October 20, 2014

Processing New Books: Wishlist to Library Shelf

by Andrea Basso
RSSAA Librarian, Lower School

[Notes from the Ellie Klopp Library]      
How many steps does each new book need to go through before you check it out from our library?
  1. First, the librarians decide which books to purchase and put them on our library Wishlist. Our choices are based on teacher recommendations & student requests to be reviewed, our school curriculum needs, and old or missing books needing replacement --- with the aim of refining and reshaping our book collections to better reflect our Waldorf curriculum and providing for the needs of our school library patrons. As our library is essentially near capacity, the number of new books we plan for in any given year is limited by available shelf space (only increased when books are withdrawn from circulation) and our current library budget. 
  2. Once we have selected the books to be purchased, we buy them from a local bookstore and/or online, often from the shops listed in our Favorite Book Sources.
  3. After the books arrive, we stamp the RSSAA address on the inside covers, pages, and pocket card; then glue the pocket card inside the back of the book.
  4. We also have to decide which of the four basic categories each book falls under: Early Readers, Paperbacks, Hardcover Fiction, or General Collection (mostly non-fiction).
  5. Now comes a tricky part: creating a checkout card plus four different kinds of library catalog cards based on which category each book belongs to. To be more precise: Readers just have author catalog cards; Paperbacks have author and title cards; Fiction and General books have author, title, subject(s) and shelf list cards. The catalog cards are then filed into the appropriate Card Catalog drawers, providing us with a physical catalog for book searches and inventory.
  6. After all these steps, we can put the school label on the front cover (reminding borrowers to return the book to the Lower School Library), and then work on the next step: the spine label.
  7. The Call Number (or letter) on the main spine label denotes the collection to which the book belongs along with the first 3 letters of the author's last name [for example: R/Arn, PB/Bot, F/Chi, or 398.2/Zuc]. Additional spine labels might also designate special collections or books that are about specific topics. For instance, Waldorf books (blue dots), Middle School books (red dots), Humor books, and Parent Library books (yellow dots) get a special designation on the catalog card and on the books themselves. In addition, biographies often have extra spine labels to designate the career or special skill of the person they are about, and folk tales and fairy tales often include the country they are from.
  8. Once the labeling is done, we choose which kind of protective cover is best for each book: dust jacket or laminate, if needed.
  9. Now we use scanning technology to input the ISBN number of each book into our online catalog on LibraryThing.com. We also record the number of copies we have and different subjects (tags) and categories the books belong to, and whether books are in LS or HS collections.
  10. When all the steps above are done, librarians can finally put the newly processed book in its place on the library shelf, ready for you to check out!
No wonder it takes so long to go from purchasing the books to putting them out for circulation!

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