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    Becoming a Library Book 
    by Judy Anderson and Patricia Hardesty

    Ever wonder what a book goes through to achieve the status of a library book?  Sure, you can go to amazon.com and order a book, have it in no time, and start reading it as soon as you cut open the padded mailer.  But a library book is different.  In a library, people have to be able to find a book on the Ice Age, or paper recycling, or whatever, so the book must be cataloged and entered in a database.  And, when patrons find the description of the book they want, they need to have an address to find it, so it must be assigned a call number and shelved.  Because it may be used by dozens of patrons, and has to stand up to heavy use, it may have to be bound or otherwise protected, and also needs to be protected from theft so that library patrons can continue to enjoy the book for years to come.

    Carrier Library purchases over 17,000 books each year, and over 1,000 non-print items, such as videotapes and CDs.  Ordering, receiving and cataloging activity has peaks and valleys, with most of the ordering happening between September and January, and most of the receiving occurring from January through March.  Most cataloging also occurs during receiving time, with some work extending into summer months.

    When a box of books arrives in the Acquisitions department, the staff person matches the enclosed invoice with each item to be sure it contains the items for which we're being charged.  Next, each book is checked against the library database, LEO, to ensure that the books received were the exact ones ordered:  title, purchase order number, and edition information is verified.  Is the book in acceptable condition?  If everything checks out, the books is "received," and the invoice cleared for payment.  When this step is taken, the LEO catalog will show a notation something like this, "1 copy being processed for Carrier Library."  The Acquisitions Assistant checks to see if any special handling is required:  is the item going on reserve, does the selector wish to be notified that the book has arrived?  Following this procedure, the Acquisitions Assistant then passes the book on to a Cataloger, a staff member who is assigned to 'catalog' it

    Book is matched with invoice

    During cataloging, a book is 'matched to' or 'compared with' a bibliographic record that best describes it.  This bibliographic record will include basic citation information about the book which can be searched on LEO according to keyword and major 'access points.'  These access points usually include:  the author or authors' names, the book's title, basic subject headings, or controlled vocabulary terms which describe the intellectual content of the book, and the call number which is used to locate the book on the shelves.   Other descriptive information is also included on the bibliographic record:  the book's physical description (number of pages and overall size, etc.), publisher information, including the date it was published, and other notes.  The Cataloger may edit or add information on the bibliographic record as needed in order to correctly match the book with the bibliographic record.  The notation on LEO describing the status of the book during this process will remain the same as, "1 copy being processed for Carrier Library."  Following the completion of cataloging, the next step is to 'process' the book

    .Labeling the book

    The processing procedure includes giving the book a call number label, a security strip, and a bar code.  The latter is used when the book is circulated.  An item record is also attached to the bibliographic record on LEO at this time.  This item record shows up on the LEO screen in the form of a 'box' and shows where the books is located (in the Stacks, in Reference, etc.), its call number and its circulation status code.  Once the item record has been added to LEO, the usual notation describing the status of the book will change to "AVAILABLE."  If the book needs to be bound, it will be sent to the bindery.  In  that case, the status notation will read "AT BINDERY."  Once bound, the status will change to "AVAILABLE."  Following processing, the book is sent to Circulation for shelving.

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

    Copyright 2002. JMU Libraries.
    All rights reserved.