II. Reference and User Services

II. Reference and User Services

2.1

One area of our library that I thought was lacking in appeal and usefulness for young readers and their families was our Early Readers section.  The books were arranged alphabetically by author, but otherwise presented a homogeneous mass of books with no reliable way to distinguish which books were best for brand new readers and which would suit a more accomplished reader.  Publishers use their own criteria for leveling so that a level one in one series may be harder to read than a level three in another series. I talked with staff and parents who found selecting an early reader to be frustrating, and circulation of our early readers showed that they weren’t being utilized as much as other categories.  To make this section easier and more appealing to navigate, I undertook a project to use one standard to assign each book a level.  The criteria were based on the number of words and lines per page, the language used, and the complexity of the story. The framework for the project came from a presentation at the FOCUS on Youth Institute that I attended last September which included suggested work count limits and also where some popular series were leveled at their library.   I also created a sign to help browsers find their appropriate level. The books are now arranged by level, as well as by author, and I expect that usage will increase. This project was just completed, so I will look at circ stats in another couple of months and see if they’ve gone up.  Another benefit of doing this project is that it became abundantly clear that we didn’t have enough entry-level readers.  I am working with our selector to make sure that the bulk of Early Readers purchased this year are in the  first level.