Using StackMap with a Shrinking Physical Collection


Lots of libraries are reducing the size of their physical collections and relying more on digital books. We spoke to Kathy Broad and Susan Urban about the recent downsizing of OKCU Law Library, prompted by a move, and how StackMap helped make it a seamless transition.

Susan: Recently, we moved and downsized our collection. We started using StackMap during the transition from our old building to our new one.

Old Library

Kathy: Previously, on the main campus, the Law School and rest of the school were in two separate buildings.

Susan: Our old library was four floors and our new one is one floor.

New Library

Kathy: We moved into our new building two and a half years ago, in December of 2014. We needed to reduce our collection.

Susan: The new building doesn’t have as much space, so we got rid of items that we had digital duplicates of.

Kathy: Now we have about 60,000 volumes in our library. Not only did we reduce the collection, we also moved some items, previously separate, into the General Collection, like our legal reporters, popular reading, and the pro bono collection. Except for a handful of items on a lower level (DVD cases and microfiche and micro forms) our new library on a single floor is more spread out—it spans almost an entire city block.


Kathy: StackMap is the system we use to make it possible for students to find things throughout this large floor.

StackMap makes it easier for students and faculty to find materials, some of which had been in several different locations before.

Susan: We started moving the books to the new building a semester before the new library opened, so first year students weren’t familiar with how to use the library and some of our returning students had forgotten.

The move also created a situation in which many more of our students didn’t know how to use the library. Luckily StackMap makes it easy.

Everyone, including our staff, has had an easy time using StackMap. The person who spearheaded StackMap integration left so I took it over during implementation and another library assistant maintains the ranges.

When we add new collections, I’ll update StackMap and one of the library assistants does our shifting. It’s been easy to share the responsibility.

— Susan Urban & Kathryn Broad, Oklahoma City University School of Law

Making Compact Shelving Easier to Navigate

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Compact shelving allows libraries to expand their collections without constructing costly additions or new buildings. Only problem? Navigating the shelves is intimidating and difficult for students, especially if the shelves lack accurate and updated signage.

We spoke to Scott Matheson of Yale Law Library about how StackMap makes it easy for students to use their extensive compact shelving:

“Compact shelving was built into the library with the renovations that happened years ago. While it makes up only two of our floors, it’s half of the shelving. That’s a lot of our stacks.

For those who don’t know, compact shelving is shelving on rails that roll. There are handles for rolling each shelf back and forth. Instead of having 32 inches between each range, you don’t have to have much space at all. Even with ADA requirements, you can shelve more than double the amount of materials in the same space.

Before StackMap, students would get a map of the room they were going to and a call number but then had to try and find it on their own. Our compact shelves are 14 feet tall and the materials on the top shelf are often different from those on the bottom shelf. With their ladders, locks, breaks, and the need to crank the ranges around to find books, they can be challenging for our users.

StackMap makes what is really intimidating much less intimidating.

Students find it helpful to use StackMap for directions. It’s quick to help someone who approaches the Reference Desk when you can open the tab on your computer, show them where to go and even provide  them with StackMap’s text instructions of how to get there. It can accurately show the location of a specific volume within a multi-volume journal set.

Our reliance on compact shelves makes it all the more important that StackMap allows us to be sure that range signs on each shelf are accurate and up to date.

The mapping and the signage that we get through StackMap further helps users find what they need, to connect them with what they’ve located in the catalogue. Getting the desired material into their hands is the last piece of the equation.”

—Scott Matheson, Yale Law Library


When Service is Your Top Priority


We spoke with Debra Kolah of Rice University’s Fondren Library about how StackMap helps her deliver on her library’s top priority: Service!

We’re a cobbled together library that’s had multiple innovations over time—not all of our elevators go to every floor and not every stairwell goes to every floor. We got StackMap to help alleviate all the navigational issues that come with that.

Our library is very service-driven and I’m with the User Experience Office. We run surveys out of the Access Services desk and every Tuesday we set up another desk to answer questions our users have. We call it guerrilla testing.

Our users give us all the best ideas on how to improve. This is why we love StackMap—we translate what we hear from our users into action because so often their needs are new maps or increased signage.

The best improvement we’ve made was mapping all of our different types of study carrels on StackMap. You can click on a link that allows you to look at available carrels and as you scroll through that list, you can see which are open and locate them on a map. For example, if you were trying to find a study carrel on the third floor, you’d click “Locate on a Map” and see this:

image (1)

We love that our website is now a one-stop-shop: You can make a “reserve-carrel” request, see it on a map, and print out a DIY “Carrel Reserved” sign.

The upcoming projects in our queue are to improve accessibility of our DVD collection, portable DVD players, and music scores, all of which are hard to find. Our Exam Period Map which shows study zones, snacks, quiet areas, and areas conducive to group study we’ll add to StackMap this year. In the past we’ve had to make it and post it ourselves!

Our StackMap implementation continues to grow as we increase our understanding of what our users need. We’re always trying to improve our customer experience so we love that StackMap helps us do that.

—Debra Kolah, Rice University’s Fondren Library

Thinking about getting StackMap for your library? Have it already and want to keep improving the experience for your library patrons? Get in touch with us at We’d love to hear from you.

StackMap’s Simple Set-Up

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The Austin Public Library and StackMap have made the local news!

Jake Fejedelem heard about StackMap at the SELCO consortium webinar.

“I watched the demo and thought, I’ve got to have that. I made a good case for it at my library and the ball got rolling. Two weeks later we had it up and running.”

“It was an incredibly brief process. Doing the actual stackmapping was really easy; I did it myself over the course of two days so it wasn’t a staff drain.”

