The staff at Columbia County's Gibbs Library uses a practical and time-proven approach in the shelving of books for its youngest library users. The children's book collection at Gibbs is constantly growing and is heavily used by casual browsers and those in the Accelerated Reader program. Experience shows that in an area such as the "picture book section," it is virtually impossible to keep it in perfect alphabetical order. Toddlers and even younger children select their books from this area.
Even the best-intentioned children and parents will not always get a book returned to its exact place in alphabetical order, but chances are very good that a book -- a Dr. Seuss book for example -- will at least be returned to the S section. No matter how much library staff encourages patrons not to return books to the shelves, many preschoolers who are in a helping mode and who are most likely getting lots of positive attention at home for putting things away when they're done are apt to return books to the shelves. ...
Please don't suggest parents curb their very small children from looking at the books on the shelves. If the choice is between having messy shelves or a child whose library experience reflects a "don't touch" attitude, give me the messy shelves. ...
Please keep in mind that many of those Accelerated Reader titles would not be there at all except for the fact that the Gibbs staff requested the purchase of titles that were being used in their nearby schools.
Many of the books on the Accelerated Reader list are popular in their own right. There are several schools in Columbia County using the Accelerated Reader program, which means lots of children from lots of schools are all hunting for the same books, so searching for them may take longer than expected. This may make it difficult to find some titles when you want them, but isn't it wonderful that parents are willing to go "the extra mile" to hunt them down for their children?
Karen S. Gross, Augusta
(Editor's note: The author is the Children's Services coordinator for the East Central Georgia Library System, of which Columbia County is a part.)