Monday, August 29, 2005

What was said to the Book Standard about the Ministry of Reshelving

A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from an editor of the Book Standard asking about my linking to the Ministry of Reshelving from this blog. For some reason my e-mail response to her became, by the time she wrote her story, a posting to my blog. Since she has directed so many people to the blog with the suggestion that there was discussion (originally only a link) I have decided to post what I wrote to her dated August 18, 2005 which is the sum total of my "discussion" of the matter.


Good morning Rachel,
I collect curious, interesting, and useful stories and links and post them on my archives blog. An endorsement ought not be supposed. However, I thought the Ministry of Reshelving was a funny idea in book stores, especially in stores that sell new books. OK, particularly in the big box stores…where one can find “new books” sporting coffee stains or cookie crumbs. Both catalogers and marketers are looking for all reasonable access points. Why not put “1984” with politics or history? Or put autobiographies in fiction. Or cooking or gardening books in “fashion.” If the store is mainly interested in the sale then what difference does it make where the purchaser finds his/her copy. They sell premium line-of-sight space to the highest bidder so complaints suggesting that “reshelving” is a disruption of organization fall flat to me.

It is a different matter in libraries where one can find folks actively hiding materials for grading advantage. (I even saw that in my MLS program!) There is probably a good deal less browsing in libraries than in book stores these days. Materials listed as available but not on the shelf create problems for students or researchers without the means to purchase their own copy or without access to other institutions where another copy can be acquired. ILL offices are often unwilling to seek alternate copies of books listed as in the catalog until it is listed as “lost.”

The only comments I have heard about the MoR from librarians is to be critical of the quality of the images posted! I am an archivist so my materials are behind locked doors to begin with. Occasionally some of my students attempt to do accidental creative reshelving but I usually catch it.

There you are, both more and less, than you were looking for I imagine.



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