Behind the Scenes at the library: Rotating the collection

By Annette DeFuso, Technical Services Director

Have you ever wondered why some of the Adams County Library materials are available in only some branches, and how the library determines which materials go where?  If you have, I’m here to provide the answer.

Most of the books and other materials purchased for the library system are housed in our main library building located in Gettysburg. Our five library branches maintain smaller collections of popular materials for their patrons. Have you ever wondered how we keep all of our branch collections new and interesting?  We’ve developed a unique method to move, or “rotate,” materials from Gettysburg out to the branches and back again. Each week, our branches send back part of their collection to the Gettysburg library and receive from Gettysburg an equal amount or materials in return. Over the course of a year, most of the books, DVDs, and audiobooks at a branch have actually been moved back to Gettysburg and replaced with different, new-to-the-branch items. 

Our branches coordinate their rotations according to a schedule set up at the beginning of the calendar year. This way not every branch is rotating the same materials, or too many of them, all at the same time. Staff and volunteers at the branches check their shelves to determine which items have been there the longest and should be sent back to the main library. Meanwhile, volunteers and staff at Gettysburg look at the shelves to find items that have not yet circulated at that branch and select those to send out to them.  Each item’s barcode is scanned, and its library location is reassigned. Then the items are packed up into delivery bags and loaded onto the library system’s bright orange delivery van. One of the important functions of our delivery van is to redistribute our collection around the county, and we couldn’t do without it. Several thousand items are rotated each month between the branches and the main library in Gettysburg.

All of our newly-purchased materials are also divided up equally among our branches and delivered to them after they are processed at Gettysburg. Many of our new books are immediately checked-out to fill requests, so it may take a while for them to return to a branch for display. In the meantime, branches can request extra new items to be sent to them to fill in any gaps they might have on their shelves. They can also return any excess items they find that aren’t circulating as much as they used to. Maybe these items have been on the new shelf for a long time, and are no longer really new, or perhaps they’re former bestsellers everyone has read.

Other special collections are held as well in the main library at Gettysburg until needed by the branches. For example, our holiday-themed books and movies are kept in storage and distributed to the branches before the holidays. Afterwards these materials are returned to storage, however, they can always be requested to be checked out at any time throughout the year. The constant rotation of materials from Gettysburg out to the branches and back keeps all of our collections relevant to the needs and interests of our patrons. There will always be something new to discover when you are browsing our libraries’ shelves anywhere in the system.

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Holly Weaver
Holly Weaver
2 years ago

How do you choose which kinds of materials are selected to be purchased and hit your shelves or which kinds will not be chosen?

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