Students design fun souvenirs featuring Library of Congress classification system
This past week, the R.P. Bell library hosted its very own unique event. Students were encouraged to interact with an exhibit called Shelfie, which brought Mount Allison’s library classification system to life.
Dr. Spurles, head of the anthropology department, and Elizabeth Stregger, systems librarian, helped set up student participants. The goal was to make a sticker using fabric and a cutting machine. The event proved popular, with a line of students extending from the workshop tables all the way to the Flying Bean. “We would have been happy if we had been able to share the fun of making stickers with a few people each day,” said Spurles. “Instead, we had as many people as we could accommodate – a total of more than 50 so far.”
The students were instructed to think of a book or topic that has meaning to them. They then told Stregger this topic, which she looked up on the Library of Congress database. “I loved how highlighting the call numbers seemed like a secret handshake – only those who were pretty intimate with the library knew what they were and what they meant,” said Spurles.
The classification system catalogues every book with a unique sequence of numbers and letters. Each book that the students chose was translated into these sequences and printed out negatively using the cutting machine on the chosen fabric. The fabric was then transferred onto another small table for students to cut out their stickers and finish their creations. According to the event coordinators, water bottles and laptops are the top contenders for these stickers.
A few of the students finishing up their stickers chatted happily at the end table. “I chose Animal Farm,” said one student with a grin. “I read it in Grade 10. I found it super impactful, even though the writing is basic.”
Caitlin Gallant, a graduating student, chose The Right To a Healthy Environment, a book by David Boyd, a professor at UBC. “My independent study is on environmental rights and the Canadian charter, and this is kind of like a pioneer text.” The text examines the charter from an eco-activist point of view. “It has inspired the work that I’ve done this semester, so it’s definitely a meaningful book for me.… I’m super glad I came over,” said Gallant, in reference to the booth.
This event was meant to highlight the uses and purpose of the Library of Congress Classification system, which Mt. A uses. It’s a fun reminder of how unique the books that we read are, as well as the breadth of literature.
“We were thrilled to see how participants really engaged with the idea of claiming the topics and books that are meaningful to them,” said Spurles. Students seemed to enjoy a nice break from studying in the midst of one of the most stressful months of the year, as the library remained full and the booth remained busy all afternoon.