CPL staffer Louise shared in a recent blog post some of the effort that our staff puts into choosing materials for our collection. some of the effort that our staff puts into choosing materials for our collection. It is an important and challenging task, using our limited funding in the most efficient and useful manner to serve our patrons. However, once those materials are ordered our work has only just begun. It is after the books are ordered that the next round of tasks begin. My focus will be on the cataloging of children’s and young adult print materials, because that is how I (and one other staff member) spend any hours not at a public service desk.
You might think that the tasks for cataloging would only start once the physical books arrive, however we have some preparations to make first. We need to print out all orders and get the catalog records in the computer so that holds can be placed on the material. When the books do come in we need to check the packing slips and orders against the titles and details of the books in all the boxes. Sometimes Baker & Taylor or other suppliers do make mistakes or materials are damaged or flawed in some way. It is important to catch any of these problems long before labeling and cataloging actually begin.
After we have the books unpacked, checked, and in hand the real fun begins. In the children’s department there are several different categories of books, each of which need different labeling. There are board books, picturebooks, easy readers, easy non fiction, non fiction, graphic novels, juvenile fiction, and young adult materials. Each of these types have several sub categories and a variety of necessary labels, just to keep things interesting.
We sort all the books by type, and decide on the call number, genre, and more will be for each book. Every book will need a spine label with the call number, a barcode, and a RFID tag. They also need to be stamped with the Cheshire Children’s room address stamp and have the call number and barcode written on the interior of the book. Each type of book gets a different set of stickers. Some will need colored stickers over the call number to indicate subject matter, a sticker designating its reading level, awards won or nominated for, or its genre. Rather than giving you a long list of all the stickers, I will just give you a look at a few of the ones I use daily. Yes, there are many more. This is about half of the regularly used stickers and labels. After all the stickering fun is done there is still more to do. Paperbacks will need to be taped or covered to extend its life in circulation. Some hardcovers will need a cover on its dust jacket as well. Now we need to check the RFID tags in each book and either program them or make sure the correct barcode number is programed onto it.
Now it is time to enter the material into the computer. This can be the quickest part of the job, but also the most important. Small mistakes at this point could make materials nearly impossible to find on the shelf. We need to make sure the call number, barcode, location, and other vital information is all correct in the catalog. If a book is newly published, this is also when it gets a New sticker added to the previous collection of stickers. Then we check in the item and make it available for the first hold, or put it on the shelf for you to check out.
Materials in the children’s and young adult collection keep the new designation for six months. After that they are collected and pass through staff hands again so that the sticker can be removed and the information updated in the computer. You might see me doing this while working at the Children’s Desk. When material are damaged or are sadly in need of removal from the collection we then need to discard the book from our collection. This means more stamping and computer work. If you visit the third floor of the library, you can browse the discarded children’s and young adult materials that are still in good condition. You are welcome to take these home and keep. We hate having to let go of books, even though we have to in order to make room for more, and knowing that someone will use and enjoy them makes it a little easier.