As simple as A‑to‑Z

Killam Library is reorganized

- November 27, 2007

You can leave the compass at home this year if you’re embarking on an end-of-term adventure through the Killam Library stacks. Your epic quest has been made easier thanks to a massive reorganization of the library’s entire collection.

“We moved every book in the library,” explains University Librarian William Maes, who oversaw the reordering of the Killam collection in a straight A-to-Z call number sequence, ably managed by librarian Gwyn Pace and circulation supervisor Sandy Dwyer. Now, the call numbers begin on the southeast corner of the fourth floor and move clockwise alphabetically down to the northeast corner of the second.

As logical as this new system might seem, it wasn’t done purely for its own sake. It’s part of the library’s larger strategy to emphasize digital materials and reclaim space lost to its expanding physical collection. When the doors to the Killam were opened in 1971, it was designed to accommodate a student body about half of Dalhousie’s current size.

“In those 36 years, much of the space in the building got absorbed as our collection expanded, including student study space,” explains Mr. Maes, noting the confusing ordering system was the result of a piecemeal approach by which the Killam collection was shelved over time to avoid frequent and costly major collection moves as new materials were added. “We reached a point where we really needed to recapture some of that space for students.”

With physical expansion unlikely in the short term, library administration found another space solution as a by-product of the digital revolution. Over the past several years, the library has dramatically expanded the number of academic journals and periodicals that the university has access to digitally, while simultaneously scaling back its physical journals collection. For this move, the university has relocated a significant number of academic journals and periodicals to off-campus storage, allowing it to “liberate” 4,500 square feet of student study space.

What’s more, the journals that remain in the Killam stacks are now located in their proper call number location throughout the collection. This means that as the library continues to store periodicals as computer files, more space will become available to accommodate a growing university population without the need for further major collection moves.

So how efficient is the new system? I put it to the test by locating a book that properly reflected past experiences navigating the Killam: The Maze, a 1967 novel by Panos Karnezis. After a quick Novanet search to find the call number, I marched to the third floor and found all the stacks clearly labeled and in their proper order. It took me a few minutes to locate the book.

Mr. Maes says library staff has received mostly positive feedback about the changes and “business as usual” is the best reward. It means people are finding what they’re looking for.


All comments require a name and email address. You may also choose to log-in using your preferred social network or register with Disqus, the software we use for our commenting system. Join the conversation, but keep it clean, stay on the topic and be brief. Read comments policy.

comments powered by Disqus