Having a hard time finding book 2 of a series when you know you have books 1, 3, 4 & 5?
Tired of series being shelved in completely wrong order?
Didn't realize that a title was even a part of a series?
Series sticker labeling is an amazingly simple yet perfect solution.
I can't take credit for this idea. I had the pleasure of exploring the libraries at Taipei American School (TAS). Dr. Candace Aiani, the Library Director at the Upper School Information Commons (USIC) was simply incredible. I was beyond inspired with the space she and her team created. It was here that I discovered the series stickers.
Feeling excited, as I always do after doing any kind of professional development or school visit, I knew my library team back at my own library would be ready and expecting me to speed talk through all the ideas I had. My usual post-PD overload of excitement does lead to coherent plans in the end, but the beginning is always a lot of fast paced chatter and photo sharing!
My team and I, and I have to say that in the end it was mostly my lovely Canadian librarian who did the majority of the work, went through our entire fiction section (4000+ titles), followed by young adult section (750+ titles) and finally graphic novel section(420+ titles).
We did not do this for our Chinese collection because these are actually very well labelled on the spines of the books. It's quite clear what order they should be in without stickering them.
How we set about this...
We decided to put all the series in order based on what order you would want to read them in. This means ignoring publication dates completely. Easier said, than done...
1) We bought cheap numbered stickers in different colours
If you are in China, this is the link to where we bought them.
2) We brought our laptops, stickers, pens, paper and filled one cart at a time with books
3) We began at the beginning of fiction(authors names beginning with the letter A)
4) We physically checked each book to see if it appeared to be a part of a series - not as obvious as it sounds:
- check inside for a list of other stories in the series
- check the front cover for any kind of numbering, or words like triology, prequel, etc.
- look for numbers on the spine, at the top, bottom, hidden underneath the call number sticker (easy to miss!)
- be suspicious of fantasy genre books! They always seem to be in a series even if it doesn't indicate at all that it is. Look those ones up, fantasy books always seem to have some kind of a prequel or secret series that they're a part of.
5) We used a combination of Good Reads, Wikipedia and Amazon to look up titles and find the rest of the series
6) We checked the catalogue to see if we already had parts of the series (i.e. the book missing from the shelf was just checked out)
7) We checked the catalogue to see if it correctly showed what number it was in the series, surprisingly, many were not - we use Destiny Follett's A+ cataloging feature to populate the data so I was disappointed with how many didn't show up
This may be because the books in the series came out after the record was created in Destiny Follett. I'm not sure how often they update their records or if they update existing records to indicate that it is a part of a series (especially in cases where the author created a prequel, sequel, etc. that they maybe had not originally planned on).
8) We kept a record! Very important! Write out or add notes to your library management software(in our case, Destiny Follett) to show:
- what books are currently checked out but are a part of a series. This allows you to catch these books as they are checked back in to the library
- what books you are going to purchase so that you can label them when they arrive. This allows you to remember which ones you need to add stickers to. Some books don't look like they're in a series at all and by the time the books arrive it's easy to forget
It sounded like an easy project in the beginning but there's always oddballs that just don't quite fit in:
Prequels Published After a Series Has Already Been Published
What do you do? Label it as -1 because you've already stickered the others? We joked about this but in the end we re-stickered these series to include the sneaky prequel first.
The Cemetery of Forgotten Books: The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven, The Rose of Fire by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, translated by Lucia Graves
This series is very confusing to order because the chronological order is difference from the order in which they were published. To make things more confusing a free e-version of the first book (chronologically) but last book (publication date) came out. This (as far as I know) doesn't seem to have a print version that we can add to our shelves.
To get around this problem we catalogued this ebook version in Destiny Follett as a PDF and as part of this series because we want our books to be spine labelled according to chronological order. We're ignoring the publication date order because we want readers to read it in the order that would make the most sense to follow the characters and storyline.
The printed books (#2, 3, & 4) are labelled in chronological order with a small sign beside them letting readers know that book #1 is an e-version.
Read more about just how confusing this series is to order here.
Books that are About the Same Character but Don't Have to be Read in Order
We didn't label these. Frequently these included many, many titles so we also didn't worry about completing the collection. We would buy a few more if it seemed to be popular.
Agatha Christie was a very prolific author and our Y6 & Y7 girls love them! We have a lot of these and a mixture of her series about Poirot & her character Marple (and other books that are have nothing to do with these characters at all). We did not label any of these books because they don't need to be read in order to enjoy them.
Series that Wander Off and Focus on Individual Characters (or explain the same story by choosing a different protagonist)
Didn't sticker these ones either most of the time. Tricky because they weren't always in a set order, sometimes it was just one character that had 1 extra book but in the end because it wasn't necessary to the sequence of the series.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - An Eclipse Novella by Stephanie Meyer
This is a shorter novel that compliments the Twilight Saga about a character introduced in the Eclipse book. In this instance we chose to label it as book 5, because it would be nice to read after finishing the series. In each case we made difference decisions based on whether or not you would want to read these additions in chronological order. Sometimes we added them to the end, other times we left them unlabelled if it didn't make sense to add them in.
Series by Multiple Authors
The 39 Clues series, my goodness I had no idea how many of these we had around the library. This was great because not only did we series sticker these but we decided to recatalogue all of them by the first three letters of the title (F CLU). Now they are all together instead of everywhere.
UK vs. US
Books can have completely different book titles, spelling, and covers. This is very confusing when you are unfamiliar with series. It's not so bad with series such as Harry Potter but it can become a mess when you have a series that you realize your library has a mixture of the US and UK versions mixed in with novellas that create situations where books are literally considered book # 6 1/2 or book #7 3/4.
The Princess Diaries series + Novellas!
In these types of cases we labelled all books in sequence regardless of if they are the UK or US version because we felt that readers just want to read the next book in the series. Sometimes our suppliers are unable to get the UK version so they send the US version instead, despite us not ordering that version. There isn't really much we can do to keep this consistent.
1) Easier to keep in order on shelves. Many of our shelvers don't speak English as a first language, and with time constraints it's too difficult to keep series in order. Now it's a snap. Keeping the numbers in sequence is fast and easy. Now that the library is in better order it's way easier for our patrons to find too!
This includes helping to fix situations where shelvers accidentally shelve books far away from the series they belong to. For example:
The spine labels are all the same, but there are several authors mixed in.
2) Identify an embarrassing number of series where you discover that you have books 2, 4, 5, 6 & 10. Find books that have had sequels or prequels written afterwards, and find the latest books in series that you didn't realize were out yet
We ended up creating a list of 529 titles through this process! This was partially because:
- Donated books were not previously checked if they were in a series or had a prequel/sequel (Double check all fantasy books! You will be amazed).
- Graphic Novels - we often bought the first 3 in a series to test it out and see if it was popular, only to then kind of forget to go back and order the rest if it was, so through this process we ordered a lot of graphic novels & we found other related series at the same time and bought multiple other full series at the same time