I use one of the most extreme series authors, Nora Roberts as an example in this post, but most are not this hard.
But I am also updating this Call to Action by adding some more general information about how we present books to our community.
The main reason you NEED to shelve books in series order is simple:
THEY ARE NOT YOUR BOOKS! THEY BELONG TO YOUR COMMUNITY FOR WHOM YOU PURCHASED THEM WITH THEIR MONEY!I am so done with library workers who act like they are the gate keepers of their collections. These people act as guards, trying to find reasons to restrict access. This is dumb. If you think like this, you are wrong. You cannot win this argument. And, you should probably find another line of work.
As I say this, trust me, I realize that many library directors and administrators are the ones who think most like this. I fight them constantly about their outdated and harmful opinions about how to serve their public. I write posts like this to help you have arguments to bring to them. As a widely accepted expert in all things RA Service, at least my word will carry some critical weight as you attempt to change their misplaced minds.
Look, the fact of the matter is your books are meant to be off the shelf, not held hostage on the shelf. You are not 100% successful in your work at the public library until every single item is checked out at the same time and the shelves are bare. So.....job scrutiny, yes, but also this is the goal to strive for. If setting the books free, to be circulated and enjoyed is our ultimate goal, then our policies and attitudes as a profession needs to shift.
Placing books on the shelf where patrons are most likely going to look for them, and then making sure your catalog reflects that [so they can find them when browsing the shelves AND while using the OPAC] is your ultimate goal.
Children's librarians do this all the time with popular series. So LEGO books, for example, are all together on the shelf and use a call number of LEG, NOT the various author's last names. Kids who want LEGO books or Star Wars or whatever is popular at the moment, will look. under the series NOT the author. My local library has gone so far as to pull out "counting" and "alphabet books" and designated them as a "series," even though they are not in a unified series. But, parents and kids look for them in this way.
And guess what, that is fine. Stop getting hives about the fact that it is NOT proper cataloging. Libraries are allowed to organize their materials in the way that makes the most sense to the way their patrons access the collection. Cataloging rules are a guide NOT a law. As I say below, there are no library police to put you in library jail if you disobey.
[Also, and this is a side argument but needs to at least be mentioned here, why are we so attached to LC subject headings. They are extremely racist. When patrons encounter them in the catalog it is a microaggression at best and a hostile attack at worst. So why are we so quick to defend the RULES then?]
The point I am making below is that we need to show our patrons [not just tell them] that we care about their access and experience. Yes, recataloging all of your series is a lot of work, but it can be done and is ultimately in service to your patrons....those patrons whose books these are in the first place.
Below is the original post. I will back tomorrow with a catch up reviews on all of my personal reading from the last few months and then away until Monday.