Lisa Chellman has posted a great little entry on the appearance of book spines and the difficulties of inherent in placing spine labels and genre stickers on materials so as to not obscure vital information. This is a huge concern at my library where we have no space for displaying anything as a face out. A while back we decided to opt for consistency in our label placement. Yes, very often important data is covered up, but it’s nearly impossible not to block out something on any given item (especially now that we are required to place barcodes on the upper left corner of each cover).
The best we’ve been able to do is to reduce the amount of stickers we use on our materials. When I first started at my current job the place was a little sticker crazy. In childrens we were putting large randomly colored (whatever scrap paper happened to be around at the time in the copy room) letters on each picture book for first two letter of an author’s name. They looked horrible, covered up tons of space, and were only an aid to some the shelvers and not to our patrons. I’m happy to say those are gone now, along with the stickers for historical fiction, any holidays, and a few literary awards. My next mission is to eventually get rid of the large YA stickers, which is an odd case as we print YA on all the spine labels for that department as well.
A man can dream.