How do chemical reactions help the Library care for our collection of over 3 million books? What role do robots play in providing access to all those books?

In partnership with Fizzics Education, join the Education team as they discover the answers to these questions and demonstrate some simple fun science experiments to do at home in this series, Science at the Library. Today we look at library science!

Fizzics Education have a whole range of other free and easy experiments that can be done at home. For more information visit the website.

Discover more Science at the Library.

Hello, my name is Aaron and I work at the National Library of Australia.

The National Library of Australia is located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, right in the middle of Canberra, which is located on the lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people.

The National Library of Australia extends our respects to their elders past and present, and through them to all Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Now you may have seen some of our other videos looking at the way in which science interacts with the work that we do at the National Library.

Well, I'm here today to talk to you about another type of science, but it's not the type of mix chemicals together experiment kind of science. It's another science. It's called library science.

Now, library science, sometimes called library and information science /studies or library studies is a name given to a number of different skills, methods and ways we use to manage, organize and keep libraries running smoothly.

Now before we go on, it's important to understand that not all people who work in a library are librarians.

I'm not a librarian. I trained to be a teacher.

Some of my colleagues come from art backgrounds, law backgrounds, finance backgrounds, and it takes a whole range of people with different skills and backgrounds to run somewhere like the National Library.

But of course we do need librarians and at the National Library there's quite a few of them.

They went to university, they studied long and hard and they are now qualified, professional librarians.

They're the experts in organizing, cataloging and keeping our collection safe and running smoothly.

Now different libraries have different people doing different things, and that depends on, well, the size of the organization, how many things they have, what type of things they have, and even the location of where the library is.

Let's look at some of the ways the National Library operates and look at some of the ways that library science helps us keep our collections organized.

The National Library of Australia is the largest library in the Southern Hemisphere.

That's the entire bottom half of the earth, which is a pretty impressive title to have.

Our collection holds more than 10 million items. That's 10 million items.

But what surprises people is of the 10 million only three million of those are books.

We have lots of other different types of information as well. We have maps, we have newspapers, we have magazines, we have pictures, photographs.

Even clothing. It's pretty strange for library to have all of that stuff, but libraries are more than just books.

We're all about information, so with 10 million items it takes a lot to look after them and make sure we know it's also.

One of the big ways that library and information science helps us out is by keeping everything organized.

Now, unlike sometimes when our bedrooms get a little bit messy or our desks are covered with paper, libraries are organized places. Everything has a place. Everything has a label. And everything has a name and number that makes it easily findable and identifiable.

Have a think about your school library. How are the books organized? How are they set out?

How do you go about finding the book that you want? Many libraries use a system to arrange nonfiction books, nonfiction being information reference books. The most common system used is called the.

Dewey Decimal Classification or the Dewey Decimal system.

The system was first used and published by Melvil Dewey, a man from the United States of America in 1876

The system gives books a number based on their topic or the field of study.

So all the books of a similar topic will all be bunched together again, think about the nonfiction section of your school library or your local library.

Do they all have a little sticker on them?

Do they all have a number? Maybe it's long. Maybe it's short.

Do the shelves have a list of numbers at the end of each one? If they do, there's a really good chance that they will be Dewey Decimal numbers.

So in the Dewey Decimal system, nonfiction books are all given a number between zero, zero, zero and 900 or nine, zero, zero. So this 100 number indicates the broad category that the book is associated with, so maybe it's history or language or maths or technology. Something like that, but these are very, very big topics. A lot of things come under history, so. Then each book is given another number. It's called a 10 number and then a one number. So what numbers follow the 100 number will depend on what topics within the big category these books look at. That sounds a bit confusing, I know. Let's have a look at an example and we'll see if we can make it make sense.

I love history. I love history and I want to find out more about ancient Egypt. I want to find out what life was like for people back then. So if I were looking for a book about ancient Egypt under the Dewey Decimal System, I first have to know what number corresponds with history. So under the Dewey system, all.

Books about history. Have a 900. So the number is going to start with nine, then under the history topic.

It's very very big topic. I need to find the ancient history books. So the Dewey system gives books about ancient history, books about the ancient world, a number of 30. So the number will be 930.

Now ancient history is still very big. There's ancient Rome, there's ancient Greece, ancient China, lots of different things, so I specifically want ancient Egypt. So under the Dewey Decimal system, books about ancient Egypt are, 2. So a book about ancient Egypt is going to have a Dewey decimal number that starts 932. It will then be followed by a decimal point, hence the Dewey decimal system. All the numbers that come after the decimal point relates specifically to very very specific topics within that broader section.

