A Day in the Life...of a New Library Book

By Diane Baden

Well done! You looked up your book in the catalog, wrote down the call number, checked the Locate function to find the right shelf, found the book, and checked it out. Seems easy enough, but it takes a village to select, purchase, catalog, label, and shelve that book for you. O'Neill Library adds about 20,000 print volumes a year. Ever wondered how they all get here?

First, someone selects the title. That someone could be you (from your Quest Account link), a faculty member, or one of the library's Subject Specialists, or one of our book vendors. Once the title has been selected, the staff in our Technical Services area (aka Room 212 in O'Neill Library) place the order with the vendor and create an order record in our automated system. You may see these in the catalog with the notation On Order. Depending on where the book has been published and how recently, we might order from one of our primary suppliers, who handle many different publishers. Or, we might order it from Amazon or an out-of-print book dealer. The staff in 212 knows where we are most likely to get good service, fast shipping, and a reasonable price. Through special arrangements with some of our suppliers, books in certain subjects and languages are actually selected for us and sent to us completely cataloged and processed, ready for circulation. This saves a huge amount of time and gets the most heavily used materials to the shelves quickly and efficiently.


Stephanie Rice '13. Kimberly Addison '12,
Hannah Bachand '13 from O'Neill End Processing
Photo by Kevin Tringale

The books arrive at O'Neill Library via US mail, UPS, or other delivery services. The boxes are unpacked and the books checked off on the invoice or packing slip to make sure that everything that is supposed to be in the shipment is actually there. We indicate in our library management system that the book has arrived, which changes the Quest catalog On Order status to In Process. At this point, the book heads to the cataloging unit, and the invoice is sent for payment. Staff add complete data to the catalog record, including the call number that indicates the shelf location and the barcode that allows the book to circulate. It is now considered On Shelf, although it isn't quite there yet. The book heads over to End Processing, where our terrific student workers stamp the edges with our library name, add theft-detection strips and date due slips, and print out and apply spine labels with the call number. Almost every day a cartload of newly processed books is wheeled up to Access Services, where some titles are placed on the New Book Shelf in the O'Neill Library lobby, and others are sent to the shelves.

As you can see, we need to handle each volume to make sure the library receives what is has ordered and paid for, and to ensure that each title is represented in the catalog for you to discover when you search. Our goal is to get you the materials you need and make it easy for you to find them. See how the system works, ask us to purchase a book or even a DVD or CD using your Quest account.

Diane Baden, Head of Monographic Services, O'Neill Library