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San Jose Public Library

Problem Statement

The traditional library features towering, anonymous stacks, accessible only through catalog searching and Dewey Decimal Number-hunting. This can be intimidating for many public library users, especially when many of them are looking for nonfiction resources that are usually buried in Dewey, like Home & Garden (hidden in the 600s), Computers (000s), and Careers (300s).


SJPL created the user-friendly Marketplace – an area at the front of each branch that showcases 40% of our collections. These high-turnover items include entertainment DVDs and new books as well as popular topics like Home & Garden, Careers, Computers, and language materials, depending on the neighborhood each branch serves. These items are shelved face-out for maximum customer appeal, and rough shelving in the Marketplace means popular materials get back on the shelf sooner after check-in.


The Marketplace concept contributes to improved circulation; overall, circ has tripled since 1998, while we only have a 17% increase in staff. Marketplace collections show a higher turnover than our stacks collections. Our customers are easily able to find the materials they want, but we haven’t taken away the more esoteric collections – they’re still shelved by Dewey.