Buy book, put book on shelf, right? Ho, ho! Incorrect my friend. There’s a little thing called cataloging and processing that must take place before a book hits the shelf. At times it can be frustrating. It’s like you get handed an ice cream cone, but before you can eat it, you have to do some algebra problems. This early life of a library book is something that few people see, but it is something all books must go through. Let’s take a photographic look at how a new book gets on the shelf:

(Note: The process of book selection and collection development is a whole can-o-worms in an of itself. I love that part, but it isn’t as well suited for the whole photograph thing (“Look, here’s me reading professional reviews!”). See? So let’s just fast forward to already having the books).

1. You’ve Got a New Book

Alright, you have a book. It could have come from any number of sources: vendor, bookstore, publisher, or donation. I purchased “Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes” last weekend at McLean & Eakin in Petoskey, Michigan:

The important part is you’ve got a book and you want to get that sucker in the hands of young readers ASAP. Better keep going.

2. Cataloging Begins

The schools where I work use Follett library automation software. I like it. At this point I go onto the system and check to see if we have a MARC record available for this book. If we do have a record, then I proceed to step three. If not, then I create one. Here’s where subject headings knowledge and Dewey skills come in handy – thanks college!

3. MARC Record

Here I double check the subject headings and reading level. We have a variety of stickers we add to the spine if a book falls under a specific subject or genre. You a scifi fan? We got a sticker for you. Rather partial to historical fiction? Got you covered. The goal is to make it easier for kids to find what they’re looking for.

4. Processing Begins

Here’s where we start to really claim the books as our own. It is stamped with the school name:

given a barcode:

a spine label:

and the call number, price, date, and origin are handwritten inside the front cover:

Why do I deface my books so? Well, now this information is accessible at a glance, when you’re not next to to a computer (Ye Olde Librarian says, “I’m Ye Olde Librarian, I don’t like computers and I approve this technique”).

5. Wrapping

If you enjoy wrapping books, you are a bigger librarian than I. This is not my favorite step. Here each book is stripped of its jacket:

which is covered in a clear mylar cover:

The newly covered jacket is then taped back onto the book:

Well maybe I like this part a bit – the books look real nice when it’s done.

6. Circulation

Our book is ready to be checked out. I put this one on our “new books” table. Some go quick, others take some pushing – this one was gone before an hour passed. A good sight to see.

(Top Image: ‘Open book