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Why Is It?
Candace Miller, Reference Librarian

The other day, I was looking for a book on child development in Leo.  I found what seemed like a good book, but in the place where it normally tells you whether or not the book is checked out, were the words “AT BINDERY.”  What does this mean?  When I went to the stacks to get the book I couldn’t find it.  So I looked in Leo for another book.  This time the part of the screen that has the call number and location was missing.  What’s going on?  Is Leo malfunctioning? 

Relax.  Leo isn’t broken.  “AT BINDERY” is what librarians refer to as a status code.  Our library, when given the choice, usually purchases paperback editions of books because they cost less.  However, paperback books won’t hold up to repeated use so we send them to a bindery where they give them hard covers.  In case you’re wondering, the bindery isn’t located on the JMU campus. In keeping with current management trends, we outsource this particular function.  Wert Bindery in Pennsylvania handles our binding.   The most common status code in Leo is “AVAILABLE,” but you may occasionally see other status codes.  “DUE 1/8/01,” means that the book is checked out and should be returned by January 8, 2001.  “MISSING,” means that the book can’t be found and library employees are trying to locate it. “LOST AND PAID,” means a patron has lost or damaged a book she checked out and has reimbursed the library the cost of the book. The library will then try to order a replacement copy.  “IN PROCESS,” means a new book is being catalogued or labeled. 

Now let’s tackle the issue of the missing call number and location boxes.  Once the library receives a book or other item, we catalog it.  I won’t bore you with the details.  Suffice it to say that when we catalog a book, we record a physical description of said book, the authors’ names, assign appropriate subject headings when necessary and a call number.  This information is called the bibliographic record.  The employees who do this (we call them cataloguers) input all of this information into Leo as they work.  The next step is to process the book.  This step includes giving the book a call number label, a security strip and bar code.  The latter is used for circulation purposes.  Library employees add an item record to the book during this time.  The item record tells where the book is located (in the Stacks, in Reference, etc.), its call number and its status code.  Occasionally a code is activated on the bibliographic record that eliminates the “IN PROCESS” status on the record before the item record is created.  In this case, patrons who look up this book in Leo will see the type of record you described: the author, title, subject headings and physical description are all there but no sign of the book’s call number or location. 

So what should you do in this situation?  Go to the Public Services Desk and show the person on duty the incomplete record.  We, in turn, will contact the folks in Knowledge Resource Management (the library department that processes new materials), and then get back with you.  If the Public Services Desk is closed, use the e-mail reference link on the Carrier Library Home Page to alert us to the problem.  Make sure you include the author’s name and the book’s title in your message.

E-mail comments and questions to:
clarkeke@jmu.edu

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