Organization – Learning From the Library
I have a fondness for the library. My earliest memories were filled with hours spent in the library as a young girl – strolling through the aisles, choosing books and hours reading. When the children were young and in school, we spent hours in the library. I wanted to instill in my children a love of reading and of learning. When we moved here, I became involved in our local library. I was on the trustee board, it’s chair at one point and now a part-time employee. I’ve not only loved libraries for it’s books and such, but also for organization. Learning from the library I’ve realized some important principles.
Efforts to Organize Collections
Historically, libraries have been around for a very long time. As civilizations began to keep record of their histories, as books were being written on varying topics it became important to create a system to organize such collections. Libraries were formed for governments, for individuals and later for the public.
One of the most amazing things about a library is accessibility to a number of documents, books, music, and today to computers. Libraries are so much more now than collections of books, they’re places people come to meet, to learn, to study, to play and yes, to read. We can than women’s groups and philanthropists for beginnings of the local library. Now, any book or access to computers is available to all who wish it. If a local library doesn’t have the book, movie or document one is searching for there’s inter-library loan. In Georgia it’s the PINES system. If there’s something not in that system the libraries can search learning institutions. Accessibility is almost unlimited.
In the early years of libraries, people donated from their collections to share with others. Now, libraries work through book companies and organizations to obtain material for the public. Donations from individuals still flow into the library. Some groups even house their own library for sharing. In smaller, rural areas such as where I live, counties form regions to not only purchase books and services, but also to share in the cost of these things. This enables smaller libraries such as ours to offer expensive services, such as computer services, for a fraction of the cost.
Dewey provided so much to the library in his organization of subject matter in the library. It’s amazingly simple and complex at the same time. The books are arranged by topic and broken down into finer subtopics. One of my favorite things about the library and working at the library is that I know each book has a place. When that book is checked out, that place remains open awaiting its return. If a book is taken off the shelf and put back in the wrong place, it is considered lost. Just imagine the thousands of books at a library and how difficult it would be to try to locate it if it weren’t in its proper place! Learning from the library in how we categorize and organize or collections and more can enable us to not only keep track of what we have, but just how many!
Patterns of Usage
Circulation of the books are recorded and the manager can determine what’s popular and what’s needed. Seasonally, we display books that may be of interest to the patrons. These books still have their proper place, but are displayed from time to time to bring interest and encourage the patron to select the book.
Quality of the Material
Older books were once made of amazing material for the binding and the pages. Today, it depends on the book’s manufacturer and the purpose of the book to determine the quality of the binding and of the pages. Some books receive special, heavy paper. Maintaing the quality of the books in the library is important. When a book becomes worn and the binding broken, it is oftentimes more expedient to replace than to repair. Older books, however, require not only special care, but also special locations in the library. Keeping only that which is profitable and usable is generally the practice.
For every job there is a right tool. Some tools have multi-uses. In a library, the library card functions as the means to obtain books and access to services. Rooms in the library can be used for meetings and for study. Computers are more prevalent and have a great many uses. Reference materials are still used today by adults and students. It’s just as important to maintain the ‘tools’ as it is to maintain the quality of the material. Organization of those things we have, applying the right tools will enable us to not only enjoy our home but also to be able to be more creative and productive.
As with everything, libraries have their budgets to contend with. Selection and allocating of budget is important to ensure items are purchased when needed and just what is needed. Budgets are a projection of what the library anticipates needing to maintain, obtain and to provide services for the public.
In our small library computers are always busy and in demand. The patrons use the computers for school, for research, recreation and simply because they may not have one at home or access to Internet. A couple years back, our courthouse burned down and with it decades of historical and important documents were lost. At the time, the library housed many of these documents on microfilm. Funding was donated to the library to digitize these documents making them easily accessible to any one searching for deeds, certificates and past newspaper articles.
Form and Function
Private and public libraries have a specific form and function. Today, libraries have a more modern interior and to some extent facade. The form and function of the library is intended to follow specific guidelines. All fiction are organized together, all non-fiction, all young adult, children and youth books. Reference books have their section and so forth. Each section is organized left-to-right, top-to-bottom. This form and function allows the staff and patrons to easily find just what is wanted and needed.
Applying the Basics
So, how can we learn from and apply the basics of organization from the library?
- Collections – decide what goes together and have a specific place for these things.
- Accessibility – those things used most often should have specific and prominent placement
- Acquisition – only keep those things that are loved and lovely; obtain storage containers that support your organization system
- Arrangement – You won’t have to wonder where something is if it has a specific place
- Pattern of Usage – Store seasonal items together, color-coding items such as dishes, clothing, decorative items can help in placement of storage. Know if you’ve used something or if it’s taking up valuable space and your time.
- Quality of the Material – only those things that are truly considered vintage or antique should be retained. Anything that is broken, tattered and torn that can be replaced – should be replaced. (exception-Shabby-Chic decor)
- Tools – computers, bookcases, drawers, closets, storage boxes and baskets can be considered ‘tools’ in organization. Select wisely and thoughtfully how you will organize and store your things.
- Budget – always work within your budget, plan and be aware just how costly being unorganized can be. Also, be thoughtful in spending for organizational material – sometimes you have to do more planning and waiting to keep yourself within a budget. Clearance and sales are your best friends!
- Computerize-Digitize – when you’re organizing, keep track of your valuables and collections. It’s wise to create a sort of inventory for yourself and for your family. This would be good for replacement and for taxes. Usually it’s best to have multiple storage places – a separate hard-drive and the cloud are fantastic.
- Form and Function – placement of items stored is important – when you evaluate the uses of a room those things that support those uses are stored there. Labeling also is vital if you store in boxes and baskets. If some of your storage is visible, make it appealing and part of your decor.
I will always love the library! I love it even more from all of the lessons I’ve learned. The library, its organizational system and function can truly help us in our efforts to organize our own lives.