McIntyre Library adds popular reading section

Second floor redesign includes comfortable seating, plants, a wooden arch and popular reading for folks looking for a good read


Photo by Alee Erickson

The Popular Reading Selection, located on the second floor of McIntyre Library, provides a new read for a UWEC student.

Story by Taylor Hagmann

There are two main ways to organize books in a library. Some public libraries use the Dewey  Decibal System, which sorts fiction from non-fiction. Then, there’s the Library of Congress classification system, which sorts by subject, regardless of whether the book is fictional or not.

Here on campus, McIntyre Library utilizes the Library of Congress system. While filing by subject is great for research, the Library of Congress method makes the fun-to-read books more difficult to find, Liliana LaValle, a digital learning librarian at the library, said.

LaValle is a digital learning librarian in McIntyre. She graduated from the University of Michigan with her bachelor’s degree, and from the University of Illinois – Urbana Champagne with her master’s degree. She has been working in McIntyre since January of this year.

“I came from a public library, so when I came in, I was like, where do we tell people to look for fun books?” LaValle said.

LaValle said with the Library of Congress style of organization, it’s hard to browse for a book when you don’t know what book you want.

“The stacks are so huge and kind of intimidating, even when you know what you’re looking for,” LaValle said.

To fix that problem, LaValle initiated the idea of creating a section of the library with some of the more popular reading books all in one place, making a space where students could browse for something less school-related, LaValle said.

The new Popular Reading Collection, on the second floor of the library across from the Center for Writing Excellence, boasts what LaValle guesses to be close to 1,000 books, set up so students can quickly and easily find something to enjoy. With comfy couches and chairs, sunlight, greenery, rugs and even an arch, which LaValle said will have string lights, students can come and relax and find the perfect book to read.

LaValle was a part of a group who came together in the Content Promotion Committee to organize and execute the idea. They spent the spring semester getting a solid plan in place, and then the summer months actually making it a reality.

The committee decided that instead of organizing the books by author alphabetically, the books would still be organized by call number, Jessica Leum, the evening circulation supervisor, said. The hope is that, by putting the popular books all in one place, students will have an easier time finding what they want, Leum said.

Leum is a third-year online student through UW-Milwaukee, getting another master’s degree, this time in library and information science. She has been working in McIntyre for six years.

“(The system) is kind of nice if you’re not into one genre in particular,” Leum said the books will have a label on the spine to indicate the genre, making it easier for students to find a book when they aren’t quite sure what genre they want to read, she said.

Jill Markgraf, who is the current library director with over 22 years of experience at the library, said that through biannual surveys, they’ve known for years that students were having a difficult time finding the fun books.

“We’ve got all this good and popular stuff that people aren’t really aware of,” Markgraf said. “(We) thought we’d create this space where people could come in and read — something that was more browsable.”

The Popular Reading Collection will have its grand opening from 1-3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18. There will be a ribbon cutting precisely at 1 p.m., but cake and “personalized book recommendations” will be available until 3 p.m.. LaValle also said there will be Pop Rocks, because “popular reading rocks.”

The Popular Reading Collection isn’t the only thing new at the library this year. In addition to improving the Makerspace and adding a digital sound studio, the library is also boasting new hours, having decided to close during low-use times so they can afford to pay their employees a higher wage. From now on, the library will be open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mon-Thurs, Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The 24-hour study area inside the Garfield Ave. entrance to the library and the computer lab in Vicki Lord Larson Hall will both still be available for students who need to study after hours.

Hagmann can be reached at [email protected].