When I started at Anthem College, the library was organized according to the Library of Congress classification system, with General Works (A) closest to the door and moving farther back into the library. The shelves were arranged in straight rows, and there was no specific subject designation for materials.
The first step was to remove some of the excess shelving. While the library had room for all its shelves, I felt that the space would be better used if the books were consolidated onto fewer shelves. This allowed the collection to look fuller, while also opening up the library as a more inviting space. With more space between the shelves, it was easier to walk around and browse what was available. I also turned the shelves so that they displayed at an angle, giving a different look to the library than what it previously had. As part of this project, I also did some substantial weeding, pulling books that were old, outdated, or just not relevant to the current collection needs. I modified the display of the collections in the library so that the medical resources were displayed on the shelves closet to the doors, making it easier for students to walk in and find appropriate resources.
In addition to the metal shelving units, I also created separate collections housed on the wood panel shelving. These were placed around the perimeter of the library and highlighted specific library collections. Special collections included computer resources, job search materials, materials in Spanish, GED materials, and in-library use reference materials.
I also decided to incorporate a specific fiction area. The back corner of the library created an ideal “Reading Corner” that included several different fiction shelves and a rocking chair for patrons to stay and read. This created a fun part of the library for students looking for recreation rather than research, and also allowed better distribution of the remaining research books on the metal shelving. The fiction collection was prominent but separate, which also helped students who were confused by which resources were appropriate for research. These changes were made while the students were off during a two-week winter break. When they returned to campus, they were excited to see the various changes to the library, and both students and faculty commented that they enjoyed and appreciated the changes.
In the spring of 2011, the campus was painted to reflect the new school colors. However, the library was not included. During the week-long summer break in July 2011, I painted the library with volunteer assistance. We created an accent wall similar to that found in the classrooms, and repainted the other walls to match the new color scheme of the campus. Overall, the addition of color brightened the library and made it seem like a new room, although the location was the same.
Additional changes were made in the library over time based on patron usage observations. The table highlighting new arrivals was rearranged and moved closer to the library entrance, with more noticeable signage added. It was also used as a central sign in location, encouraging patrons to sign in to document library usage more accurately.
The Director of Education wanted to highlight available periodicals, so I developed a specific periodicals section to display these resources. I found shelving specifically designed to display magazines, which allowed for a space highlighting this collection that also included space to store back issues. This was first placed in the back of the library, and later moved to the front shelving section to be clearly visible when entering the library.
I also created a new group study area. I worked with the Massage Therapy Program Head to design a series of review kits and study materials for the students to use to prepare for their licensing exam. However, these materials were designated in-library use only, so we wanted an area where a group of students could easily collaborate and study without bothering other students in the library. The study table was placed in a corner, allowing small groups to work together and spread out materials without bothering other students. This also became popular for students working on group projects for class.
Our campus was also fortunate to employ Federal Work Study student workers. When I hired my first student worker, I created this area near my office. It included a work desk and computer so that any student worker could have access to the catalog and other necessary computer functions. This also allowed the worker to oversee the library and answer questions easily. We quickly discovered students were more often comfortable asking the student worker for assistance, and most students would stop at this desk before continuing to my office if they needed additional assistance.
My final library reorganization project was the development of program-specific collections. I noticed that most students preferred to browse in an area related to their subject, rather than looking in multiple locations. While Library of Congress classification naturally grouped many of these materials together, most students were not comfortable locating those sections. Instead, I created individual subject collections, similar to a bookstore layout. I pulled books related to each program into a unique section, with large letters used to name the section. Each book also received a colored spine label denoting the collection. Additionally, I updated the catalog records to include the collection the location information, and also tagged each book, allowing me to easily produce a list of available materials for each specific program. I created subject collections for each of the major programs offered at the campus, and additionally added signage to distinguish the general education and medical resources.