As you may have noticed, we have a bit of a space problem in Africana. In other parts of the library, a book with the (hypothetical) call number MAIN 305.872 H23 would be in pretty much one place: in the East tower on the 3rd floor, in between books with the call numbers 305.871 E25 and 305.873 G88. Unfortunately, in Africana that is not the case. The source of our space problems is that given that we are a collection of distinction, we try to collect everything we can from and about Africa, and given our rate of growth, we simply don't have the space to accommodate everything. Respite is on the way in the form of the library's new off-site storage facility, but that is still a few years off. The purpose of this blog entry is to provide a little current tutorial on searching for books in Africana - and today we will discuss just the 300s.
We use the Dewey Decimal system to catalog and order the books in Africana. The Dewey system is based on subject (the 300s are books on and about the Social Sciences). Our books are spread out over several locations in both the 5E tower of Main and in the basement (lower level area). Generally speaking, Afri folios, Regular-sized 300s, 800s, and 900-968s, Large 300s, 700s, 800s, and 900-967s, along with current periodicals, sample files, vertical files, and any other special materials are upstairs in 5E. In our lower level area are Regular-sized materials with call numbers 000s, 100s, 200s, 400s, 500s, 600s, Large 000s-200s, 400s-600s, and 968-999s. In the Africana annex, located near our the lower level area in room B251, is our collection of Afri reference books, bibliographies, and Regular-sized 700s.
It's important, when looking up call numbers using the library's online catalog, to also note the location of a given item. If the book is in the Main stacks, the location will say "MAIN." If the book is in Africana in either 5E or in our lower level area, the location will say "Africana" (located in 5E), "Africana Lower Level Storage" (located in the basement), or "Africana Annex room B251" (also located in the basement).
Now to the main event: the 300s.
Let's say you're looking for a book that has the call number 385.45 X2. This is a regular size book, not a large book (we'll talk about large books later). There are three places that the book could be: 1. In the regular shelving area. 2. In the gold section. Or, 3. On a book truck.
So, off you go. You look on the shelf in our "regular shelving" area (with the white labels at the end of the shelf). It's not there. Where do you go next? To the "Gold section"! There are gold-colored signs that lead the way to this extended shelving area. The Gold section has 300s, 800s, and 900s. This section was created as a place to shelve books that did not fit on our shelves in sections we couldn't expand. You find the place on the shelf where the book's call number should be, but it's not there either. Now what? The final place to look is the book trucks. Okay, there are a lot of trucks. Seems overwhelming. Let me reassure you: Each book truck is in order. Each book truck has only one sequence of call numbers (300s, 800s, or 900s). The book you are looking for would only be in one place on a given truck. The book trucks are clustered by call number - all the 300s trucks are near each other, all the 800s trucks are near each other, same with the 900s, and the 966s have their own trucks. You check the 300s trucks - and you found it!! Hurrah! On you go. Or, disaster strikes: you don't find it. What do you do now?
Report the book missing at the circulation desk on the first floor. When you do this, we are notified that you looked for the book, couldn't find it, and still want it. A hold is placed on the book in your name. We search for the book the next day, and if we find it, you can pick it up at circulation.
So to recap, if you find yourself looking for a book with a call number in the Africana 300s:
1. Confirm the location code (and that the book is not checked out).
2. Check the white-labeled regular shelving
3. Check the gold-labeled gold extended shelving
4. Check the book trucks that are labeled 300s.
5. If you can't find it, ask for help or report the book missing at circulation.
Next up: the 800s!