Time to Ponder Books: mild-effort journalism on the shelving system

This morning I read a brief blog post at Pages Unbound about the way libraries are now shelving books: by genre. Krysta’s concern is that many books are hard to categorize into one genre, and that readers are less likely to explore new books if they always head right to their comfort zone. However, Krysta reports that shelving by genre in a library increases circulation, according to a School Library Journal article she read.

Since it’s a sunny Saturday afternoon and I didn’t make any plans, I did some mild-effort investigation. My husband and I headed to Erasmus Books (which sells used books) in South Bend, IN, to talk to Phillip, the knowledgeable and kind owner with whom I’ve chatted many times before. This time, we met Megan, Phillip’s neighbor and steward of the Erasmus Books Facebook page. After describing the Pages Unbound blog post, I asked Phillip how he organizes his books.

Book Categories: "pornography, Satanism, voodoo, demonology, witchcraft."

Phillip said he tries to match the Dewey Decimal System in his used bookstore, which is located in an old house. I noticed shelves have labels like “Germany” and “Music.” There are divergences in Phillip’s system: history is categorized by country, except the United States, which is organized chronologically with U.S. history. That confuses some people, Phillip said. Art is pretty loose. There are two large shelves (at least) with art books that are disorderly. How do you shelve them, Phillip asks. By artist? Author? One might ask if art books are shelved by period or year or medium, so I can see the conundrum.

Then there’s the question of how the author wanted to be thought of. James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston could easily go in the African American section, but neither author wanted to be thought of as a “black author.” Just “author” will do, thank you. Phillip admits he puts Baldwin in both African American fiction and fiction, just to have both places covered.

After our bookstore adventure we headed to the main branch of the St. Joseph County Public Library where I sought out an employee at an information desk. I failed to ask if she is a librarian or other type of employee, but she did have great answers to my questions. When I described the Pages Unbound blog post, she looked aghast: what kind of undisciplined library would shelve books by genre is what her face seemed to say. Then, she admitted that a few years ago some of the branches tried changing to a genre system instead of the Dewey Decimal, but quickly changed back.

At this library they use the Dewey Decimal System for nonfiction books and use authors’ last names in fiction. The “big” genres are separate: westerns, mysteries, romances, and science fiction. Those books are also cataloged by author’s last name. There are sections for large print, teens, children, and comic books/graphic novels. The more it gets separated, the more I’m wondering what she means when she says they don’t separate books by genre. Sounds separated to me!

There’s also one large shelf for “new books” (which she defined as 6 months or newer) because so many patrons simply demand the latest books. I do wonder about these new book shelves. If the library makes it easy for patrons to grab a new book without exploring the rest of the library, what are patrons missing out on? Are library users in the U.S. all reading the same thing as a result? I don’t have answers; today was about mild-effort journalism.

What do you think? Have I caught the library in a liar-liar-pants-on-fire situation? Is the Dewey Decimal System essentially categorizing books by genre?



  1. Sounds like pretty much the same system my library uses. I don’t know that having a new books section is a bad thing. I suspect it could encourage readers to venture out of their comfort zone if that book, not in their preferred genre but that everyone is talking about, is sitting on display near the counter. I’ve certainly made a few impulse picks while waiting to check out my other books.

  2. Just to clarify, the posts on our blog are not typically co-authored. I wrote the post and it has my name on it, so it’s representing my views, not my co-blogger’s. Typically, I get my library news from reading School Library Journal, which someone typically shows me, but I don’t have a copy so I don’t have the exact article, though this one references the article and names a librarian who reported increased circulation numbers: https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=follett-unveils-genrefication-solution-for-K-12-libraries.

    • Excellent, thanks! I though it was a great blog post that got me thinking more about how libraries can shape our reading, and the idea of a place that’s supposed to be completely non-partisan shaping my reading in any way freaks me out. Granted, everything is shaping what I read: blog posts, Twitter, the NY Times, LeVar Burton, etc. I once read that people mostly commonly vote for whoever they saw on the last sign before they entered the polling station–that’s how easily influenced we are.

      I’ll clarify in my post that you wrote the article at Pages Unbound. Thanks for catching this!

      • It is interesting to think how labeling could maybe change people’s perceptions of a book. YA, for instance, has some serious detractors. If you didn’t call a book YA, would different people pick it up and enjoy it? Or what about dystopian novels? They were very trendy for awhile, even among people who “don’t like science fiction,” even though dystopian is often a sub-section of science fiction. Would genrefication change how/what people check out at the library?

