Volunteer Shelving

Volunteer Opportunities at Tufts Library

As a volunteer at Tufts Library in the Children’s room you may be expected to; shelve books correctly and help maintain the orderliness of the library.

Shelving: Shelving is the process of putting books back on the shelves in the correct order.

Shelf Reading: The process of making sure that the books are in the correct order. Remove any books that are out of order and put them in the right place.


Volunteer time is time to HELP, not play or socialize. Treat your volunteer time the same as you would a job. If you wouldn’t bring your friends to your job, don’t bring them to the library to socialize with you during your shift.

Volunteers are expected to work the hours agreed upon with their supervisor.

If a volunteer cannot fulfill the commitment to the assigned shift or task, notification should be given to the coordinator, preferably 24 hours in advance. In the case of emergency, notice should be given as soon as possible. Although this position is unpaid, attendance and punctuality are vital to our daily operation.

Volunteers who do not report for three consecutive scheduled days, without notifying the coordinator, will be considered to have resigned voluntarily.



New volunteers will receive an orientation to the Library as well as training in the duties of their assignment. Library staff will provide ongoing training and guidance to volunteers. Volunteers are encouraged to promptly ask any questions they may have about tasks, policies, procedures, or other information to help them effectively do their work.

Beginning your shift

·Notify a staff member that you have arrived.

·The staff member will explain what is on the agenda for the day.

·Sign in.

During your shift

·If you complete your task or tasks, ask for something else to do. If there are no other tasks available, that will be it for the day.

Ending your shift

·Notify the staff member that your shift has ended and you are leaving.

·Sign out.


What are the Qualifications to Volunteer?

All volunteers must meet at least the following requirements:

·Volunteers must be able to make a specific time commitment, which will be discussed prior to beginning volunteer work.

·Volunteers must have the skills and the physical ability to perform the work involved in the assignment.

·Volunteers must successfully pass a skills assessment test before beginning volunteer work.

A limited number of volunteer assignments are available at any given time. As a result, not everyone who applies will be selected.

How to Shelve


The Dewey Decimal system coordinates materials on the same subject and on related subjects to make items easier to find on the shelves. The system uses a combination of letters and numbers.

How does the Dewey Decimal system work?

The basic thing to remember about the Dewey Decimal filing system is this: file digit by digit – not by whole number. For example here are a list of numbers in Dewey Decimal order:


• 451

• 451.01

• 451.012

• 451.023

• 451.04

• 451.04217

• 451.1

• 451.136

• 451.3


451.04217 comes before 451.1 because 0 is smaller than 1. Take it number by number and stop when two numbers are different. So in the example of 451.04217 and 451.1, you would stop at the 0. That is the first number in the sequence that is different, and 0 is smaller than 1 so it will be placed first. Look at our example list again. Does it make more sense now?


Non-fiction: Books are shelved by call number and the first three letters of the author’s last name.





616.3 Art

616.3 Asl

616.3 Bai



Biographies are shelved alphabetically by the name of the person the book is about. For example a biography on Barack Obama would have a spine label reading:

“J B Obama, B”.

The “J” standing for Juvenile literature, the “B” standing for biography, “Obama” being his last name and “B” being the initial of his first name.



Books are shelved alphabetically by the author’s last name, first name, and then by title. If two authors have the same last name, arrange by first name or initials so that all the books by the same person will be found together on the shelf.


Darby, William

Darcy, Ella

Death, William

Dell, William

Del Mar, Eugene

Depaola, Tomie

Mach, John

Maclaren, Joseph

Vanden Berg, Glen

Van Dyke, Henry

Vandenberg, Arthur                            


Easy (Picture) Books


Easy Readers otherwise known as “ERD”

Easy and “ERD” Paperbacks




All of these books are shelved according to the letter stickers found on their spines (this is representative of the first one/three letters in the author’s last name). Holiday and Picture Books are shelved by the first three letters of the author's last name as is depicted on the spine label of each of these books. All paperbacks and Easy Readers have only the first letter of the author's last name as the spine label. First you will determine whether the book has an “ERD” sticker for Easy Reader or the first three letters of the author's last name and then place the book accordingly on the shelf where it belongs. The Paperback Picture Books and Easy Reader Paperbacks are placed in buckets next to their corresponding section and organized by the first letter of the author’s last name. Lastly Holiday books are organized by what holiday the books represent and then by the first three letters of the author’s last name, in the same fashion as the Picture Books.


Next Steps

If you are interested in volunteering, take the assessment test. Should you pass the test please call us to schedule your final test in the library in addition to volunteer hours.