April 12, 2012

Look ‘behind scenes’ at SV public library

By Victoria Yarbrough
Director of Leisure and Library Services
City of Sierra Vista
Books have to go through several processing steps before they are placed on library shelves. Without this delay, libraries could not provide the level of service they offer customers or effectively keep track of their books.

Have you ever wondered how a book actually gets onto the shelf at your library? Chances are you haven’t, so we want to give you a look at what happens “behind the scenes” at the Sierra Vista Public Library!

The process of selecting books for the library can be complex, but essentially staff looks to fulfill the needs of the community. We pay particular attention to both what is popular and what is necessary to create depth in certain areas of our collections.

Different staff select books for broad areas including adult fiction and nonfiction, children’s and young adult fiction and nonfiction and then other more specific areas such as medical material or mysteries. Some books are selected based on reviews from various sources, patron requests, or even what’s featured on popular television or radio programs.

When selected books have been ordered and received, staff completes a series of tasks before the book is placed on the shelf for patrons to enjoy. First, staff verifies the books ordered while ensuring that books requiring jackets are covered, not damaged, and the correct format has been sent as books come in different bindings and versions. The book is then sent to cataloging.

Books in the cataloging area are sorted into different genres such as mysteries, young adult, or children’s. Each book is stamped with the library’s name, staff inserts a magnetic security strip, and a library barcode is placed on the book.

Our cataloger then checks the library’s online catalog to see if a record for the book already exists. Since the catalog is shared between all libraries in Cochise County, often a record is already there. In this case, the cataloger can simply add our item to the existing record.

If a record is not within the Cochise County database, then the cataloger searches a worldwide online database — containing billions of records — to find one that matches so it can be modified for our use.

Not every book can easily be found in this database, especially locally published books. In this case, our cataloger creates an original record from scratch and adds it to the catalog.

As soon as the book’s record is added to our catalog, patrons can view and reserve the book online through the Library Catalog link at www.SierraVistaAZ.gov/svlibrary. After the book is cataloged, a label is generated with the book’s call number and placed on the spine. Then the book makes its way to circulation where a protective cover is added, if needed.

New books that don’t need covers are given a colored dot for the month it arrived. The colored dot determines how long a book remains on the “New” shelf. Staff members check to see if a book has been reserved; waiting patrons are then notified that books are available for pick up. If the book is not reserved, the book makes its way into the library for anyone to check out!

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