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Dewey What? How To Locate the Book You Need

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POV: You hurry into the library in pursuit of a book that you need for your literature class, and the deadline to write an analytical essay on it is fast approaching. You discover from using the catalog on our website that, luckily, your local branch has it in stock. But when reading the description of its location, you see a random decimal number with some letters underneath, and have no idea what that means. You become officially lost in the stacks. Should you turn back the way you came and ask an employee at the front desk? Or do you dare to trek through the seemingly endless maze of books? You decide to continue onward, but then your surroundings change. Now you’re in a section where there’s no numbers and just letters??

This scenario might sound a little dramatic, but even in a smaller, one-story library it can be easy to get confused. This is where us librarians come in to save the day! We’re always happy to show you where anything is shelved and help you understand how our cataloging system works. You can come to us or we’ll be out on the floor asking if patrons like you need assistance! But if you’re wanting to know what the numbers and letters mean for yourself, you can potentially save some time, skip the frantic searching, and be the hero of your own story. 

Here’s a rudimentary guide to navigating those strange library symbols:

The combination of letters and numbers are referred to as “call numbers.” Call numbers are found on a book’s spine label. Our books are categorized by the Dewey Decimal System, which is just a way to classify books based on their subject. Most public libraries use this system, while academic libraries utilize the Library of Congress classification, but we won’t get into that here.

Navigating Fiction
If you’re in the fiction section, it’s a bit easier to find a book. Books here are categorized in alphabetical order by the first three letters of the author's last name. So if you’re looking for “Along Came a Spider” by James Patterson for example, you would look for PAT and then once you found Patterson, you would search by title for “Along” since A comes first. However, if the title begins with an article such as “an” or “the”, you would use the next word!

The same goes for our large print section as well as our juvenile sections! If you’re looking for a particular genre, they are mixed in with all the others, so be sure to ask a librarian for recommendations if you don’t have a particular book in mind!

Navigating Nonfiction
Here’s where things get a little trickier: nonfiction has both numbers and letters. This is the Dewey Decimal System at work. Books here are categorized in numerical order, and each number represents a different subject grouped within a larger common topic. For instance, books shelved in the 100s will be on different topics than books in the 500s. Then if you choose a topic in the 100s, the 120s will be on a range of different subjects than, say, the 140s. It’s a lot of information to process, so we’ve created a handy list that details every section: 

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If you’re still unsure of where to look for a book after viewing this index, feel free to ask us! We can check the catalog, and we have memorized a lot of placements because of how often they’re asked about. Cookbooks? They’re in the 641.5s in Home & Family Management under “Technology.” ACT prep? The 378.1s in Education under “Social Sciences.” 

As always, if you want a book or other item not found in our catalog, we can make an order request. We hope this helps you in your quest for the perfect book!


Getting To Know Your Library 101: Basic Terminology and Becoming Involved

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Everyone knows that public libraries are one of the most magical inventions on Earth–people from all walks of life can come together in community and find practically anything they need. Libraries are one of the few organizations left in the service industry where utilization isn’t accompanied by the expectation of spending money. Not to sound too biased, but the Faulkner County Library might just be the coolest hangout spot in town (okay, maybe aside from the splash pad at the park). As counterintuitive as it seems, our headquarters in Conway is constantly busy and we easily help close to 500 patrons in a single day if not more. If you’ve been to our summer programming, you know exactly what we’re talking about!

Despite the welcoming vibes and lively atmosphere, libraries can be intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with the lingo or which department to go to for questions. Whether you’re a newbie or a frequent patron, here’s our mini guide to common library terms, the names of different areas around the building, and ways that you can get involved at your local branch!

Basic Terminology 

Circulation: This is where the usual stuff happens–checking out or returning items, getting your first library card, and updating your account information. You may hear front desk workers mentioning items being “circulated”, which means how many times it’s been used by patrons. This is where to ask questions, and if the staff here doesn’t know the answer, they can direct you to the right people!

