“Where’s the fiction section?”

“Where’s the fiction section?”  is a question library staff are frequently asked, but the answer isn’t simple.  Unlike K-12 school and public libraries, most college-level academic libraries today use the Library of Congress (LC) Classification System to organize their books.   Books are assigned a combination of letters and numbers that are used to arrange them on the shelf by subject.   Fiction is not separated from non-fiction on the shelves.  Instead, most fictional works fall into the literature (“P”) section, along with biographical and critical works about authors – which is really handy for doing research.  Literary works are further subdivided by country and chronological period.  For example, books by and about British writers usually have call numbers that start “PR” and books by and about American writers usually have call numbers that start “PS.”  More recent writers have higher numbers on the second line of their call numbers:  Edgar Allan Poe books are shelved in the PS 2600’s; Stephen King books fall in PS 3561’s; Khaled Hosseini’s works start PS 3608.   

It often takes 3 lines of the call number to fully locate a specific author on the shelves: Ernest Hemingway works start PS 3515 .E37; Stephen King works actually start PS 3561 .I483.  As you can see, you can’t count on finding an author on the shelves just based on their last name alone.  Use the online library catalog (http://vccslinc.vccs.edu/F/?func=find-b-0&local_base=jsrcc) to find an author’s call number area, then go to the shelves armed with that information.  It will save you a lot of time!

Fiction can also be found in other areas of the library. The Popular Titles/Bestseller Collection at each campus contain a few non-fiction titles, but most titles are fiction – recent suspense, mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, romance, and general fiction meant for pleasure reading.  Because they are only in the collection temporarily, they are not fully cataloged and are not arranged by LC call number.  (The automated library system needs to have some call number to display, so the online catalog shows these books with call numbers all starting “ZZ 9999” – but these “dummy” call numbers aren’t on the books and aren’t really used.)

Several other small collections in the library contain fiction, as well.  The Juvenile Collection (Downtown and Parham) and the ESL Collection (Parham) include works of fiction.  The Audiobook Collection (at all 3 campuses) also has fiction as well as non-fiction titles.  All of these collections are arranged by LC call number within their shelves.

Remember, the online catalog is your friend – use it to help you locate the author you want to read or research.

The Academic Adventures of Jack and Susan at JSRCC: an introduction to what the Reynolds libraries can do for you

Jack and Susan were sitting in the commons area of the college discussing an upcoming sociology assignment. They had been asked to write a research paper related to a controversial social issue for Dr. Bob’s class. Jack remarked that he had no idea where to begin. Susan suggested they talk to a librarian. Here is what they learned.
     The college’s librarians provide face-to-face assistance to library users during all hours when the library is open. Each library is open approximately 65 hours per week while classes are in session. When users are not in the library, they can email a reference librarian using the Ask a Librarian link found on the library’s web site at http://www.reynolds.edu/library/forms/libraryforms.htm. Librarians make every effort to respond within 24 hours. Additionally, students can use LRCLive to engage in a real-time chat through the Internet with a librarian for assistance. Of course they are always welcome to telephone a librarian for help.
     During 2006-2007 there were nearly 200,000 visits to the library. Over 26,400 reference questions from more than 10,500 users were received and answered at the Reference Desks of the three libraries. Approximately 19,000 items were circulated. Over 1,000 items were either loaned to or borrowed from other libraries worldwide.
     Jack and Susan also found out that the libraries provide a wealth of resources: books, periodicals, CDs, DVDs, and electronic databases. The libraries have over 85,000 volumes and approximately 3,000 audio-visual materials. Through several consortia agreements, the libraries have access to an array of electronic databases covering a wide range of topics including arts, humanities, social science, business, information systems, health sciences, mathematics, science and technology. The libraries’
electronic collections are searchable through over 200 online databases. Accessible through these databases are millions of full-text journal articles and more than 750,000 other full-text reports, pamphlets, newspapers, proceedings, and more. A proxy server has been set up to enable the faculty and students to access these databases 24/7, regardless of their geographical location. Last year, over 234,000 records were retrieved from the library databases.
     Just as Jack and Susan were ready to leave the library, Dr. Bob, a new member of the faculty came over to speak with them concerning their research papers. Jack and Susan told him that they received a lot of valuable information about the research process from the librarian. The librarian then asked Dr. Bob if he was aware of the information literacy services offered by the library. She informed Dr. Bob that he could schedule a session for his class in which the librarians will teach effective online search strategies and critical thinking skills. Last year the libraries offered 130 instruction sessions that were customized to the specific assignments and 2,321 students attended these sessions. In addition, the libraries offered nine general sessions on information literacy skills entitled Research the Smart Way. Instructors can collaborate with librarians to create customized course guides to be linked into their Blackboard courses.
     Armed with what they learned about the library resources and services, Jack and Susan felt confident that they would be able to complete their assignments successfully. Dr. Bob assured the librarian that he would request library instruction for his class at the beginning of next semester. They all now realize that the libraries play a vital role in the teaching and learning process at Reynolds. Jack and Susan vowed to each other to visit the library daily, and it looks as if the library is going to be their second home during their stay at Reynolds.

(The contents of this post recently appeared in the College’s DOT.COM March 2008 newsletter.)

National Library Week, April 15-21

Celebrate National Library Week, April 15-21, by visiting us or your local public library!  Sponsored by the American Library Association, National Library Week is celebrated each April at libraries across the country, in honor of the contributions made by libraries and library staff in schools, campuses, and communities.  Many libraries host special events in connection with this week, which was first celebrated in 1958.  See what your library has to offer — it’s much more than just books, these days.