Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Legal Topics by Call Number:
A Series Project in Cut Paper

At the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Library, I work among a sea of KF call numbers. I always have to hold back a laugh whenever a new law student or university student comes up to the circulation desk to ask where they can find KF call numbers because books with KF on their spine are what fill up the majority of our library. Library materials with KF call numbers can be found on every one of the library's four floors. In case you didn't know, KF is used in the Library of Congress system to identify books on American law. The letter "K" on its own simply stands for law.

In order to make the multitude of books and other materials with KF call numbers a little more accessible to our patrons, I decided to create a display for one of our bulletin boards on the atrium level of the library that has stood empty for too long. Sue Altmeyer, one of my coworkers, initially proposed the idea of filling the bulletin board with information on where to find particular legal topics (such as bankruptcy or federal practice) in the library. I decided to go with the idea and develop a display made out of cut paper that highlighted fifteen different legal topics.

Even though I really enjoy working with colored paper, the decision to use paper for this project was largely based off of convenience. Marie Reihmar, the employee who used to create all the displays for the library before she retired, left me and the rest of the librarians at Cleveland State an enormous supply of colored paper in almost every hue you could possibly imagine. Since it was already there and would not cost the library any money, I decided to utilize it. There were times when I was cutting out very tiny intricate designs that I questioned this decision, but overall I enjoyed working with paper.

Despite consciously attempting to avoid spending any money on this project, I didn't think ahead on everything. There was one complaint that I was using too much glue for this project and that the library couldn't afford to supply me with glue sticks, but luckily this didn't turn out to be too serious. I used two of the library's glue sticks, which probably cost us a total of three dollars. Since the glue sticks the library has are purple and caused me a lot of issues with craftsmanship, I ended up bringing in my own glue sticks anyway after going through the first two.

Below are included some images of my individual paper designs as well as a picture of how the display looks now that it has been assembled on the atrium of the law library. The only possible alteration I am still thinking about is lamination. I'm sure that some people are going to find the project a bit juvenile, but I hope that some of the law students will not take things so seriously for once and just enjoy the colors and designs and the bit of information the display conveys. If any of the law students are feeling particularly carefree, they can also play a matching game with the display. There is a space allotted on the bulletin board for when the images are not matched up with a law topic heading. Students can take take the images from this space and pair them with empty headings.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to make this display and have a little fun with paper. Today at work Linda Herman, one of our past Research Assistants, told me that she would love to have a job like mine that would give her the opportunity to make art. It was nice to get some positive comments about the project. Even though making displays is not found anywhere in my job description, I am glad that my job is flexible enough that it allows me to put some of my art skills to use.

Finally, please note that this entire display was made while I was helping patrons at the main circulation desk.

In case some of you aren't familiar with Cleveland, the transit system used to represent urban planning is Cleveland's rapid transit train system. This was one of the images that made me question how sensible using cut paper was. I had to cut out and glue very tiny pieces of paper for that design.

Here is a picture of how the bulletin board looks when all of the pieces are correctly matched with their topics.

This photo shows what the board looks like when all of the images are waiting to be paired with their headings.

For additional information on the call number ranges of particular legal topics, see Northwestern's classification guide on U.S Law Call Numbers.