Reference: Being a smaller library, we don’t have a separate reference desk per se, but we do have a handful of more experienced librarians who can help you with your research needs. They can show you how to use the microfilm machine, look up local records in the Arkansas Room, and provide tactics for better understanding online sources!

Programs: Libraries aren’t just about books, but also about putting on events! From author talks to after-school programs, we have something exciting for every age to participate in. Ask a worker at the circulation desk to point you to our calendar shelf! 

The Stacks: We’re not talking about the home of the main protagonist in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, but rather something a little less dystopian. These are the lines of shelving that house our physical collections, and are organized based on genre and format.

Catalog: This is where you can look up an item to see if we have it and check its status. You may see that a DVD is “processing”, meaning it’s brand new and currently being inventoried into our system, or that a book is on the “repair shelf” and we’re fixing some damage. The catalog will also tell you whether an item is part of our digital collection or if it’s at another branch. We have card catalog computers for public use on each level near our ramps, or you can ask a circulation worker to search for an item!

Branch: Fun fact–we are a dual-county system. This means the Faulkner County Library is actually the Faulkner-Van Buren Regional Library System, but it’s easier to just say the former or simply “FCL.”  We have 8 locations: Conway, Vilonia, Mayflower, Mt. Vernon, Twin Groves, Damascus, Greenbrier, and Clinton. We share funds and resources with each of them, and if you ever need a hold (see next section for the definition) transferred to a different branch for your convenience, we can do that! 

Books and Resources

Holds: Want a guarantee that a book you’re waiting for will be yours next? You can place a hold on an item in our collection–given that it’s not a reference-only item to be kept inside–to ensure you can grab it during your next trip to the library. For a faster experience, we’ll place your hold in a locker when it’s ready for pickup, and all you have to do is scan your card and the locker will pop open with the materials already checked out to you!

Requests: If we don’t have an item in our collection that you want, you can place a request with us! We’ll either buy it from our distributor or borrow it from another library system. If it’s a new title that hasn’t been published yet, we can do pre-orders as well. You can fill out a request form by logging into your account on our website or asking the front desk!

Interlibrary Loan (ILL): Remember that bit about borrowing an item from another system? That’s what this is called. If we can’t purchase it, we’ll reach out to libraries across the country and see who has the closest copy. Depending on the agreement we have with that library, the checkout time may be shorter than what we allow with our own items. 

Collection Development: This is the process that librarians complete for selecting, acquiring, and “weeding out” items. Weeding is a necessary step that means getting rid of items that are outdated, in poor condition, or no longer serve the community’s interests. After all, a 2003 edition of PCs for Dummies probably isn’t the most accurate source of information anymore.

Get Involved

Donations: Have a box full of books or CDs you’re cleaning out? Give them to us! We can possibly add it to our collection or include them in our book sale. If anything, we can recycle them. A useful tip: don’t leave piles of donations outside the book drop. Knock on the door and we can help you unload them! As a thank you, you can write it off on your taxes for credit by filling out our donation form.

Friends of the Library: This is our volunteer group that supports us and provides funds. Most libraries have them! They often run donation drives, book sales, and other important special events to help keep us going. You can sign up for a membership at the front desk and join our community service network (it comes with a free tote bag too!).

Library Board: A group of elected or appointed individuals who work closely with the Library Director on library policies, monetary decisions, and strategic plans. Library Board members represent and advocate for our community and the library’s best interests. You can find more information on the Board at under our About Us tab, including their meeting minutes, agendas, and upcoming issues they’ll be discussing. This is another great way to get involved with your library! The FCL Board meets on the 3rd Monday of each month at 5:30pm, and the Van Buren Board meets the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 5pm. 


Playing Catch-Up After COVID: How Your Library Card Can Help Kids With Lost Learning

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Even though the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is over and things have mostly gone back to normal, there are still children who have been significantly affected in terms of academic growth and learning loss from the school closures and reliance on distance learning. According to a study by Horace Mann Educators Corporation, more than 97% of teachers reported their students are behind compared to classes held prior to the pandemic. 

