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NEWS | Dec. 6, 2019

Fixer upper project merges with new layout at JBSA-Randolph Library

By Robert Goetz 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The final pieces will soon be falling into place as the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Library completes its transition to the modern bookstore layout the Air Force is adopting for its libraries.

Just months after the JBSA-Randolph library moved away from the longstanding Dewey Decimal System to more focused subject categories for its books, new carpeting laid in November was the second step in freshening the facility’s physical appearance after fresh coats of blue and teal paint enlivened the walls.

Starting Feb. 1, 2020, the library will be closed temporarily for the transformation’s finishing touches, to include new furniture and solid wood shelves throughout the building.

“We’ll be getting new sofas, chairs, tables and study carrels in addition to new shelving,” said Diana Lisenbee, supervisory librarian. “It’s a way to refresh our space. We want to make sure everything is done right.”

The library will become more user-friendly with the physical changes, Lisenbee said.

“The shelves won’t be as high, so patrons will be able to see across the library,” she said. “There will be new signage, and there will be nooks and crannies that will be quieter. We’re just trying to improve service here and make people more comfortable. It’s their library we’re taking care of.”

The only furniture that will not be replaced are new bins in the children’s area, Lisenbee said.

“Children’s books are placed in the bins facing forward and the bins are no higher than 3 feet tall,” she said. “That allows kids to browse. That’s the key – browsability.”

The modern bookstore layout adds to the JBSA-Randolph facility’s more accommodating feel, Lisenbee said.

“By organizing our library just like a bookstore, we’re improving the ease of browsing our collection,” she said. “It’s easier than ever to find materials, because rather than organize our collection using Dewey Decimal System, we now organize our materials under subject headings.”

As an example, all of the library’s holdings pertaining to the military now live together under the “Military” subject heading, including biographies of military figures formerly placed in the “Biography” section, Lisenbee said.

“We have everything from military history, split up by branch, to military life, from resources for families dealing with deployment to veterans entering the workforce,” she said. “Under the Dewey Decimal System, these resources were spread out over six or seven locations, but under the bookstore layout, all of these materials live in one place, making it very easy to find resources.”

Two of the library’s 45 subject categories – “Test Prep” and “Transition Readiness” – reflect the facility’s emphasis on providing military members with the information they need.

Another benefit of the new layout is that it appears to help circulation.

At the JBSA-Lackland library -- which was the first JBSA library to adopt the modern bookstore layout -- more people are browsing the collection and are able to find what they’re looking for, said Sharon Ortiz, library technician.

“We have had such a positive feedback from our patrons; they think that we have so many more books,” she said. “The bookstore model lets the patrons find what they are looking for in a timely manner.”

Conversion to the new layout has also enabled the JBSA-Randolph library to refresh its collection, Lisenbee said.

“What’s great is that we got to go in and evaluate our collection,” she said. “Before we implemented the modern bookstore layout, the average publication date of books was 1992. We’ve donated and discarded a lot of the older volumes and the average is now at 2007. It’s a very modern collection that better serves the community.”

The library also provides more materials that benefit service members and military families, such as study materials and test preparation for College-Level Examination Program exams.

The JBSA-Randolph facility joined JBSA-Fort Sam Houston’s Keith Campbell Library as two of nine Air Force libraries chosen to transition to the modern bookstore layout this year, Lisenbee said.

“The Air Force hopes to convert all of its libraries to this concept,” she said.