A Stepping Stone for New Students


Learning a new library as a college freshman can be difficult, and it’s even more challenging when it’s a confusing building that St. Olaf College librarian Sarah Johnston likens to a M.C. Esher painting. We spoke with Johnston about how StackMap has helped make navigating the stacks easier for new students and patrons who are struggling to master Library of Congress call numbers. 

StackMap has really helped people because it shows the particular shelves you need, highlighted, with the number associated with those shelves. Prior to StackMap, we had a real basic map of our catalog, which was confusing especially for new students who had never encountered Library of Congress call numbers before. Our stacks are split across four floors. So, before StackMap, the first step to finding what you needed was identifying the class of the book you were looking for. For example, if you had PN, you would go through the list of floors and figure out it was on the second floor and from there on you were basically on your own. With StackMap, you don’t have to go through the confusing floor menu. It just tells you, “Hey this is on the second floor, and here’s the particular shelf you’re looking for!” And it’s all highlighted. StackMap gives you a strong sense of where you’re going, and has really helped people get to the right part of the building.

- Sarah Johnston, Head of Library Technology and Web Services at St. Olaf College