As part of my usual plea to completely audit library services and create web-based versions, I’ve been thinking lately of examples that could bridge the final and most difficult gap . . . the stacks.

This isn’t Barnes and Noble?

Really, I don’t think it’s a bad idea or one that is particularly difficult. There are many times that patrons will ask me for “the World War II section” or something like that. Well, it’s hard to say where that is, but the really they just want to browse and need to know where to start.

Integrating Visual Cues

OPACs are great. No doubting that. But in the end, they just spit out a list of items that meet a query. When patrons have a fuzzy idea of what they want, queries like this are a problem. So what can we do? When they are in the building, it’s easy to walk to the stacks (relatively) to look through books. But with delivery systems and distance patrons, this isn’t always on option.

Well, the easiest solution would be to make a more browsable catalog. Here’s an example of something that could work. Ebling library in Wisconsin added this widget to their webpage to give a quick visual guide showing new titles. Granted, it’s not a complete catalog and they aren’t necessarily in order, but they could be.


This is something that can be easily developed and with Google Books integration into library catalogs. It’s only a short step to a visual tour of the stacks.