If you have visited us recently, perhaps you’ve noticed that several of our collections have been on the move, relocating to new homes throughout the library. For instance, the Large Print collection moved from the back of the first floor to the front near our DVDs. The Travel collection travelled down from the second floor to the space where the Large Print books used to live. These and other moves are in preparation for the upcoming renovation of our second floor, and all of this activity would be impossible without one basic piece of library equipment: the book truck.

Book trucks are so ubiquitous within the library that they are easy to overlook. But without these rolling sets of shelves, it would be nearly impossible to transport all of our books, CDs, DVDs, and audibooks to their proper places. I wanted to take a moment to give these true heroes of the stacks their due, so I took a tour the library to catalog our carts. What follows is a field guide to the book trucks of the Princeton Public Library.

We have twelve of these large six-wheeled beauties. These sturdy, wood-sided carts are loaded with recently returned items and can often be spotted near our first-floor photocopier, where they wait patiently for staff to wheel them to the areas needing reshelving. 

These less-imposing four-wheeled black carts may not be as large as their six-wheeled cousins, but they are the workhorses for all of the back offices of the library. We have 22 scattered throughout the building, and they are crucial for receiving shipments, ferrying books and other materials through the cataloging process, and shifting collections from one area of the library to another. I even found one being used as an impromtu workbench up in the library’s fourth floor penthouse.

This is the half-sized version of the full black cart. What it lacks in depth it makes up for in utility. I was shocked to find that we have 27 of these throughout the library. Due to its slender profile, this cart is ideal for use as extra shelving next to our desks. And because they are more maneuverable (if more tippy) than the full cart, they are also useful for transporting smaller amounts of books from one work area to another.

Ah, the seldom-seen V-cart. These two-wheeled bookstore-style carts are mostly used to rush hot new titles from the back of the library to the Checkout Desk’s holds shelf. The key here is speed, not comfort. These carts are tricky to handle and shouldn’t be a top choice for those who need a flat shelf to sort books. But if you want to swiftly move a stack of books from one place to another, this low-rolling resistance cart is the way to go.

Speaking of agile book carts, the library world actually holds competitions to see which team can do the best synchronized dance routines with carts. I’m just glad I am not the only one who appreciates a good book truck.

The next time you are at the library please take a moment to think about all that our carts do for you. Without their dedicated service the library would be a much less organized place.

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