Skip to Main Content

Law Library Student Worker Training: Shelving and Shelf-Reading

Policies, instructions, and training for Law Library Student Assistants

Shelving in the Library

This tab will show you how to read Library of Congress Call numbers numbers and shelve books! Shelf reading and shelving is integral to stacks maintenance in libraries. It ensures that materials are where they're supposed to be, and it's easier for patrons (and us) to find these materials!

Watch the videos below!

Library of Congress Classification System - Introduction

Library of Congress Tutorial--Call Number and Shelving

Reading a Call Number

Shelf Reading

Shelf reading is detail-oriented work. Each person will be assigned to a team, and the team will be assigned a section of call numbers in a collection bi-weekly. Assigned roles include first shelf-reader or second shelf-reader.

Use indicators for your first and last books in a letter series, and remember to read the whole call number-not just the Cutter. 

It's okay to take breaks! 

Five important things to look for when shelf reading: 

  • Books out of order by Library of Congress call number.  
  •  Books shelved in the wrong location. For example: a Reference book shelved in the General Collection.  
  • Books placed on top of other books, outside of bookends, or books that have fallen behind the row 
  • Books with damaged or missing call number labels.  


Alignment and Spacing

Straightening, dusting, and leaving space is integral to the health of stacks maintenance. You'll need a duster, cleaning solution, paper towels, bookends, and a book cart. 

  1. Take all of the books off of the shelving unit, and place on your book cart.
    1. As you take each one off, dust off the top.
  2. When all of the books are on the cart from a shelving unit, dust the unit.
  3. After dusting, spray down the unit with cleaning solution provided by the library and wipe down.
  4. Wait for the spray to be completely dried off before placing the books back.
  5. When placing the books back on the unit, ensure that all of the books are aligned with the edge of the unit and each other. 
  6. Place a book end, or hanging wire bookend for each shelf at the end.

For books that are damaged, pull the item and give to your supervisor.  For books that are mis-shelved, reshelve them in the correct spot.