Making Compact Shelving Easier to Navigate


Compact shelving allows libraries to expand their collections without constructing costly additions or new buildings. Only problem? Navigating the shelves is intimidating and difficult for students, especially if the shelves lack accurate and updated signage.

We spoke to Scott Matheson of Yale Law Library about how StackMap makes it easy for students to use their extensive compact shelving:

“Compact shelving was built into the library with the renovations that happened years ago. While it makes up only two of our floors, it’s half of the shelving. That’s a lot of our stacks.

For those who don’t know, compact shelving is shelving on rails that roll. There are handles for rolling each shelf back and forth. Instead of having 32 inches between each range, you don’t have to have much space at all. Even with ADA requirements, you can shelve more than double the amount of materials in the same space.

Before StackMap, students would get a map of the room they were going to and a call number but then had to try and find it on their own. Our compact shelves are 14 feet tall and the materials on the top shelf are often different from those on the bottom shelf. With their ladders, locks, breaks, and the need to crank the ranges around to find books, they can be challenging for our users.

StackMap makes what is really intimidating much less intimidating.

Students find it helpful to use StackMap for directions. It’s quick to help someone who approaches the Reference Desk when you can open the tab on your computer, show them where to go and even provide  them with StackMap’s text instructions of how to get there. It can accurately show the location of a specific volume within a multi-volume journal set.

Our reliance on compact shelves makes it all the more important that StackMap allows us to be sure that range signs on each shelf are accurate and up to date.

The mapping and the signage that we get through StackMap further helps users find what they need, to connect them with what they’ve located in the catalogue. Getting the desired material into their hands is the last piece of the equation.”

—Scott Matheson, Yale Law Library