Regularly librarians make decisions that affect our library users’ ability to access the materials we collect. Case in point: the Georgia State University College of Law Library DVD Leisure Collection.
Pam Brannon, Faculty Services Librarian, started our Leisure Collection to make more prominent select materials (mostly documentaries) that we already had. Subsequently, professors have requested video content from popular television series and movies to show in class or in other presentations, such as the Bioethics at the Movies series sponsored by our Student Health Law Association. The collection development policy for the collection requires that the title have a connection to the law or to some other aspect of our academic program, such as medical ethics or urban planning, and we accept suggestions from students as well as faculty. Our collection includes the full Law and Order series, The Princess Bride, Legally Blonde, Runaway Jury, and The Wire. Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement and Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served are a couple of the documentary titles in the collection.
From its inception, the collection has been organized in a traditional way: the DVDs are located in one place and arranged in call number order. To locate a particular DVD, a student would have to go to the online catalog kiosk, search for the title, write down the call number, and then search for the item. Earlier today we made a decision to think like our student users and adjust the collection. Instead of keeping the DVDs in call number order, we are going to rearrange the collection to be in alphabetical order—by title. Like in the old-school video stores.
Since moving the collection to a higher traffic area (right next to Study Aids), the DVDs have seen more use. Students have come to the library and paused to browse, looking for a movie or television series to accompany their Examples and Explanations.
By changing the labels on the DVD cases to include the first letter of the title, we make it easier for someone to look on the fly for a particular movie. We also are shifting the collection to use some extra empty shelves—allowing us to display many DVDs “face out,” which is a sure-fire way to increase their visibility and circulation.
Asking ourselves the question, “How do our users actually use this collection?” allowed us to reconsider our preconceived notions of how the library should function. We hope that the relatively small amount of effort it will take to adjust the call numbers in the catalog and re-label and sort the collection into alphabetical order will let our users know we are trying to meet them where they are.
Do you think this is a good idea? How do you try to meet your users where they are?