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Goshen Public Library and Historical Society

Across the Reference Desk

by Fran O'Gorman

September 8, 1999

The scene is familiar. You've heard about a book being discussed on a talk show. It's new. It sounds interesting. Let's say it's The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw. You check the online catalog and to your delight our copy happens to be checked in and on the shelf! You see the call number or Dewey Decimal number on the record and it says 940.540 BRO. But there's one extra part of that number/letter combination. Above the call number it says FAST BOOK. What does that mean?

FAST BOOK is just one of the many special sections in the library where books are grouped to allow for easier browsing and convenience, FAST BOOK is the new book section where books are borrowed for two weeks instead of the usual four. Other specially designated areas with special notations on their call numbers are: SR for Sharts Room (our local history collection), AUDIO for the books on cassette, LP for large print, OS for oversized, and R for reference. A chart in the front of the library or quick question to staff will point you to the exact location of these areas and special collections.

In the children's area there is, of course, the J designation which stands for juvenile which is found in the upstairs balcony area. But in the upstairs area there is also the J PBK which stands for paperback J books, YA (which stands for young adult or teen) in hardcover, and YA PBK for those in paperback. It should also be noted that YA fiction is housed upstairs, but YA nonfiction is shelved with adult nonfiction downstairs. On the lower level there is F for easy books and PlC for picture books and also a PARENTING area which is really for adults but in the children's area for obvious reasons. All these designations appear on the computer record right above the call number.

Having moved on to the shelves one may also notice these letters on the books themselves along with other stickers that are used to further aid in browsing. Too numerous to describe here they are often self-explanatory--such as the sticker of the profile of a Sherlock Holmes character for mysteries or image of a unicorn for fantasy fiction. These are on the spines of both children's and adult reading level titles. A complete chart of these is posted in the J fiction area.

As always, while these are just further attempts to aid browsing, we are ever ready to assist and explain as you search. They are provided to augment but never replace our help.

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