        And I think it’s fascinating that you went and asked people about their thoughts! Especially intriguing was that, as you point out, your library seems half-way to genrefication already, but the librarian didn’t seem to think it was. I’m wondering how the librarian was imagining genrefication!

        And no problem! Thanks for clarifying! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • I went to your page and was like “I don’t see a nam…OH GOD THERE IT IS AND IT’S HUGE.” lol! I know recently you wrote about how some books that are not YA are getting categorized as such and what a problem that can be. I’m half wondering if YA is just a way to sell books at this point. However, there was one author who I think was getting chewed out because her book is for adults and has adult content, but it was marked as YA, so people were upset.

          • Haha! You’re too funny!

            Yeah, I do think people use YA to sell books sometimes. For some reason, that seems to be why Sarah J. Maas was labeled YA. I think she’s the author you’re thinking of. I did see a kid who looked thirteen checking out one of her books the other day. And I thought, “Ooh, ouch. Probably neither he nor his mother realizes she apparently writes what is bad erotica.” I haven’t read her books myself just because of the reputation they have for that.

              • I’ve read similar reviews. I got the impression people liked Maas’s first couple books, but then thought she was repeating herself or not doing great characterization in the later installments.

  3. So I just asked one of my librarian friends about Dewey Decimal. She said that, while it’s possible to arrange fiction with Dewey, it’s not practical, and so alphabetical order by genre is more efficient.

    I think most of the bookstores I go to break things down by general genre, while my library system is alphabetical, at least as far as fiction goes.

    • I wonder what they would do with the “anthropological novel” I read at the end of 2018. I had a hard time describing what it was, let alone some library person trying to decide where to stick its truthful lies.

      • I think one of the major drawbacks to genrefication in libraries is that the genre sections would be the “major” ones like fantasy, sci-fi, humor, romance, and historical fiction. Genres like magical realism, historical fantasy, and things that maybe we don’t really have a label for would end up probably in a general fiction section. I wonder if being in a sort of “miscellaneous” section would cause titles to be ignored or overlooked by browsers.

  4. Ha. I love yothur mid-journalism effort. I have never really thought of how how library does it. I know the chapter book section is organized by alphabetically with series grouped together and tagged. I like how this section is organized.

    • It makes a lot of sense, right? I think the most confusing section I’ve ever been in is comic books and graphic novels. They’re organized by series or author or character or publisher. It’s a hot mess. Granted, all the comic book series are with each other, but if I want to find a graphic novel in that mess, it’s nearly impossible.

      • Inserting me two bits – the graphic novel / comic section in me local library was overwhelming. They all have the same call number and are barely organized by author. I had to have the librarian find the one I was looking for and it took her about five minutes to find it on the shelf. Also me local library only separates the romances in the adult section. All the others are in with the adult fiction. I personally like when the four major genres are pulled out. I miss having a dedicated sci-fi and fantasty section!
        x The Captain

        • I’m not sure why those four genres are pulled out, but I think I remember it being that way at my hometown local library, too.

          I’ve enlisted help to find a book in the graphic novel/comic book section and spent 15 minutes with a library employee looking for a book. That section is a hot, steamy mess, and it there’s going to be any steamy messes, I want them in the romance section.

          • My library’s graphic novels are a mess, too. I think going by character could actually help as I am sure the average person doesn’t really know who is/was writing Spider-Man or Batman. There are also plenty of series that are written by multiple authors. And the books with thin spines get hidden on the shelves. I really don’t know how you’d fix all that.

            I also find it interesting that many people consider graphic novels to be a genre. I think it’s a medium. And it could be separated into genres like fantasy, superheroes, memoirs, etc. But even bookstores, which do organize by genre, put all graphic novels together like people who enjoy pictures will like all genres if they are illustrated. Isn’t that like saying, “Here’s the movie section. They’re all equally enjoyable for people who like movies”?

            • That is a good point. Jackie @ Death By Tsundoku just published a post about how YA is not a genre, and while she’s right, I never think of that. I think of it as this type of book that I don’t gravitate toward. Why? Because of the target audience, not because of the genre. I wonder if comic books and graphic novels are all crammed together just because those sections are fairly small (well, they are compared to other sections at my library). My library does separate the super hero stuff into it’s own, manga on its own, but then everything else is mishmash. I series like Lumberjanes isn’t a super hero story, but it’s a series, so it will occasionally get lumped in weird places.

