Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A book comes to the library… a long and winding trail
The library has lots of books, but exactly how do they get on the shelf?  Like most of you, we use Amazon to buy books, but the process of buying a book for the library is more convoluted than what we do at home (My personal system at home is to rip open the box and snuggle up in a comfy chair with my new book and some coffee or other beverage.  Repeat as needed.)

Picking and choosing
Librarians use their knowledge of the curriculum and research needs of their patrons to look for new books on appropriate topics to put into the library collection.  It’s easy to pick books that we’re interested in, but librarians have to choose books about topics that they may know little about or have little interest in. To select materials that meet the needs of their patrons, librarians read reviews in Library Journal and Choice, and in other resources.  We also take recommendations. If you know a book we should purchase, or a topic area in which you haven’t been successful in finding information, please let a librarian know.  We want our collection to meet your needs.

The paperwork begins, along with checking and double checking and triple checking
Once a book has been identified for purchase, we fill out a card with the title, the author, the publication date and edition, the cost, and the ISBN (individual standard book number), and sometimes other information.   Before ordering books, we need to check our catalog to verify that we don’t already own the item. After that, we have to check to see that we haven’t already ordered the book, and then confirm that an ordered copy of the book isn’t already here and just not in the catalog.  You probably don’t have that problem with the books you order for home, but when you order hundreds of books, you need to double check that you don’t already have the item sitting on a shelf somewhere.

Once we have identified materials for purchase, we go to Amazon (or other vendors) and order the books.  We have some special considerations that we apply to choosing which books to order.  We try to choose hard cover books, because they last longer, but sometimes the cost is much more expensive than that for a paperback.  So we have to decide whether the durability is worth the cost, or whether we would rather buy the less expensive paperback and maybe have to replace the material later. As a side note, librarians love when they have to replace a book because that means it was used. That means we picked something that people really, really wanted.  We also have to check to make sure that the item is the most recent version. In some instances we buy books that aren’t new because the item is out of print. Like you, we group our orders together to get FREE SHIPPING! 

Let the e-mail tracking begin!

Our orders can total hundreds of dollars and be shipped in lots of different shipments.  We get e-mails from Amazon as each shipment is mailed, causing a flutter of e-mails.

The paperwork in action

As boxes of books arrive, we have an extensive check-in procedure.  Each item is compared to the packing slip in the box, to make sure everything has actually arrived.  We look at each book to make sure that the items are in good (new, usually) condition.  Then we check the catalog again to ensure that we don’t already have the book.  We note the date the book was received on the order card that we filled out so many steps ago, and write down the actual ISBN.  Then we file one copy of the order card in “Orders received,” which we checked before we ordered the book. We do a little more paperwork, involving noting some information about the order inside the book, then we look up the Cutter number—that’s one of the parts of the call number.  It helps give each book a unique address on the shelf, so users can find it.  Next we check the WYLD catalog to see if any other library has cataloged it already. If they do, we can save some cataloging time by linking to their catalog record, but that step comes later.

Now we’re getting somewhere

From here, the book goes on the “To be Catalogued” shelf, and some paperwork is taken care of on the computer, noting that the item that had been ordered has now arrived.

The next step is Voodoo, or alchemy, or something like that.  Cataloguing Librarians (Susan and Nancy) enter into a mystical state and find the one true call number for the book, and do whatever it is that needs to be done to have the online catalog share that information with us when we search the catalog.  Mere mortals don’t have any idea how to do this.  (I passed cataloguing, mostly because the cataloguing teacher didn’t want me to grace her class anymore.  At least I think that’s how I got through… .)  The catalogers manage to get the call number not just into our catalog, but into the WYLD catalog (which lists almost all the books in Wyoming libraries) and the massive OCLC catalog (they have about as many books as McDonald's has served hamburgers). 

Finishing touches

Now the book enters the final stages before being put on the shelf for patrons to discover.  Student workers prepare the books by attaching the due date sheet inside the back cover, and stamping the book with “John Taggart Hinckley Library” and “NWC Library,” so everyone and anyone can see it’s our book.  They then insert security strips and sensitize the strips so the books don’t wander away without creating a ruckus.  They check the catalog again, to verify that the label on the spine and the barcode agree.  The student workers take the printed label and attach it to the spine of the book, “about a thumb width from the bottom of the cover.”  (Check this yourself.) It’s then covered, to protect it. Next, the last of the order slips, the one from the “Orders received” file, is put in the book, and the whole thing is put on the “Review” shelf, where a librarian does a quick quality check, to make sure the cover and labels and stamps are all correct.


Ready for the big time, the book is now placed on the New Books & Media shelves, where patrons can browse the new items.  With all the handling they’ve had, you probably think the materials are most of the way to worn out now, but they’re just beginning their journey. .  It may seem like all of these steps should make it take a long time to get a book, but generally, it only takes about two weeks to go from deciding to order a book to putting it on the shelf.  For the Hinckley Library, it happens about 3,000 times per year.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hey, let's get some goldfish.  No, Piranhas!  How about some pretty fish?  

The library has a water feature and people have expressed an interest in putting real fish in the pool.  While the librarians like fish, there are some reasons that the water feature can't house live fish.  First, the water is chlorinated and will kill them.  Second, there is no temperature control. Sometimes the water is rather warm, and sometimes it’s rather chilly. Most ornamental types of fish can’t handle the temperature swings.   Also, there’s no filter in the system, so things could get quite messy. The water is drained and the pool cleaned once per year.  Finally, some people like to throw things at fish.  So, we don’t have fish in the library water feature.

The water feature, with its fountains, was put in the entryway to the library for aesthetic purposes, but also to provide white noise so the library seems to be a quieter place. The librarians have “decorated” the pools with cobbles for the bottom, artificial floating fish (many of which have broken over the years, and we’re having a difficult time finding replacements), rosin turtles, and artificial lotuses.  There is even a rubber duckie who calls the water feature home.

The librarians want patrons to enjoy the pool.  Most simply look at the decorations and the fountains, but others have chosen to get more involved. Two students once turned the water feature into a fishing pond.  They brought lawn chairs and fishing poles and set up shop for a bit.  Alas, they left with no fish.
Children enjoy looking at the artificial fish, turtles, and lotus flowers when they come to the library.  Parents need to be aware that the water is approximately 2 feet deep, so you need to watch your children carefully.

Also, since the tank is only drained and cleaned once per year, any accidental swimmers should be sure to wash off carefully.

Feel free to come to the library and enjoy our water feature, just don’t get mad when we don’t want to get live residents.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sexy "S" Side Tables

Hinckley Library has lots of comfortable, innovative furniture scattered throughout the building. Some of it gets a lot of use. Other items seem to mystify users. We have created a short, image tutorial on various uses for our "S" side tables. Currently, the "S" tables get pushed aside and most people assume they are just traditional end tables. But, no! These lightweight, mobile tables have lots of uses.
These tables work well for use with laptops and various stuffed animals. Cat in the Hat finds them quite useful for working on ENGL 1010 assignments.
"S" tables also can be used to rest weary feet while reading. Because they are lightweight, one can move them anywhere in the building. So, feel free to use them as footstools. You can even share with a friend!
What are your favorite uses for these tables? We would like to hear from you.

Monday, July 8, 2013

National Parks--our natural & cultural heritage

Our current library exhibit is on National Parks. Can you answer these trivia questions?
  • Where was the first U.S. federal reserve created in 1832?
  • Yosemite (1864) was created eight years before Yellowstone (1872), so why is Yellowstone considered the first National Park?
  • Which of the 50 states DOES NOT have a national park?
So, do you have a favorite national park? Will you be visiting one this summer?