Browsing Neighborhoods at the Upper St. Clair Township Library

The new floor plan in the Upper St. Clair non-fiction room, completed in the summer of 2017, is an open inviting space that features books displayed within subject neighborhoods for readers to browse easily. Patron response is extremely positive, with many commenting on the bright airy space, how easy it is to see the books, how comfortable it feels, and how the feature displays have affected their choice of items to check out.

For many years, the nonfiction collection, arranged in Dewey Decimal order, resided along one side of the library in traditional high shelving in rows that blocked one side of the entrance to the room. One had to enter the long narrow rows to access the collection.

Integrating books, tables and seating to the nonfiction room helped to welcome both independent and collaborative learning. In 2016, Opening the Book, the leading supplier of library furnishing in the United Kingdom, contracted with Brodart, Inc., a Pennsylvania library company, to be their U.S. distributor. Their unique design vision is a game changer for library design. They consider promotion of books along with floor layout and shelf construction.

The library was excited to blend their space and furniture design ideas with its nonfiction neighborhood concept. Varying height bookcases in curving sweeps, with bold clear signage, invites readers to explore and discover information related to their needs and interests. Each propeller-shaped bookcase unit houses a neighborhood collection of related materials. Categories such as Parenting, Health and Wellness, A Better You, and Technology, to name a few, group together the nonfiction collection. Items are now located together for the convenience of the reader rather than in separate locations dictated by the Dewey Decimal order.

To optimize the presentation of books, the library used specifically designed bookcases. The lowest shelf slants upward to help readers see the titles more easily. Large shelf signage on top of each section announces the neighborhood name and shelf labels make it easy to find subsections within each neighborhood. In addition, acrylic shelf displayers display books face out, an attractive merchandising technique that effectively directs the reader’s attention to a specific area.

Plan to stop in and visit. Be forewarned, you may spend more time exploring, and find more to read, than you might expect!

The library received funding through a grant from the Friends of the Library and the Library Endowment Fund, and approval by the Township commissioners as part of the 2016 capital improvement plan to complete this project.