              • Goodness I do wish that the graphic novels were separated by genre. It is true that they are a medium. And to Krysta, aye the movie comment is a good illustration. I do also think that the graphic novels should be separated by series too. I was reading the Narwhal series while at the library and the books one and two were on completely different shelves!
                x The Captain

              • Interesting point. I wonder, too, if graphic novels are shelved together because they’re often seen as ideal for reluctant readers. So you can point a child who doesn’t like reading to the graphic novel section and have them get all the graphic novels at once, instead of searching through the fiction section by author.

  5. I get sorting books by genre in a bookstore (maybe I’m just so used to B&N’s layout), but can definitely see how confusing it would be if you were trying to find a book you didn’t know much about it or one that couldn’t be easily categorized. I used to explore my library more, spending an hour just browsing, but these days there are just so many books to read, I go in with a plan either to grab a specific book or pick up holds. I’m sure there are corners of my library I have never seen.

    • I stopped wandering the library as much because my town has about a dozen branches in addition to the main library. There are libraries about every 2-3 miles here because the city is big enough for that need. What happens is I want a book, but it’s not at my branch, so I put a call on it to be transferred to my branch and I just pick it up at the holds shelf. However, ages ago I was wandering around one of the library branches and discovered urban fiction. That’s a thing, a thing I did not know about. Later, when I was teaching in a prison, I learned that urban fiction is THE go-to genre among prisoners. That just blew my mind. I think I was too shy to really look at the books on the library shelf because I felt like they weren’t meant for me.

      • Wow, that is a lot of libraries. We have two in my city, but they are connected to the county system, so like you, I can request a book another branch may have. Maybe you can request one of those, so you don’t feel so out of place browsing the section.

        • I guess I be one of those people who don’t mnd browsing in any section. I read what I want. I was looking to donate books to several prisons and was fascinated by what they would and wouldn’t take. Urban fantasy was a huge thing as was Filipino stories and dictionaries and books for home repair. They didn’t want most of what I had.
          x The Captain

          • One reason most prisons won’t take your books is because they were previously owned. Books typically must come brand-new from pre-approved sellers. Every so often, back when I was setting books on half.com, someone would request a book that came back to me. I realized the customer was a prisoner and the facility turned the book away. Now, I know social justice advocates are protesting right here, but you wouldn’t believe what people put on the pages of a book that the inmates in turn eat. It’s not safe for anyone–inmates, guards, visitors, etc.

            • Ah I see. I hadn’t thought about that angle. Makes sense. I had a professor once who worked with prisons that couldn’t figure out where the contraband was coming in. Turned out in was in the laptops of the “official” visitors. He broke up that particular ring.
              x The Captain

              • We had some desktop computers that didn’t connect to the internet. It was basically for writing papers. A professor could take in a laptop if they had clearance first, but I was always surprised this was allowed and only took in my laptop one time to show a speech. Depending on the correctional officer at shakedown, they could make things very hard for you. I had one guy who didn’t believe that I was teaching The Autobiography of Malcolm X and would give me a hard time every time I came in while he was working. He was supposed to be the nice one.

                  • I was teaching at a small four-year liberal arts school. It’s connected to the University of Notre Dame. Ever see that movie Rudy? Remember how he goes to Holy Cross first? That’s where I was teaching. Anyway, some folks at Notre Dame wanted to off a two-year degree to inmates in this prison about 45 minutes away. However, Notre Dame doesn’t have two-year degrees, but Holy Cross still does (it just to be a junior college before becoming a four-year school). So, Notre Dame connected with Holy Cross and helped organize the endeavor. I got into it because I wanted to help people. Although I would never call myself a hard-core social justice advocate (I’m just not a boots-on-the-ground kind of person), do I believe in the power of education and the way education can uplift a person, and I don’t mean getting a job. Thus, it’s always been my goal to teach people who are less privileged, such as at community colleges, Dreamers, and those incarcerated.