So they're all books about ancient Egypt, but they could be books about life for ordinary people in ancient Egypt could be about the pyramids. What life was like for the Pharaoh or the gods of ancient Egypt? They're all going to have a number that comes after the decimal point, but knowing the books about ancient Egypt for under 932. point is a great place to start.

Still confused, let's have a look at another example.

So when I have some time, I like playing the piano. But say I wanted to find a book to learn more about pianos. Well, how would I do that according to the Dewey decimal system?

Books that are about arts and recreation. So, music comes under the arts. Are all given a 700 number. If I want to look for music it would then be an 80 number. So 780. Now lots of things come under music, singing saxophone, guitars, types of music. So I then need to look for the number that corresponds to pianos and keyboards. According to the Dewey Decimal System, that would be 6, so that includes.

Pianos, mechanical instruments, electrophonic instruments and percussion instruments, so that's six. So if I were to look for a book about pianos, I would be looking for a book that had a Dewey decimal number of 786.

That all still sounds a little confusing, I know, but when you take a collection that's 10 million items big with three million books, we need a way to make sure they're all organized. So giving these books classification numbers based on the topic or what they're looking at is a really easy way for us to keep track of it.

Now, in saying that. The National Library of Australia does things a little differently sometimes.

We still give all of our books a Dewey number, but with a collection as big as ours

the Dewey system does have some drawbacks or disadvantages, things that don't quite work for us.

The biggest problem is that when a new book arrives, it must be placed in a shelf.

All the other books that are already on that shelf must then all be shuffled down by one to accommodate this one new book.

Now, the National Library of Australia receives thousands and thousands of new books every year, so that means every time these thousands of new books come into the shelves, every other book must be shuffled

down a thousand places. That's going to get really tricky, really quickly. So while we still give them a Dewey number, we organize our books using something called a running number system.

So this is another way that we can organize our books and another one of those library science skills.

So, what the running number system means is that each book is given a number based on the order in which we collected it.

So let's take for example this year 2021. So the very first book that the National Library collected and cataloged in 2021 would have a running number number that is 2021 point one.

The second book, 2021.2, .3, .4 depending on the order in which we collected them.

So this means we can always make sure we have some empty shelves ready for all the new books that we collect in any given year. It's also really handy because you can look at the last number of any given year, and you can kind of get an idea of how many books we collected that year.

But it does also mean that unlike the Dewey Decimal system, where everything of the same category is altogether, running number means everything is all kind of mixed in together so there are some pros and cons to doing things this way.

Well, what about fiction books? What about my favorite comic books? How do I find those in a library? Well, fiction books can be arranged in a few ways, and there is a Dewey decimal system for fiction books but lots of places just don't use it. Two of the most popular ways to organize fiction books are genre or by author surname. Arranging books by genre is a little bit like the Dewey Decimal System, except they don't usually have a number. It arranges books by the type of story, so it could be books for teenagers, adventure books, mystery books, books about crime. You know, that kind of thing, topic or theme. Arranging by author name is as simple as arranging the book in order of the authors last. Sometimes libraries will even combine those two methods and arrange fiction books by genre and then by author surname. So, this means that if you're after a mystery book, something, you know there's a problem that hasn't been solved, and maybe people are trying to find it out. You know that you need to go to the mystery section.

And then if you have a favorite mystery author, you go to the mystery section and then you can look all the way down. If your favorite authors last name starts with S. You can look all the way down to the “S” section and find your favorite author and the book that you're after.

Now, library science isn't just about organizing things. There are so many other things that library science can teach us. But this is just one of the ways that this very important discipline helps

places like libraries run, operate smoothly and continue to provide the services that we offer to everyone.

Even if you're not a qualified librarian, you can definitely show off your library skills and organize your books.

Have a think about the types of books that you have at home?

How might you want to arrange them?

Could you arrange them by author, last name or author first name?

What about genre?

What kind of stories are they?

Could you lump them all together?

Do you prefer things organized from biggest to smallest?

What about organizing things by color?

There's so many ways we can organize things, and everyone has their favorite way of doing it. Ask some people you know how they like things organized. Perhaps you might be surprised by the answer.

Thanks for watching happy organizing.