Luckily, work is being done to combat this. The Arkansas Department of Education awarded funds to schools from the American Rescue Plan to create over 84 summer and after-school programs in the last year. Not to mention, our own library has recently been able to offer more educational and social programming for kids and teens outside of school hours, like After the Bell at FCL! You can check out the monthly calendars for each age group at under the Programs tab.

As parents, caregivers, educators, and community leaders work to fill in the learning gaps for our students, there is one other invaluable (and FREE) tool that will help our young patrons to get back on track towards success: a library card! There’s a reason why we have such a lenient checkout policy and let our patrons borrow up to 100 items per account. So many teachers, students, and homeschooling families depend on a library card to boost learning, and allowing them to check out a higher volume of materials at a time–something they often do, which always makes us librarians smile–widens their capacity to level the playing field and place their learners on the threshold of a promising career path. 

With your library card, you get automatic access to all of these resources:

A-Z Databases: located under the Resources tab, this lengthy list of scholarly sources is organized by subject and is great for high school or college students doing research.

Mango Languages: get full access to over 70 languages and learn realistic conversations. You can even skip lessons if you’re at a more advanced level! (We’ve been told it’s better than Duolingo, too.) 

Kanopy: this underrated streaming service has dozens of documentaries and educational films to choose from for all ages. You can check out up to 10 movies per month! 

Learning Express: filled with interactive tutorials, practice exams, flashcards, articles, and eBooks, this resource is good for mastering basic skills, test prep, and helping with career decision-making.

World Book Kids and World Book Student: both are designed to encourage young learners to be curious! The Kids online encyclopedia includes eBooks, videos, activities, read-aloud, and translation features. The Student version is aimed toward an audience of upper-elementary through middle school students. Specific features include a timeline builder, individual research accounts, and a “How to Do Research” feature that will help students develop information literacy skills. With thousands of articles, multimedia content, and a collection of biographies, there is something for everyone!

Bookflix: a website with animated stories that bring eBooks to life! Kids can choose over 120 animated fiction or nonfiction books with music and interactive games. 

CultureGrams: take a virtual tour of the world with this travel database covering all 200 countries, all 50 U.S. states, and the Canadian provinces. You can explore any place through photo galleries, slideshows, and even listen to interviews from locals!

All of this can be found through our Niche Academy portal here. We hope you and your kids enjoy learning with these handy online tools as much as we do!


Resumé Assistance is Here!

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New year, new you—same us, more services! It’s now 2023, and we bet most of you have been working to kick that New Year’s resolution into high gear. For some of you, career advancement might be at the top of the goal-setting list. If you’ve been searching for a job or have a certain position on your radar, we can now help you strengthen your portfolio for a better chance of securing it! 

From January through March of this year, we will be offering resumé assistance! Melissa Freiley from the Hendrix Bailey Library will be here to not only help you build/update your resumé, but to also help you complete job applications and give you tips for answering common interview questions. And as an added bonus, we'll let you print out your resumé for free!

Here’s how it works: we will have 30 minute to 1 hour sessions available. Prior to meeting with the instructor, please ensure you have all the documents or information you need. Walk-ins are accepted, although reservations are preferred. There are a limited number of time slots, so be sure to double-check the dates on the reservation form below when you choose a spot, that way you are more likely to get the times you want!

Scratch paper and pens will be provided, but don’t forget to be ready to go for your session! Here’s some examples of what to bring with you:

Previous job start and end dates

Addresses of employment

Reference contact information

Your own laptop, tablet, or other electronic device if possible

To schedule an appointment, click on this link:

*Just as a disclaimer, the volunteers who run our resumé assistance program cannot guarantee employment or be held liable for any outcomes. The purpose and design of this program is to increase your prospects for being hired, but we cannot promise job attainment through participation; that is contingent upon the level of performance you put into the application process. Our intention is to help you succeed with that!*            

Many patrons have been asking for this service, and we’re so glad to finally make it possible! We’ll see you at the library, and good luck with your applications!