                    • I see. Thank ye kindly for yer answer. I also believe highly in the power of education for education sake. Some of me favourite classes in college were the ones nor for me major (which was stage management). I was the first in me family to get a college degree. The second was me sister. I think it is sad that now people are looking at community colleges as less valid then universities. So stupid. I also think our criminal justice system is a disgrace in general. Working as a paralegal taught me that. I am in the process of figuring out where to put me energy next. I am not really a boots on the ground kinda person either but I would like to have a job that helps make people’s lives better in some fashion. Not sure what yet though. Arrr!
                      x The Captain

                    • You majored in stage management? Did you ever work in a theatre? We just had a four-day stage management workshop at the civic theatre where I work to get people on board with some best practices. Where did you go to school for that?

                    • I got me undergrad degree at Syracuse University and me Masters at the University of Alabama (cause they paid me). I specialized in working in rotating repertory and teaching stage management I worked as a union stage manager for a decade and then got tired of the contract work and the long hours. So then I got a paralegal degree and worked in that for 5 years. Got out of that because they kept making me do family law. So now I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up (besides being a pirate of course!)
                      x The Captain

  6. Technically fiction would be under the 800s in the Dewey system, but libraries make it a separate section for ease of finding. Whether a library has sections for different fiction genres depends on the size of the collection – smaller libraries may have just one fiction section. I think it’s a little patronising to think that people won’t explore other sections of the library…

      • No, I don’t think you made people sound lazy – I think if people are in the mood to explore different kinds of books (like I explored the library when I was in my teens) then they will. ‘New book’ displays are important to showcase the different genres available. I think shelving by just a few genres can help ‘filter out’ the books we’d never be interested in, in addition to helping people who are only interested in certain genres to find their next reads quickly. The larger the ‘general fiction’ section is, the more overwhelming it seems.

        • General fiction is very overwhelming because you don’t know what’s in there. The back of the book may label it “Literature.” I know that when I was a younger person I went right for the exact same displays every time: Goosebumps and Sweet Valley High. I would take home a literal duffel bag of books. It wasn’t until I ran out of Goosebumps books that I wandered close by and found Christopher Pike, but I didn’t get his books (maybe they were a little too old for me at the time). When I wearied of Sweet Valley (and, let’s be honest, read all there was), I started wandering general fiction and felt horribly dumb because I had learned about all these books high school students should have read that I had not. I still remember wandering because I didn’t know what to do. I felt so lost as a reader, so I would grab a book based on the title alone. That’s how I found my first adult book, which I still remember vividly. The novel opened with the main character distressed because she had gotten her period at work. The internet says the book was published in 2004, but I swear I remember this happening in early high school (I graduated in 2003).

          • That’s really interesting. I used to love the teens’ section at my local library – I got through so many of the books for ‘younger teens’, then moved on to the older ones (they were separate sections)… then I launched myself into the sea of adult fiction and picked out anything that seemed relevant to me. I used the SF/fantasy section a lot too.

  7. Our library here is organized in a similar way, I think, with the addition of a local authors section. I admit I do browse the new books section, mostly because I visit pretty frequently and like seeing what they’ve added. New books means new to the library, not necessarily new publications, here at least. From my years working in bookstores I’ve learned that you can never please everyone with how you organize a store or how you categorize things!

    • How was the book store in which you worked organized? The used bookseller I spoke too felt similarly, except in stead of “please,” he said “predict” everyone. He tries to predict where a person will look for a book because he can’t really follow the Dewey Decimal System the same way a library can all on his own.

      • Predict is a good way to describe it too. You’re also trying to get customers from one section to the next, so organizing in such a way that they’ll find what they didn’t know they were looking for! Most sections were alphabetical by author. Fiction was divided into general, mystery, and sci-fi/fantasy. Biography/autobiography was by subject not author. History was sorted by location and then by author, if I recall correctly.

        • By subject makes for biography makes sense. I often don’t know who a biographer is, nor do I care, but I do want to read about a specific person. Now, I do know some readers are very particular about their biographers, and I can see the reason: some tend to write in a biased fashion, whereas others can keep their opinions and leanings toward some information and away from other out of it.

          • I think it makes sense too but there are always exceptions and then you wonder if you should shelve one particular book by a biographer who gets asked for frequently (Walter Isaacson comes for mind). It’s interesting that book organization seems like it should be so straightforward but then it’s really not.

  8. Hmmm these are all very good questions. And you’re right, libraries seem to organize by genre for at least a small part of their collection, so that’s hard to define.I guess that’s why I’m not a librarian-and why they need masters degrees! At least here in Canada they do…it’s no easy to task that’s for sure.

