Behind the Scenes at CPL – Circulation

In previous behind-the-scenes posts, we’ve talked about collection development (acquiring materials), and cataloging (preparing acquired materials for the shelf). You might think that the librarian’s job ends once an item is safely on the shelf. Nope, once we own an item, our next task is to get it into your hands! This is the main objective of the Circulation Department, but really everyone on staff, no matter what department, takes part in promoting and maintaining our collection.  Let’s take a look at some of the ways we do this:

Shelving.  Having a library full of great materials won’t do us any good if people can’t fintumblr_inline_nruastxzs41sbaj14_500d them. To that end, shelving is critical. Getting items back to the shelf as quickly as possible after they are returned is the main job responsibility of our Pages. They know our shelves inside and out, and keep them in good order. When they are not shelving, you will often find them shelf-reading, going through the shelves to make sure that books are where they should be and in the proper order. With over 100,000 items in our collection, this is no small task!

Highlighting Materials. With so many items on our shelves, browsing through them can be a bit overwhelming! We often highlight smaller sectPhoto Sep 16ions, whether it be small displays at the ends of the shelves, or larger separations by genre. For example, you probably know that we keep our newer materials separate from the rest of the collection, but did you also know that we separate Mystery and Science Fiction from the rest of Fiction? Or that Romance Paperbacks have their own section? Classics and Comedies are highlighted within the Feature Films DVD section. And don’t forget to check our Staff Picks section for book recommendations from our staff!

Holds and Reserves. Holds and reserves take up a lot of staff time. We get reports twice daily that list items that patrons request – and that list is long! Any requested item that is on the shelf must be searched for, pulled, and trapped for the patron who requested it. If the patron is from Cheshire Library, we then notify them and place their hold(s) on the Hold Shelf in our Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 12.28.17 PMLobby. After 5 days, if the item has not been picked up, it gets returned to the shelf, or passed on to the next person on the waiting list. (You might be shocked to know how many people never pick up their holds – we are!)

Holds for Cheshire patrons are only half the story, though. We also receive requests for inter-library loans from other libraries in our consortium. A lot of them! We get and receive dozens of inter-library loan items every day through the state library’s C-Car delivery system.  We pull, wrap and pack boxes full of C-Car items every single day!

UNOPTIMIZEDMending. When an item gets checked out over and over again, it can get a little worn. Pages get torn or loose, discs get scratched, cases get broken. Whenever possible, we try to fix these problems and get the items back to the shelves. Several of our staff have received training on book mending, and our A/V catalogers use a disc repair machine for troublesome CDs and DVDs.

photoweedingWeeding. Nothing lasts forever. To keep adding new materials to our shelves, we must remove other materials, called “weeding”. We begin by checking the condition of older items, if they are too worn or need more repair than is practical, we weed them out. If we have multiple copies of a former bestseller, we keep the one in the best condition and weed the rest out. We run circulation reports, telling us which items have not been checked out in a long period of time (years), and weed them out. We’d love to keep every book forever, but shelf space must determine the amount of items we can offer. Many weeded items get added to our semi-annual book sale to benefit the Friends of the Cheshire Public Library, and many items get donated to charity.

Of course, we’re also here to help you to search for items in our catalog, find out the next book in your favorite series, check items out and back in again, and much more. Circulation means keeping our items moving, and it’s part of everyone’s job at Cheshire Library!

(Animated gif images from and the University of Mary Washington Book Repair Dept.)

Behind the Scenes at CPL- Children’s Cataloging

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. boxes of bookWhen 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. CAM00070Yes, 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.
MCAM00068aterials 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.

Behind the Scenes at CPL – Selecting New Books

With more than 100,000 items on our shelves, Cheshire Library is a busy place!  If you’ve ever wondered how many people it takes to keep our collection humming, you can find out in a new series of posts about what goes on behind the scenes at CPL. Today’s subject is Collection Development – or Buying New Stuff.Photo Apr 23 copyWe have several librarians who are in charge of maintaining the different collections here at CPL. Designated staff members are tasked with ordering Adult print materials, Children’s print materials, Teen print materials, Adult audiovisual materials,  Children’s audiovisual materials, and Periodicals. For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on the selecting and ordering of Adult print materials.

Photo Apr 23Deborah Rutter is the Deputy Director of Cheshire Library, and a large part of her job revolves around the development of our Adult print collection. With a dizzying number of books being published each month, Deb must carefully read professional publications like “Library Journal” and “Baker & Taylor Forecast” for reviews and publishing news, in order to select upcoming titles that would be popular with our patrons. Deb says books about gardening, home decor, history, travel, and self-help are always in demand here at CPL, so she always makes sure to order the latest titles in those subjects!

Fiction buying can be a little trickier. In addition to reading professional publications, Deb can often be seen perusing the “New York Times Book Review”, “Book List”, and lots of other book-related websites to stay of top of what’s got “buzz” in the publishing world. Of course, purchasing the latest books by popular authors is a given. Deb also checks to see what the print runs of upcoming books are, and whether they are being released simultaneously as audiobooks in addition to print. Both of these factors can be helpful in figuring out the predicted popularity of a new book.

Photo Apr 23-2Once there’s a list of books to buy, it’s time to decide how many copies we should purchase. A lot of this has to do with our current book budget, but a book with an outstanding review, or lot of patron requests, will also help determine how many copies we should buy.

Patron suggestions are always welcome. We buy many of the books that people request, so if there’s a book you’d like to see in our collection, let us know! There’s a handy form on our website for exactly that purpose. Book orders are made about twice a month, as a rule, so suggestions for purchase can often be accommodated quickly.

Selectors have a tough job. Our collection at Cheshire Library is curated with a lot of care and thought, and it shows.  In the next behind-the-scenes post, we’ll find out what happens AFTER the books arrive!