Frequently Asked Questions: Reclassification

  1. Why bother switching from Dewey Decimal to Library of Congress classification?
  2. Can the library stay open during reclassification?
  3. How does a patron know whether a book is still shelved under the old system or classified under the new system?
  4. How long does it take to reclassify a library's collection?
  5. How does a library know how many of its DDC books will reclassify into a particular LC range?
  6. Where do books go that don't immediately fit into their new space?
  7. How do you even out the shelf space so that the books are evenly distributed?
  8. Do you find books that are not recorded in the library's database?
  9. How do you handle returns during a reclassification?
  1. Why bother switching from Dewey Decimal to Library of Congress classification?

    Library of Congress classification is ideal for academic and large public libraries because it allows for deeper subdivisions within a subject. In academic collections, LC classification makes processing a new book faster and less expensive, because LC classmarks for these titles are more readily available in WorldCat and other bibliographic databases. In some academic institutions, LC classification is required for support of post-graduate programs.

  2. Can the library stay open during reclassification?

    Yes. Staying open requires a little extra work on the part of your staff to help patrons find their materials, but our process is designed to allow your library to continue to function while the books are being relabeled and shelved in their new sections. Your catalog can be updated frequently to reflect new classification numbers as items are moved. In large libraries, we typically update the catalog each day.

    During the operation, a book will be in one of three locations:
    • On its original shelf, still labeled with its DDC classmark
    • On its new shelf, labeled with the new LC classmark
    • In a temporary location (swing space) while the new shelf space is being arranged to make room

  3. How does a patron know whether a book is still shelved under the old system or classified under the new system?

    When we reclassify your books, the barcode of each item is scanned. At the end of the day, week, or whatever the reporting period is, the list of scanned barcodes is sent to your ILS manager, who will then switch the call number display for each barcode so that your patrons will see the new call number and location. Only items on the batch currently in transition will require assistance from library staff to locate.

  4. How long does it take to reclassify a library's collection?

    That really depends on a number of variables, but we'd be happy to estimate the time for you, based on the specifics of your situation. Just drop us a note. Some factors that affect project duration include:
    • Number of items to be reclassified — One technician can gather, sort, label, and shelve around 30 books in an hour.
    • Number of existing items to shift — One technician can shift from 300 to 500 books an hour, depending on distance and layout.
    • Available swing space — Optimal space for shifting books would be to have about 30% of your shelving empty.
    • Problem areas — Issues that can delay your project always turn up. From arranging space around the schedule of a construction project to ferreting out damaged materials to dealing with inconsistent cataloging on older collections, we've seen just about everything.
      Each library will have its own problems. We can identify many of these potential speedbumps in the planning process, make plans to deal with the issues, and establish the project timeline accordingly.
    • Number of staff — We'll help with the calculations to determine the right number of technicians to meet your deadlines, minimize disruption, and manage costs for your project.
      We can always speed things up by increasing the number of technicians on our tagging team. If we estimate that a crew of ten people can get it done in three months, and you need it done in two, we can simply add five people more to the team.
    • Experience — The level of skill and expertise in the team running your reclassification project is absolutely critical to staying on schedule. The key is to have a skilled project manager to carry out the project.

  5. How does a library know how many of its DDC books will reclassify into a particular LC range?

    You won't find exact equivalencies between DDC and LC ranges. For example, your books in the 000 to 100 range in DDC may be spread throughout the alphabetical scheme of the LC system.

    At the end of our data reclassification phase, each item will have both a DDC classmark and an LC classmark in the MARC record. With that information in hand, we create a pivot table to show how many books from an old DDC class range line up in the new LC class ranges.

    From this pivot table, a skilled Backstage project manager can map out how many books are in each new range and then put together an efficient sequence for relabeling and moving each section.

  6. Where do books go that don't immediately fit into their new space?

    We'll need to identify areas in your library where shelf space can be made available for books that are being held until their new destination can be cleared out. We call this transitional area "swing space."

    The less swing space you have, the more shifting we will need to do, and the longer the project will take. Ideally, we'd like to see about 30% of your shelf space empty, making room for easy movement. Of course, those optimal conditions rarely exist. We'll work with you to arrange additional swing space by temporarily consolidating stacks and by making space on book carts, temporary shelving, or even tables and floors, where needed.

  7. How do you even out the shelf space so that the books are evenly distributed?

    First, we discuss with the library how much space you want on each shelf. If you are planning for slow growth in the print collection, we can fill shelves to 90%. If you plan for faster growth in a particular area, filling to 75% or less may be appropriate. Then we plan out the order of processing, designating sections of shelving for each LC classification range with your fill ratio in mind.

  8. Do you find books that are not recorded in the library's database?

    All the time. When dealing with serials, it is quite common to find that only part of a series is recorded in the catalog. We also find books that have simply fallen out of the database, either because they were put into circulation without a proper record, or were misshelved at some point in the past and eventually reported as missing. Typically, these books are moved to an exceptions area so that library staff can add the book to the database.

    One of the side benefits of a reclassification project is that every book will be touched, so it is a perfect opportunity to tally up an inventory and clean house.

  9. How do you handle returns during a reclassification?

    Although some details will vary according to your preferences, the basic process revolves around clear communication between Backstage and your library's staff.

    Backstage sends a daily update to your staff to show what sections have been reclassified, what is being reclassified now, and what hasn't been touched yet. This gives library staff an up-to-date picture of where books currently reside.

    If a returning book has already been relabeled with a new classmark, it can be shelved in the new location. If it is part of the section currently being processed, it can be set on a cart for Backstage personnel to label and shelve. If a book's section has not been reclassified yet, it can be returned to its old location.