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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Life of a Library Book: Cataloging/Processing

New books ready for check-out.
Posted by Amanda E.

After a book has been purchased and unpacked it gets cataloged! Gwen and I find or create a MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloging) record describing it as accurately as possible.  MARC records are essential to libraries, because all the information about an item needs to be accessible with a computer and, eventually, the library's card catalog.  MARC records contain a lot of information: description of the item, subject headings, & call #.  Sometimes, it is easy to find a MARC record, other times it is more difficult.

After the book is cataloged, it is processed.  It will be covered and protected so that it will last as long as possible while being checked out by as many people as possible.  Stickers and stamps will be placed on the book that identify it as belonging to The Edwardsville Public Library.  Each item receives a unique bar-code which is digitally attached to the appropriate MARC record in the catalog.  Finally, a spine label is joined to the item, which tells everyone where it belongs on the shelves.

The average time to catalog and process an item is four days.  Bestselling authors are sent to us early and cataloged and processed to be available for checkout on the same day the item is in bookstores.  Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the entire process can take as long as a week.  We do our best to minimize the time so that you can have library books as soon as possible.

1 comment:

  1. Cool! I didn't know half of this stuff. It like getting transparent explanations of how things work.