Cataloged Maps: “Shelved as Size ?”


You’re probably wondering what in the world is happening in B2 with the maps. What’s up with the color-coded labels? Hopefully, the color-coded labels are starting to make sense; they designate 4 Special Collection map sizes and folders:

  • Orange is Size A = 6 folders fit in a drawer (if needed)
  • Green is Size B = 4 folders fit in a drawer (if needed)
  • Pink is Size C = 2 folders fit in a drawer
  • Blue is size D = 1 large folder fits in a drawer

Before Size Notation

Before the color-coded labels appeared, you may have encountered these “find the SC map” scenarios:

  1. You’ve looked up a map in the UW catalog but were unable to retrieve from its location in Special Collections. Where is it?
  2. You know we have a certain map — you’ve seen it — but, it’s not in the catalog. Where is it?
  3. You’ve located the LC number of the map and it’s in the top drawer in one of the B2 map cabinets. You grab the stepping stool and attempt to pull the folder out, but it’s the 3rd folder in the drawer and the ones on top of it are heavy because they’re overstuffed. You slowly wiggle the folder while pulling it a little toward you. You place the folder on your shoulder or on your head, wiggling and pulling while trying to balance the folder. And then it happens – the Mylar map sleeves are so slippery the maps slide out of the folder and onto the floor. After all of the awkward wiggling and pulling and maneuvering, your shoulder hurts and you’ve got a paper cut on your lip because the folder snapped back at your face when the maps flew out of control. You’re standing on the stool with a large empty map folder. All the maps, big and small are splayed all over the floor.

Resolving Retrieving Issues

After considering what may be a more efficient retrieval process for SC maps, Nicole had me measure the B2 map cabinet drawers. My first task was to calculate how many maps would fit in a drawer if the maps were reorganized by size and placed in appropriately fitted folders.

Ergonomically it made sense if the smaller maps were organized in the top drawers, the mid-size maps at waist height and the larger maps in the bottom drawers, there would less chance of injury to whoever is retrieving a map and less injury (damage) to the map itself by preventing it from landing on the floor.

An added value to reorganizing the maps by size was evident by the gradual appearance of empty drawers. There is now available drawer space that can accommodate uncataloged maps once they are recorded and additional room for maps that may be added to the collection in the future.

When you search for a map in the catalog and note the map’s location, make sure you note, next to the LC call number, the “Shelved as: Size” indicator. This will guide you to the correct B2 cabinet drawer for retrieving the map.

Reorganizing the cataloged maps by size does not resolve finding a map because it has been misfiled, but hopefully once everyone becomes comfortable with this process, a misfiled map may be easier to track down.

To be continued with Uncataloged Maps . . .

Submitted by Edna


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Formerly a flight attendant and now, a public services librarian in the King County Library System.

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