Have you ever wondered what magic occurs to make a book appear on the lending shelves in a library? The process has many very particular steps!
- A librarian peruses a collection development magazine, reading book reviews.
- They choose titles they would like to add to the library collection and place them on an online book vendor order list.
- Once they have compiled an entire order, they submit the order to the book vendor.
- Next, they print out order slips containing the information about each title on the order.
- (Here we insert a long pause while we wait for the order to be filled and shipped.)
- When the order arrives at the library, it is unpacked, checked against the packing list, and the applicable order slip is paired with each title.
- The books are placed on a book cart and taken to the librarian to catalog.
- The librarian searches online for a bibliographic record of descriptive information about each title and downloads these bibliographic records into the Catalog.
- Next, they access the library Catalog and open each bibliographic record to verify that all of the information in the record is correct, modifying when and where necessary and adding any missing information to the record. Access points are paid particular attention, to ensure that the information may be easily searched in the Catalog. These access points include author name, book title, series title, and subject headings. This process takes a considerable amount of time for each title. If no records of information were found for some of the titles, the librarian will have to create these records from scratch, significantly lengthening the amount of time spent cataloging these particular items.
- Once the bibliographic records are complete, item records are attached to each one. These item records contain the identifying information for each item, including spine label information and unique barcodes.
- The unique barcode labels are placed on their respective books. Spine labels, which will be used for locating the books on the shelves, are printed and applied to the spines of the books, along with any other applicable labels, such as a mystery label if the book is a mystery.
- Once the cart of items is complete, it is taken to the processing area.
- Here, the books are stamped with the name of the library, along with the current month and year.
- A readers’ review slip is placed on the inside back cover of each book.
- If a book has a book jacket (illustrated paper cover), then a clear Mylar (plastic) cover is placed over the book jacket to protect the cover and labels. If a book does not have a book jacket, a strip of clear book tape is placed along the spine of the book, protecting the spine and all of the labels.
- Once the cart of items is complete, it is taken to the circulation desk, where the items are added to the new book lists in the Integrated Library System (ILS), which is currently Koha.
- The books are then placed on the circulating shelves in the new book areas of the library.
As you can see, the process is quite complex and time-consuming, with certain portions of the process outside our control, such as time spent by the vendor filling, packing and sending the order, as well as shipping time for the package to get from the vendor to the library. Rest assured though, we are continually working behind the scenes to unpack, catalog, and process the books in as timely a manner as possible, so that they will be available for you to checkout and enjoy.