RLB Pantone Library

Over the next few years, the libraries in the University System of Maryland, including RLB Library, will work towards implementing a new integrated library system (ILS). Work has already begun on what we decided to call the Next-Gen ILS project (but only after “the Booky McBookface project” was removed from the list of possibilities). The transition is expected to take several years to complete.  Once done, the interfaces and processes used to search and retrieve books, articles, and other licensed content from the RLB website should be streamlined and easier to use.  Some of the work that has already begun involves cleaning up data and making changes so that when we migrate our current information into the Next-Gen ILS, we will have as little cleanup to do as possible before we can start using the new system. 

At RLB Library we are taking advantage of this larger project to implement a change inspired by the use of different colors on each floor of the library building that is part of the building renovation completed in 2018.  

At the present time, almost all of our books are on the 4th floor, where they have been filed on the shelves by Library of Congress call numbers.  As part of the transition, RLB Library will rearrange the books on its shelves so they can be found using the predominant Pantone color code on the cover of each volume.  The call number on the spine of the book and in the catalog will also display the Pantone color code.  Each book will be moved to the floor with the color that most closely matches its cover. Image showing green, yellow, orange and red books and floor numbers 1 through 4 in the matching color.Because RLB only has 4 colors, we will need to employ some additional steps to figure out the most appropriate floor for many of our books.  Our first rule will be to put books without a matching floor color onto the floor with its complementary color. So blue books will go on the 3rd floor with the orange books, and purple books will go onto the 2nd floor with the yellow ones.  We decided to place books with brown covers on the 1st floor to be with the green books, hoping to create a kind of earth and grass ambiance. Gray-covered books will be moved into the game room in the basement.  Books with either black or white covers will remain on the 4th floor because we ran out of ideas of what to do with them. 

“Organizing books by color is a growing trend”, said RLB Library Director Jeffrey Hutson, “although not in libraries”.  This change will also bring RLB closer to the original vision of the renovation where the designers wanted the books to blend into the ambiance of each floor. Originally, RLB librarians rejected this idea, but the pandemic helped us realize that nobody wants to read print books anyway. This change will not impact our ebooks.  

RLB hopes to move the books onto their new floors over the summer. Changing the call number in the catalog could take several years, since we will need to assess the color code of the cover for each volume.  When the project is completed, RLB Library expects it will become the 1st academic library to employ Pantone color codes as call numbers.  Once we have a critical mass of books with the Pantone color code already determined, we believe other libraries will soon follow suit.  

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