Eight methods of shelving



1. Horror fiction: to be shelved around the outer wall of a spiral staircase leading down into the ground, unlit; the books being ordered roughly according to scariness, so that the more terrifying a book you are looking for, the further down the dark staircase you will have to go. The library has torches but they are a little temperamental. Just hit them on something if they go out, they’ll probably come back on again.

2. Romance fiction: the shelves here are slightly too close together, necessitating an awkward social interaction if you need to get past another browser. There are odd gaps in the books at eye height leading through to the next aisle. Also sometimes everyone is trapped in the section due to a contrived event with the lift, but fortunately there’s somewhere you can wait with tea whilst they fix it.

3. Magic realism: unremarkable shelving in the main, apart from the bottom shelf round the corner by the window. This shelf has King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia on it. He looks a little uncomfortable, but he is gamely playing along so as not to have to confront the rest of the modern world too soon.

4. Mysteries: books are never shelved the same way twice. Lots of nooks and crannies. Occasionally a dictionary drops on your head and you wake ten minutes later to find that the books you thought you were getting out have stolen your clothes and walked out of the library in them. They are checked out in your name. Are they coming back? Who knows.

5. Fantasy: section locked, but sometimes, listening at the door after nightfall, you can hear the sound of distant pipes. There is a chosen one somewhere who can unlock it. Maybe that’s you? If it is you, could you have a look at the plumbing? Because it sounds like the radiator in there really needs bleeding. Thanks.

6. Historical fiction: reserved for those works which were once considered to be fiction but which are now, for better or worse, largely true.

7. Antinovels: contained in a vacuum within the science fiction section. Large explosion likely if brought into contact with novels. Please stay away from the vacuum. The section may be dusty but is that not the philosophical end of all humanity?

8. Western: this section is not big enough for all of the books, and patrons keep on drawing on them.

9. Fanzines: a series of connected rooms, each decorated with a different theme—space, regency period, modern office, medieval castle, superhero base, woodland hunting lodge, etc. The zines don’t always stay in the room that matches their theme. Once you’ve gone past the first two rooms, the path back changes. You may never find your way back to the main library. You probably won’t care.