    • Librarians here needs a Masters in Library Science. I believe that allows them to choose which books to purchase and cull, and to help people find resources, which non-librarians are not allowed to do. They can walk you to a book, but they’re not supposed to recommend books/materials.

        • I’ve written about this before, but it is my understanding that to prevent a public entity (the library) from shaping public opinion by only recommending certain types of information, the person must have a MLS and be able to recommend all sorts of information without any bias.

  9. You raise interesting points! I personally like the idea of a “New Books” shelf. I worked at libraries throughout college, and I always found it frustrating to have to help patrons locate new popular books in the stacks. Beyond that, though, I feel like it could attract those who use the library for other services and inspire/encourage them to read.

      • Very sorry for the late reply – Iโ€™ve been in the middle of a move and havenโ€™t had wifi for a week.

        The best part definitely was learning about the wide range of services that a library offers. Going into it Iโ€™d naively thought of libraries as a place where books were stored/checked out, which they are, but I had no idea about things like ILL, weekly/monthly cultural programs, permanent study spaces, technological services, etc. Learning about all that, and seeing how regularly those services were used, was eye opening.

        The worst part was having to deal with the occasional hostile patron. There were a few times when someone would try stealing books or checking out something they didnโ€™t have access to, which was really stressful.

  10. Oooh, you have definitely intrigued me to do some of my own research! Way to be a Scooby, Melanie! I’m super impressed.

    Um. I know that Dewey is only for non-fiction, and all books (fiction or not) have a call number. I cannot imagine filing all books in fiction by author last name. I won’t lie, I don’t keep great track of the authors I’m reading. If books weren’t organized at least a bit by genre (or format, such as audiobook or graphic novel) I doubt I’d be as well-read. I’d be picking books off shelves at random.

    Perhaps this type of demi-genre sorting just makes the librarians’ lives easier? It certainly makes my life easier!

    Also, 10 points for Nick, who went on this adventure! XD

    • I didn’t realize the Dewey Decimal System is only for non-fiction. The things you learn. I like that books are shelved by last name because sometimes I’m looking for an author, can’t find them, get mad, and then pick out a book close to where the last name should have been on the shelf and try something new. Picking books at random is totally my jam.

      • I hope you don’t mind if I jump in here! The Dewey Decimal System is largely used for non-fiction, but you can usually find folk tales and fairy tales in the 300s, poetry in the 811s, and even some novels and drama in the 800s. I think myths go in the 200s with religions. But most libraries will put the bulk of their novels in a separate fiction section. I’ve mostly seen fiction anthologies, I think, in the 800s and usually in college libraries for some reason.

        • I’m glad you jumped in! I thought I understood the Dewey Decimal System, but I now realize I just know how to find books on the shelves, whether it’s a public library or a giant research library with 14 floors. I don’t get how the system is actually organized, and definitely didn’t realize that the DDS doesn’t include fiction. Why do you think fiction anthologies are shelved with the DDS? Is there something different about them?

          • I suppose the thing about the Dewey Decimal System is that you don’t necessarily need to know how to use it since we have online catalogs. If I want elephant books, I just search by keyword and go to where it says. I don’t even need to know to start in the 600s or anything. If I go to the library often enough, eventually I’ll just know animal books are in a certain aisle and browse that way. So, yes, I guess Dewey is somewhat useless without the catalog?

            I don’t really know why fiction anthologies are sometimes shelved by DDS. Or why fairy tales and poetry are. I think more people might read the fairy tales and the poetry if they were located next to the fiction.

            • I’m also glad you jumped in, Krysta! Thank you for helping clarify. My knowledge of Dewey was more extensive when I was in school, as search functionality wasn’t great on the computers yet. #DOSBasedPrograms I didn’t realize that poetry was shelved using DDS… I *did* know about myths and fairy tales! I guess that makes sense to me, as these are anthropological as well as fiction. Finding 398 completely changed my library experience in middle school. I had a voracious appetite for fairy tales!

              Well, I wonder if the improvement of search functions and catalogs is truly what’s making DDS less relevant. It might not be so much that libraries are shelving by genre or whatnot, but that the technology is changing the way people are thinking about and seeking out books. I know technology has drastically changed my own library experiences over time. Intersting theory, at least.

