I’m Just a Book Part I

Remember Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill”?  It was a rockin’ cartoon that taught us children of the 70/80s how a bill becomes a law.  Well, I thought I would do a library version, “I’m Just a Book”, and explain how a book becomes part of our collection, actually I will share its whole cycle at our building (from purchase to weeded).  This will be a two part-er, not only because it will run long, but because I am going on a little vacation. 😉

There are basically 2 ways for a book to become part of the Morgan County Library collection, donation or purchase.  I will go over donation first.  An individual can donate materials, but that does not always mean that it will be added to the collection.  First thing we check is the age of the donated item, we tend to only accept “current” material, anything published in the last couple of years.  If the book is older, we usually put it in our ongoing book sale, if we already have a copy of the item, we sometimes use the donation to replace a worn out copy. Condition and format comes next; if the item is too small, too large, worn, not something our patron’s would read, etc. If it passes our “tests” then it is accessioned, as all purchased material is, but before we discuss that part of the journey, we will look at purchased items. 

Jessica purchases CDs, Graphic Novels, YA books and digital content, Kelly purchases our Easy and Juvenile books and I purchase Videos and Adult books, but of course we are only talking books this time around and you are going to get my approach, duh, this is my article.  Patrons can request books, again the age of the requested material and if other patrons will be interested in the book are considered.  If the requested item does not meet these two requirements, we will do an inter-library loan for them.  The majority of our books are purchased through Baker & Taylor, a large book distributor for public libraries and schools. Sometimes we have to purchase from my least favorite person, yep, you guessed it, Jeff (Amazon), sometimes it is the only avenue to find a copy, but boy do we try everything else before that. 

We use various resources to help decide what books should become part of our collection; book reviews, publications such as School Library Journal, best seller lists such as the New York Times, famous book clubs such as Oprah, Reese and Jenna, award winners, etc.  Then we start with our distributor.

I have a folder with patron requested material, I go through that first and add any approved requests into the appropriate cart (depending on the release date).  Then I go to the new release calendar, I will browse through the current month and the next month.  I can apply a variety of filters to my search, my first filter, 1. audience – General Adult, duh.  Then I play with various filters in specific orders, I usually reset the filters at each step: 2.  Demand (to get the biggest requested items, the James Patterson’s, etc.)  I look for the few items that have the largest demand, anywhere from 1000 ordered to 3000, it just depends on the month.  3. Is actually not a filter, but a selection list that Baker and Taylor provides, specifically the best seller lists.  4. Review Publication (to find positive reviewed items from Library Journal, Kirkus, etc.) This tends to help find literary (not necessarily the best-sellers) fiction and good quality non-fiction.  I also concentrate on designated Dewey numbers each month, to help strengthen sections, so good reviews are a great way to accomplish this. 

I also do stats, that I mentioned last week, to determine where my budget should go.  I actually have a collection of carts; fiction, non-fiction, large print, biography (the biggest checkout of non-fiction).  Each cart has a specific dollar amount to hit.  After I run my first 4 “filters” I can check the carts and see where I am, if I need more non-fiction (which is typically the case, go figure, the highest demanded items tend to be fiction) then I can go back and tweak my filters more, specifically looking at adult non-fiction, etc.  I then sneak a look into the next month’s new releases for the top popular items that will be printed before the 10th, I sure don’t want to miss out on a big item (sometimes things sell out, boo, then we have to wait for a backorder).  After my carts are full, I put them into one cart for the month and order them. 

Then UPS delivers big boxes and accessioning starts…remember when that bill goes from an idea, to a bill, then makes its way to Capital City…welp, that is where our books are, the Morgan County Library, waiting to become part of the collection…

Upcoming Events: 10/27 Story Time at 10am, 11/2 Book Club at 6:30pm, Adult Reading Challenge runs through November 30, swing by the library for more information.

I’m Just a Book Part II

Our book has made it to the library, imagine when the bill is “sitting here on Capitol Hill”, remember Schoolhouse Rock from last week? 

It is time to unload the boxes from Baker & Taylor. This is the accessioning part! The staff unpack items, matching them to the packing slip, checking the items off with red pen and noting the date received on pkg. slip. Then they pull the order form from the Director file, Children’s Collection file and/or Assistant Director file and match items received with the original form.  If the item is a replacement or request, a post it with the correct information is attached. Using a mechanical pencil; month and year, the supplier and the cost are written in the book. The Library stamp is stamped on a specific page, then a pocket goes in back of each book, noted with the month and year on the top left of the pocket. 

The book then goes on a shelf, ready for the cataloger.  If any sticker is required: award book, holiday kids book, genre for adult, etc. it is affixed before the last marks are made in the book.  The title page is marked with our stamp, category (area of the library the item is for) and author/Dewey number. Guess what?  At this point we have marked it all up, seemingly making it ours, but no one can check it out until it is cataloged.  Jessica catalogs the books I order, along with the ones she orders.  Apollo has a handy feature that allows us to import biblio records from other libraries, easy as a push of a button, well, not exactly.  I have mentioned that book we have been working on to make our cataloging as uniform and user friendly as possible, this is where all the things Jessica and Kelly have been adding to the book over the last couple of years comes into play. 

When the cataloging is completed, the book officially shows up active in Apollo.  Yea!!  You can check it out!  Well, not yet, the spine label, barcode and adding the jacket is the final step for most of our books.  Labels and barcodes are printed and adhered to the right parts of the book, then, if the book has a dust jacket, we put another jacket on it, think of it as a rain jacket.  Now that book is really part of our collection, “the bill has become a law.” 

The next part is all up to you.  That book is part of the collection, but how long will it stay that way?  Sorry, I cannot keep every book we ever purchase.  I have shared information about weeding before, one staff member referred to me as the grim reaper of books, okay, that is kinda fair, but as long as you guys continue checking an item out, it stays. Well, it stays until it falls apart, and then, if possible, we replace it with a new copy.  We have some books that have been here since there was a city and county library, but we also have books that don’t stay over 4 years on the shelf, again it is all up to you and obviously the author.  Not all things printed are worth the paper they are printed on, well, I guess that is what the deal is. Hmmm, kind of like that bill I referred to in the beginning. 

Well, it is definitely time for me to wrap this up, I feel myself veering into politics and that is never good.  Hope you have enjoyed the “I’m Just a Book” journey, if I were really creative I would have created a schoolhouse rock jingle, nope, I am already enjoying the Smoky Mountains. 

Upcoming Events: 11/3 Story Time at 10am, 11/13 LEGO Play at 10:30am, Adult Reading Challenge runs through November 30, swing by the library for more information.