The Kahn-Sibley Medical Library at the Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, AL recently underwent a huge change. All books in the library’s collection were originally alphabetized by subject and then by call number under each “subject.” The library’s print collection followed this organizational system for some time, but the McMahon-Sibley Medical Library at Princeton Baptist Medical Center, a sister library, already followed the National Library of Medicine classification system. Emily Harris, solo librarian at Kahn-Sibley, felt all collections within the Brookwood Baptist Health hospital libraries should follow the same classification system to help create a consistent user experience. Harris, along with MLIS intern, Alanna Cole, reorganized and shifted the entire print collection.
After two days of shifting and going through the print collection at Kahn-Sibley, the monograph materials were successfully arranged by the NLM call number order. The tremendous task of shifting allowed the collection to be thoroughly inspected for out of date and miscataloged materials. Book shelf labels were updated to better represent the “subjects” of the newly-ordered books. New signs clarified the NLM subject classifications to help patrons find books after the completion of the project. Harris stated, “I believe residents, doctors, and medical students are going to have an easier time finding the exact book they need thanks to this shifting project. The goal is to allow materials to be found as quickly as possible – with a little help from new signs and labels!”
For instance, blue labels were added to all surgery books and signs were made to note these changes. This labeling system was to ease the transition for surgery residents as they most frequently use the physical books in an eBook era. There have had frantic questions about why cardiothoracic atlases, for example, are no longer shelved with ALL other surgery texts.
Any medical librarian intimidated by the thought of undertaking a massive reordering of materials within the library can rest assured that the project will have ample benefits in terms of collection development and collection knowledge. Do not hesitate to reach out for help by seeking out other librarians, volunteers, or interns to help expedite the project as well.
Submitted by Alanna
UA MLIS graduate student