              • I didn’t even consider that tech would change the way we use libraries. I distinctly remember using a card catalog. I would find a book I liked and then flip through the cards and look for interesting titles nearby. However, I didn’t know the DDS back then.

                • I recall those days of the card catalogue. I’ve long since stopped using it, though I know where it is at my current library (do they still maintain it? I have no idea!). In fact, my knowledge of the DDS is what helped me find and fall in love with Asian mythology!

              • I would actually love to see the myths and fairy tales moved out of the 300s to be closer to the fiction/fantasy sections because I think people would love those books–but they don’t know they’re in the nonfiction section! But it was one of my favorite sections when I was growing up.

                That’s interesting…. I wonder, though, how many people are using the catalogs to search. I see a surprising number of people march straight up to the help desk for their books. They don’t know how to use the catalog and don’t want to learn. But did they use technology (the Internet) to learn of the book in the first place? Does that mean they no longer need to browse since they are coming in with specific titles in mind?

                • It’s the collections of myths and fairy tales which I find more of in the 300s. But once we get to retellings, those appear in the Fiction. It’s super confusing. I’d love to see the source material together with the retellings. I had no idea until recently that there are TWO Snow White stories from the original Grimm! There is Snow White and Rose Red and Little Snow White. Retellings cover some of both of these stories typically. It would be so cool to better understand this!

                  Yes, I see most people who are seeking out books go straight to the circulation desk. The rest are sitting around using the other library resources. Occasionally, I’ll see someone scoping out the shelves, but they are almost always browsing instead of seeing our a particular book. Those who don’t know where a book might be don’t seek to find that information on their own. Instead, they go to the help desk.

                  Personally, I always search for books I want using the online catalog and just pick up my books from the circulation desk. I browse when I don’t know what I want, or ask staff for thoughts. I rarely use the catalog to find specific books for myself! Why do that, when there are people around to help me? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. I argue with my local Indie book shop (in Perth, Western Australia) because they don’t emphasize Australian books and that makes them hard to find, particularly in YA where I don’t know the authors (buying for grandkids). All bookshops in my experience sort by genre, and most second-hand bookshops have separate shelves for Australian. Libraries I think are sorted into kids, YA and adults and then purely by author. Interestingly, I was introduced to C19th Australian women because my local library temporarily put them out in their own shelves.

  12. I loved that you went out “into the field” for research for this post! I thought the Dewey Decimal system was only used for nonfiction and fiction was sorted by target age range (adult, YA, and children’s in different sections) and by genre in those respective sections. At least that is how it seems to be arranged in my library… I’m going to have to verify with my librarian.

    My library also has a new release section, but I think it is a positive thing. While it is true that many people tend to reach for the shiny new books, BUT they really can be used as a gateway to older books. Maybe someone will read a new book by an author, then go back and read all the author’s previous works. Maybe someone will pick up a new book in a genre they don’t tend to frequent, then go and start reading more books in that genre.

    • I hope you’re right. One thing I never mentioned in this post are special displays that go out in the library. I don’t remember any in my hometown, but at the libraries here they will have a table devoted to grilling in the summertime, which maybe switched out for scary books for all ages closer to Halloween. Right now, of course, are books for Black History Month.

  13. The library you visited sounds very much how my library is organized, with Dewey Decimal for nonfiction and otherwise categorized very broadly by genre (and alphabetically within that genre). Usually I only pop into the library when I’ve requested a book, or if I’ve looked online and seen that my branch has a copy of the book I’m looking for, but once I’m there I always browse the new releases section, and will occasionally browse fiction, mystery, and YA (my library is next to a high school so it’s got a massive YA section) and the various displays that the librarians have set up. Sometimes I find a random book that sounds interesting! I like being able to browse – but I don’t do it all that often because otherwise I’ll try to check out all the books. Like right now I’ve got 2 library books checked out that I’m fairly certain I won’t read by the time they are due back.
    And also – when I happen to go to the library, I’ve never seen the New Releases section without a bunch of people in front of it looking at the books.

    • Ever since libraries got computerized, easy to use card catalogs, I’ve mostly stopped browsing. I’ll look up a book on the online catalog system on my computer at home first, and then I’ll just go get it. I used to wander around my library all the time when they had one computer that had access to a card catalog, and everybody was trying to use it at the same time. It was clunky. It was the 90s.

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