January 19, 2022

Conference Paper: “Something is Lost, Something is Found: Book Use at the Library Shelves”

The following paper was presented earlier this year at the Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR 2017), Oslo, Norway,  March 7-11, 2017.


Something is Lost, Something is Found: Book Use at the Library Shelves


George Buchanan
University of Melbourne

Dana McKay
Swinburne University of Technology Library


Swinburne Research Bank
Swinburne, Australia


This paper investigates the life of books on physical library shelves. Most existing data on the use of library books uses logs to quantify loans, or user interviews to obtain insights into their use. We deploy a new specialised technique, photographing library shelves systematically over a week-long period, and noting changes to the positions of individual books, and movement over each shelf as a whole. Through this indirect observation, we demonstrate the use of shelved books within, rather than on leaving, the library.

We reveal the first insight into within-library book use, and demonstrate that in-library use appears to be more common and over a longer period than previous research suggests. Copyright is held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM.

Direct to Full Text Paper (10 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.