves on each level and an inventory of the shelves currently needed for each call number, while allowing for general growth in each area. We then compared the number of shelves needed and the general layout of each level.

Next we came to a decision regarding the general direction, or flow, of the collection. The shelving layout sketch was consulted to visualize the location of the new call number arrangement. This allowed us to determine exactly where each letter of LC call numbers (Aís, Bís, etc.) would begin and end in their proper sequence. A final sketch was completed showing the new location and flow of each set of call numbers on each level.

At this point in the project two things became clear. First, all of the 400,000 + volumes would fit in the new design. Second, we could now see the complete layout and locations for the entire collection after the shift.


We designed an implantation plan that allowed for the entire physical shift of the collection. The shift was to be done using student workers during the summer while the library maintained normal business hours. Approximately 85% of the collection needed to be moved.

The plan addressed several issues, such as creating a work flow for student workers that did not require a great deal of supervision; using student workers in short, two hour shifts; moving the materials in an orderly manner; allowing library patrons to use the collection during the shift; and completing the project within one summer.

Each column (or row of 6 to 7 shelves) was designated with a letter and number (A-1, A-2), etc. A white card and a tinted file card were made showing each column name. The two colors of cards were taped to each column. The white card indicated the location of the column. The tinted file card showed the student worker where that particular column of books was to be moved. The move was done column by column.

We did not begin at the A call numbers and continue through the alphabet, but rather we used the sketch, and always moved to an open column. Students chose an empty column number from an enlarged sketch, which plotted the progress. The student worker located the tinted file card from the column that matched the empty column number and the proceeded to move the books from one column to its new location. As each column was completed, the student worker stapled the two file cards together and marked the large sketch to show the column as completed.

The student workers tackled only one floor at time, thereby causing the least disruption for the entire collection. Library users were able to continue to use the stacks on the other floors not currently involved in the shift. Since the student workers were working daily in the stacks, they were available to help patrons if they were looking for a book during the actual move of that floor.

New end cards were created and placed on the shelving as the shift proceeded throughout the building. The oversized collection for each Library of Congress call number range was moved to the designated area on the same floor as their call numbers.

Well conceived motivational methods were employed to encourage student workers during the shift project. Student workers were scheduled to work in two, two-hour shifts per day to avoid injuries to their hands and wrists from the weight of the books. The shifts were staged so there were always some students working on each shift throughout the day.

Soda pop, water in screw top bottles and candy were provided to the student workers while they shifted the collection. Students were also allowed to play music on a boom box or use a personal CD player while they worked. The student workers enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere while they conducted the shift.

At the completion of the shift for each level, the library rewarded the student workers. There was a pizza party for lunch, a breakfast brunch party, a movie in the libraryís classroom (with food, of course), and a swim party. The student workers reported that they felt a real sense of accomplishment in successfully completing such a huge and complicated project.


The shift of the Denisonís library main collection was completed smoothly. The planning and effort was not only effective for the huge task at hand, it was conducted in a timely and relatively painless fashion. The library collection is now organized in the following Library of Congress Call Number Order: Level 6 (A-G); Level 5 (H-N); Level 4 (P); Level 3 (Government Documents); Level 2 (Periodicals); Level 1 Ė (Q-Z). All of the over-sized books are now located on their corresponding floor as their call number.

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