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From Shipment to Shelf

Here at the Adams County Library System, we receive regular shipments of books, DVDs, and audiobooks every week.  Some are upcoming releases heading for a release date the following week, but our materials also include endowments and specific order requests from patrons. Primarily, however, the responsibility of ordering materials is shared among a number of our library staff, who cover different categories, including fiction, non-fiction, children’s, young adult, and DVDs.   All of these books and DVDs come to the Gettysburg branch for cataloging, but when finished, they are sent out among all six branches of the Adams County Library System- Gettysburg, Carroll Valley, New Oxford, Littlestown, Biglerville, and East Berlin.

When they arrive, I unpack and organize the materials and set them aside for the order to be reviewed, and once they return to me, I start the process of cataloging so that library patrons can find the new materials in the Adams County Library catalog system.  This process can range from simple copy cataloging to more complex original cataloging.  As we share our catalog system with other Pennsylvania libraries, some materials have been partially or completely cataloged by my counterparts elsewhere in the state, such as York County Libraries or the Lackawanna County Library System. In other cases, I can pull up catalog records from a wider variety of library systems across the country, import them into our catalog and add finishing touches according to our particular cataloging standards. On rare occasions, I have used records from Europe or Australia as the basis for creating a catalog record, but that is less common than simply creating a new record from scratch myself. 

            Creating a new catalog record is perhaps the most satisfying process on a professional level, but it is also the type of cataloging that takes the most time.   The most important aspect is creating sufficient and accurate subject headings so that patrons can find what they are looking for in our catalog system.  For nonfiction books, the next key step is assigning an appropriate call number under the Dewey Decimal System, so the books can be found on the shelf.  Once the catalog records are complete, each item is assigned a barcode for our catalog system and a spine label.  The latter includes its Dewey Decimal number and the author’s last name for non-fiction, or the genre (mystery, romance, etc.) and author’s name for fiction.  For DVDs, an abbreviated form of the title replaces the author’s name. 

            After the catalog record, barcode, and spine label, the books are set aside for processing- which involves plastic covers to better protect the books and property stamps so that the books are clearly labeled as Adams County Library System materials- all so they can come back to us and be ready for the next patron!  Once that is done, the materials are sent out to the six branches of the library system, either headed for the ‘new materials’ shelves or the hold shelves for patrons who have placed a book or DVD on reserve in advance.  In six months, books will be moved from their ‘new’ status, and eventually, they will rotate to different branches of the library system, but that is a topic for another day.

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