The Librarians Who Stare at Books


Photo by Flickr user Sydigill.

While you’e staring at your outlines, study aids, casebooks, or computer screens, you may have recently noticed an odd sight: library employees staring very, very hard at shelves. We’re not doing this to prank you, or as a part of some incredibly boring performance art piece. What we’re doing is something called “shelf reading.” Shelf reading is a process where the library staff systematically looks at all of the books in the library to make sure everything’s okay. Every year around this time we divide the library up among the library staff and assign rows of books for each person to “read.” If a book is out of place, we’ll put it in the right spot. If a book looks like it needs some attention, like repair or rebinding, we’ll take care of that, too.

So if you see one of the library employees standing in a row for an inordinately long period of time staring at a shelf, don’t worry about us. We’re okay – we’re just shelf reading, making sure that the library’s collection is all okay. Well, unless you see one of us sprawled out face-down on the floor. In that case, please go get help.

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