A Colorful Business Reference Collection

By Cameron, Hazel M. G. | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

A Colorful Business Reference Collection


Cameron, Hazel M. G., Reference & User Services Quarterly


This article explains the creative use of a dual-color system as a principle for organizing business reference materials in a major California State University (CSU) library. The article presents the key problems in organizing this reference collection and suggests that part of the solution is color-coding, an organizing technique long established in business and industry, but not well documented in libraries. The CSU business team examined color theories, chose appropriate colors, modified cataloging procedures for OPAC display, and designed a colorful Web site to access the reference collection. The enterprise successfully grouped together materials for similar study and allowed students to find materials more easily. The dual-color solution is fast and inexpensive and, as a result, saves time, makes reshelving easier, and allows staff to spot misshelved books more readily. With a growing interest in business collections and the formation of minireference areas in North American libraries, the dual-color system is well suited for other libraries in similar circumstances.

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The reference staff at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) field more questions about business than they do about other disciplines within the arts, humanities, sciences, or social sciences. There are two key reasons for this phenomenon. First, about one-quarter of all students are pursuing business courses. Second, universities have added new management courses as components of other programs. Recognizing the large number of business students and the growing importance of business at the university, the Pollak Library at CSUF has created a separate minireference area for business materials within the larger reference collection. Numerous problems emerged with respect to using, accessing, and finding information from this minicollection. One creative solution was the use of a dual-colored system to organize and to facilitate finding materials, modifying cataloging procedures to incorporate the new organization of materials, and designing a colorful Web site. This article outlines the problems and the solutions involved in organizing the business table reference collection by using colors. Many college and university libraries currently investigating the establishment of small, separate business collections or reference areas to meet the growing needs of business students would consider these findings very enlightening.

California State University, Fullerton

Its Business College and Library

CSUF is situated on 225 acres of what formerly was a vast Valencia orange grove. Orange County State College (as it was formerly known) began operating in September 1959 in temporary leased quarters. The "real campus" opened in the fall of 1960. After undergoing a series of name changes, the college finally became known as California State University, Fullerton in June 1972. More than 80 percent of CSUF's 28,851 students (slightly more than 21,000 FTEs) commute from within a fifty-mile radius of the university. (1) Most of its busy student population work part-time, have families, and are ethnically diverse.

Nearly 7,000 students have enrolled in the College of Business Administration and Economics. As a result, CSUF is the largest college within the Cal State system and is now recognized as the fifth largest business school in the United States and the largest in California. (2) The large enrollment can be partly attributed to its reputation and to the quality of its programs. For example, CSUF is the only school in Orange County whose accounting and business administration programs are both accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools in Business (AACSB).

The Paulina June and George Pollak Library serves the entire Cal State campus in Fullerton. The reference business collection at Cal State Fullerton, located in the new north wing, is spacious; but a special, smaller area within the reference area was established for some heavily used business materials since many assignments demanded exactly the same resources. …

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