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The Life of a Book, Part Two

New books on a cart waiting to be processed

Chapter 2: The Book is in the Building!

Last week we learned all about the Library’s budget, how a library book is chosen, and how orders are placed. But the fun doesn’t end there…


We receive deliveries of new library materials every day. One of the most exciting parts of working in a Library is getting to open up a new box with brand new books, many of which aren’t even released yet! Last week, Kifflie ordered The Winners by Fredrik Backman and this week it has arrived! Joe, one of our Technical Services and Reference Assistants, gets to unbox the book.

Joe, Technical Services and Reference Assistant

Receiving and Cataloging

Our technical services staff receive the materials and get them ready for cataloging.  Anne and Joe sort and alphabetize items, working through the invoices to be sure we’ve received everything that was ordered and it is the correct format.

Joe, Technical Services and Reference Assistant

Our new team member Travis catalogs the items.  Catalogers create and edit the bibliographic records you see in the online catalog, making sure the subject and genre are searchable and titles, authors and summaries are formatted correctly.  Then, they prepare item records for each copy of the title.  That record contains data like call numbers, barcodes, collection and loan period data, and other statistical data.

Travis, Technical Services and Reference Assistant


Now it’s time to fancy up this library book.  Katie, our Processing and Reference Assistant, processes all incoming library material. Depending on the type of material, the item could be straightforward with a call number sticker, barcode and tag. Other items may need a whole new container, artwork made, or a dust jacket put on.  Have you checked out something from the Library of Things? Their processing takes quite some time.  Our goal is clear, readable labels for a clean-looking item.

One of the purposes of processing is to help identify items, like adding labels and barcodes. Other types of processing help protect the item from wear. Some items will have a dust jacket, like a coat of armor.  This protects the cover for (hopefully) years to come. Please help keep the items clean and damage free. To process The Winners, Katie needs to print out a spine label with the call number, stamp the book, tape and reinforce the binding, put a yellow “new” sticker on with the month we received it, write the date we received it in the back of the book, and install a tag so that you are able to use our fancy new self-check machines to borrow it. Then she sneaks a peek at what the Fredrik Backman hype is all about!

Katie, Processing and Reference Assistant


Sometimes items are returned with damage. What weird stuff have we found in or on items? We have had items returned with sand, Bandaids, water, paint, oil, puddle water, snow, coffee, spaghetti sauce, a nail file, pool water, rain, car tire marks, candle wax, gum, glue, dog bites, child bites, stickers, chocolate, leaves, woodchips, soda, milk, soup, stir sticks, and the list goes on. We ask that everyone take great care of Library materials so that others can enjoy them, too. But sometimes accidents happen! If you ever damage an item, let the Circulation staff know. Sometimes we are able to repair items. We even have a buffing machine to repair scratched DVDs and CDs! Other times, the materials are too damaged to circulate.

Stay tuned for Chapter 3 where we will wow readers with the fast-paced world of the Circulation Department and get items into the hands of patrons!