Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Questioning the fiction spine label

I'm looking at 32 books and spine labels covered part or whole of the authors name or title on 15 of the books. I would suspect the other 17 books have publishers that know a large percentage of their sales (or these editions) are for libraries.

As someone who alphabetizes her records by artist, and not all LPs have names on the spines, and 7" simply don't have spines except for the box sets, I really wonder WHY?

WHY are we bothering with spine labels on fiction?

Especially when I'm making my own this afternoon. At least once upon a time I worked in a library where we had label paper and decided on a font to use that was relatively close to what Baker and Taylor provided. Now I try to cut the paper straight (no guillotine here!). I just can't seem to get a good standard width to the font either, so there are some kinda ugly tricks to get the first letters of the authors last name on the side. Plus, when the author's first name is covered up because of the spine label, the Smiths never stay in order on the shelves.

One good reason is so patrons can tell what is a library book if the book is misplaced on their shelf. Fine. Like every book you get from the bookstore comes with a shiny plastic cover. We have the location code on the side too. Yes it makes shelf reading easier, but maybe we'd need less shelf reading if you could just read the authors name on the spine in the first place.

Would the system save money? Would it make it more difficult for patrons to find books? Would it make it harder for the part-timers to put books back on the shelf?

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