He pointed us to the recently published piece on the subject: “Reporters came into find out about how some internet hotspots had been functioning (they weren’t) and I said let me show you something else that’s cool.”

Here’s the article:

Austin Public Library has a new tool to help patrons find their books and other items to check out.

Earlier this month, the library debuted a program through StackMap where library patrons can look up items on the SELCO and Austin Public Library sites and generate a map to their location.

“So for people who don’t know the Dewey Decimal System or aren’t really sure where some of these smaller collections in the library are, it will actually show you physically in the library where it is, and you can even print it off from home,” Technology Librarian Jake Fejedelem said.

Austin is the first SELCO library to use the system after the idea came up at a tech team meeting, and the idea excited Fejedelem.

“That’s like the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” Fejedelem joked.

StackMap takes a floor plan of the library and all the shelving and the library then plots all the call numbers for books and movies to the map.

When people log in at the library or at home, they simply hit the “Map It” button and then get a printable map that shows where the item is located.

Though it will take a bit for people to learn about and get used to the program, Fejedelem said it will help answer one of the most commonly asked questions at the library: Where is this item?

“It’s like: That solves so many problems,” he said. “I think once people get used to using it, it’s going to be a game-changer, because a lot of questions we get are: I have it up on the catalog; where is it in the library?”

On the average shift, Fejedelem said he’ll get about a dozen questions per shift asking for help finding books.


See StackMap in the Austin Daily Herald here. Thanks to Jake and Austin Public Library for your kind words. We’re so happy to be working with you!



Thinking about getting StackMap for your library? Questions about the setup process? Get in touch with us at We’d love to hear from you.

Mapping Difficult Spaces


Recently we spoke with Lydia Borsh of Dartmouth’s Baker-Berry Library about StackMap’s role in improving the ease of navigating unusual buildings.

There are quirks about our building and arrangement of books that StackMap is especially helpful with.

We have a melding of two buildings: a newer and an older library. The newer library is comprised of 90% moveable shelving and the older library has old-fashioned iron stacks. All over, the building has angles, nooks and crannies, and because of this, the way we organize books is not necessarily intuitive.

For example, we have two areas in the basement labeled A and B, with doors to annexes that look like exits. Our patrons expect the numbers to wrap straight around, but instead the numbers follow through the closed doors to each annex. It’s not how you think it would be.

With our patrons, mobile device compatibility is a big plus. When students look up a book and 15 minutes later are 2 floors below, they can bring the map right up on their phones. It makes finding books in unconventional spaces easy.

Everyone has been really thrilled with it, even people who just like to browse.

StackMap is one of those technologies that even people who are averse to technology appreciate.

— Lydia Borsh, of Dartmouth’s Baker-Berry Library

Prospective and current StackMap users: Do you have questions about mapping an unconventional library? Feel free to get in touch with us at! We’d love to hear from you.
Thank you Lydia and all of the patrons of Dartmouth’s Baker-Berry Library! And Happy New Year to all.

Customizing Your Library’s StackMap

We often speak with librarians who ask us about customizing StackMap for the needs of their particular patrons or library. “Can we change how this looks?” or “Can we change how this works?” The answer is yes!

We spoke with Sarah Slack, the Electronic Resources Manager at St. Charles Public Library in St. Charles, Illinois, about her experience requesting changes for her library’s StackMap instance to suit the unique needs of her patrons as she learned more about how she and they were using the product.


“There have been several tweaks and changes we’ve made over the life of our map.

In the original view, the whole range of books on each shelf was listed. Patrons would come up to the desk with call numbers like ‘FIC A – FIC ZZZ’ or looking for ‘Range S7.’ Troubleshooting inaccurate call numbers was easier for me when I could see at a glance if the range for the shelf was correct and formatted correctly.

Having the entire range listed exposed why an item might be showing up in the wrong place.

But it made sense to simplify the map display to suit our patron’s needs.

Now the display is simpler and shows patrons only what they need to know in order to find their item.

We also condensed the wording that explained to patrons where to find the shelf their item was located on. We found that having the two key pieces of information separated by the call number was confusing to some people.


A more recent change was the color of the icons for our Emergency Exits, because they were the same color as the red indicators for where items are located.”


 – Sarah Slack, St. Charles Library, IL                   Logo -NEW original



Commonly Asked Questions on StackMap Customization:

How can I request changes to the appearance of my StackMap integration?

Just send us an email at Integration changes are simple to execute on our end, and getting your StackMap to look the way you want is our highest priority.

I’ve been using StackMap for a while, is it too late to customize my implementation?

Never! We can tailor the maps at any time. Lots of our customers have requested incremental changes as they discover specific needs of their patron base.

What changes are possible? What changes are not?

We are pretty accommodating people. Try us! Bet we can make it happen.

We’d love to feature your library on the StackMap Blog. Write to and tell your story.

Summon integration at Florida State University Libraries

StackMap has been mapping items at Florida State University’s Strozier and Dirac libraries for a number of years now. This year, FSU added Summon as the library’s primary discovery interface. Now that StackMap has integrated with Summon, users not only see StackMap’s “Floor map” buttons in the traditional catalog, but also in the Summon search results page.


Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 3.42.13 PMThis picture is from the first page of results when searching “the grapes of wrath” in the Summon search bar on FSU Libraries’ homepage. Instead of having to click on the title to go to the item’s individual record page within the catalog, the user is able to see the item’s location on a map directly from the search results page.

Together, Summon and StackMap are helping patrons locate resources with even more ease and efficiency.