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Casual Library Assistants Resource Guide: Shelving

General Guidelines for Shelving

To properly shelve books, a few rules must be followed.

First, the books must be organized in call number order. Books on a cart or in a shelving area may not always be in the correct order, so begin by arranging books in call number order on a cart before starting to shelve.

  1. Use the range signs as guides to which books should be shelved in each section. Range signs will list the beginning and end of the call number range of materials that should be shelved there.
  2. Check the call numbers of the items on both sides of where you are going to place an item. In other words, you must check the call numbers of the item on the left and the item on the right of the one you wish to shelve. This will ensure that it will be in the correct location. This is important particularly If you are at the end of a shelf, end of a range etc.
  3. As you shelve the books, "edge" all the books on the shelf as you go. Edging refers to lining up all the books with the front edge of the shelf. It ensures that thinner items do not get pushed to the back of shelves and fall behind. It also keeps the library looking tidy and well-maintained.
  4. Ensure that book ends are used to support the materials. 
  5. Watch for crowded shelves and do not shelves items too tightly. Too much pressure on the books can damage or break the spines. If an item will not slide into place with a gentle push, the shelf is too full. The proper method to remove an item is to push in the volumes on either side of it, then carefully grasp the center of the spine and remove it. Do NOT pull from the top of the spine. If shelves are too crowded to add your items, contact your supervisor for guidance.
  6. If there are books lying on the shelves, bring them to the service desk to record as a book pick up (INTL USE).