The third installment of “Labels, labels, labels” is a part which is actually about labels.
So, to summarize the trek so far:
#1 Pick your call number schema
#2 Decide on your shelving situation
#3 Pick your classification labels
Many libraries use classification labels to distinguish their genre collections; mystery, science fiction, large print, fantasy, etc. You can look at any library supply company and find spine labels for almost any subject.
To be honest, I don’t know how any library could use all of the different types of labels available. A library could have hundreds of different collections, and not use all the labels out there.
There are a whole lot of subject labels for different genres, but there don’t seem to be nuanced subject labels for graphic novels. Spine labels help shelvers distinguish collections if your call numbers are similar, but they also give visual clues to patrons browsing the collection. Think about it, if you have a children’s fiction GN collection, children’s non-fiction, teen, superhero, adult non-fiction, and adult fiction, you might want to have different labels for each section.
Unfortunately, there are not as many genre graphic novel stickers. You pretty much have three choices; graphic novels, comic book, or graphic non-fiction (cause that doesn’t sound dirty AT ALL!).
So what do you do with kid’s graphic novels? Or young adult? Do you put two stickers on the spine risking covering more of the vital information patrons look at? I often have to fit the call number, volume number, genre sticker, YA (if the book is young adult), and then, if those stickers at the bottom covered the author or title, reprint that as well. Labeling books is very labor intensive and requires a lot of forethought.
With spine labels, it all comes down to balance. How many stickers do you want on your books? How are you covering them? Would you be up to making your own, customized genre labels?
And the difficult thing is, there are no right or wrong when it comes to classification labels. Some libraries choose to forgo them all together, including them in the call number (YA-GN-BEN or 940.3 SO GN or JGN BEN, etc.).
Whatever you decide to do with your labels, make sure you always have the patron’s needs in mind. Ask yourself what they are used to using, how they use the collection, and what will benefit them the most.