New Mexico State Library

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ABQ Journal: Finding Mysteries Mystifies Some Santa Fe Public Library Patrons.

The Albuquerque Journal has an article (available in El Portal) about the recent decision at the Santa Fe Public Library to shelve all fiction, general and genre, together on the shelves.
While this saves space, change is hard:

As a result, it is now no longer easy for the genre enthusiast to drop by the library, cruise a small number of dedicated shelves and find what they’re looking for — or something brand new in their preferred fiction type. For many genre fans, the change has been annoying, to say the least.

Library director Pat Hodapp explains the reasons behind the change, and the complexities of shelving by genre. “What if a murder took place in outer space where there were cowboys,” she asks. “Western? Mystery? Science fiction?”

But for me, the most interesting part of the article was the reporters frustration at using the catalog to find mysteries:

Entering “mystery” as a catalogue keyword yields a list, admittedly large, of books that seem to feature that word in the title. Some of them are indeed mysteries in the sense of the fiction genre. A greater number, at least at the top of the list, are children’s books.

Also near the top: “Mystery Cults of the Ancient World,” a Princeton University Press tome by Hugh Bowden about the religions of the ancient world. Not exactly light reading.

Perusing by catalogue subject “mystery fiction” in just the library’s main branch brings up a better list but it includes more than 8,000 titles. In addition to what appear to be conventional genre mysteries for adults are how-to books on writing mysteries.

So, librarians, what’s the best way to search for mysteries at the Santa Fe Public Library?
Here’s mine: [Check my results]

I did an Advanced search for the word mystery in the subject, and excluding the word authorship.

Advanced search for the word mystery And Not authorship in the Subject
(to eliminate those ‘How to Write…’ titles.)

Then I limited by location to all the adult locations. This eliminates children’s books.

Limit by location, choosing everywhere except the children’s locations.
This should prevent our results from having a lot of kids books.


Third, I limited by material type to book. I was getting too many movies and documentaries.

Just the books please. Of course, I could add large print books if I wanted to. And don’t forget the ebooks, if you like them, way down at the bottom of the list.

And, since it was an option, I limited the language to English. Just in case.

I don’t need to see books in languages I can’t read.

Finally, I choose to have the newest titles displayed first.

Sorting by Date will show me the newest titles first.

Just spot checking the results, this seems to work pretty well.  Have a better one? Send me an email!
Our catalogs are a long way from replicating the experience of browsing a shelf, but on the other hand, with a good search you can browse all three libraries, and even see (and request) the popular titles that are always checked out!

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