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SHSU Special Collections Policies and Procedures

Shelf Reading Procedures

Shelf Reading Procedures:

There are several things to keep in mind when shelf reading. Please read the following and keep these instructions in mind when doing your daily shelf reading. It is important to bring anything out of the ordinary to the attention of your supervisor. If he or she is unavailable, please place the item with as much useful notation as possible in his or her office.

  1. For all books, and especially old or fragile books, it is important that the books be upright and placed on the shelf snuggly, but not so tightly that individual items are difficult to remove.

  2. All books or items on the shelf should have a call number and therefore be in the catalog. IF you locate an item that lacks a call number, bring it to the attention of your supervisor and mark the place where that item was on the shelf. CREATE FORM/ SLIP.

  3. Keep the books aligned on the shelf, with all of the spines neatly arranged in a line within an inch of the edge of the shelf.

  4. Make sure that all shelves are equipped with a book end to keep books upright and snug.

  5. Shelf reading requires strong attention to detail and is an ongoing process. It should take place three days a week for 15-30 minutes a day. The goal is that each of us will make it through a Range each month. So, if you get behind or miss a session, it might mean making it up for 2 days in a row. However, shelf reading for more than a half hour than a time can lead to fatigue and/or mistakes and is not recommended.

  6. After having completed a range we will move to one of our colleagues’ ranges and continue on. By the end of six months each of us will have shelf read the entire Thomason Special Collections collection and will start again where we started!


  1. Shelf reading begins with the first book in the assigned section or range and precedes to the last book in the range. If you know you have half an hour, you might have a goal of getting through 2 individual shelves, noting and fixing problems as you proceed.

  2. To proceed, look at each individual call number on each book to be sure that it is in the proper relationship to the books that came before, and to the books that follow.

  3. Any material that is not in its proper call number order should; be removed an either shelved correctly, or if it is far from the correct placement or is simply not cataloged or lacks a call number, brought the attention of your supervisor.

  4. Record your starting and ending call number with each shelf reading session. Record any notes about the condition of your segment of shelves and bring any “problem” items to the attention of your supervisor.



Shelf reading and maintenance plan for the Thomason Room


Shelf Reading Team:


















Range A:

1st 3 long rows of shelving

AC8.B693 1998

F391.4.W47 G68 1987

Range B:

2nd 3 long rows of shelving

{Periodicals}   F 392.A15 M66

NX 650 E7 J483 1969

Range C:

Civil War Collection --Tall shelves


Range D:

CJ -- Tall Shelves


Range E:

1 long and 3 short ranges of shelves

{Random items} PA 1. T45

ZA 4150.D97 1997






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