School Library Time! How books get from bought to shelved

My daughter starts school next week. I spent the day today in the school library, helping the librarian get everything ready.

Books towers swayed on the circulation desk. Books crammed onto carts. They lay in boxes, ready to be unpacked. And all around us a sea of books filled the shelves.

It was heaven.

For those who don’t know, stocking a library isn’t as easy as buying books and then sticking them on the shelf. Here are the steps that have to be taken:

  1. The librarian buys books, balancing the interests of the children and the needs of the teachers. Funds for these books come from various sources, but in our school the only funding for library books comes from our Book Fairs.
  1. Unpack all the books when they arrive.
  1. Enter each copy of each book into the system. This means also giving a unique barcode to each book, which is then written in the front of the book. It is often at this point where the librarian decides exactly where to shelve the book. This is not as much of an issue in an exclusively elementary or middle school, but in our K-8 school making sure material is placed in the proper area to avoid a too-young child from picking up a book they are not ready for is a vital part of the process.
  1. Print out both barcode labels and spine labels for each book.
  1. Put the labels on. Also, put our school name/address stamp in 3 places in the book, in case it gets lost.
  1. Cover them. Hard covers, dust jackets, and paperbacks each have a separate covering protocols.

Only when all those steps are completed, can put the book on the shelf.

I got about 20 books on the shelves today (considering my on-going war with contact paper covers, that’s pretty good). The librarian got some more. Many other books sit waiting only for the final step of covering. The librarian is planning a “covering party” after school starts to get us caught up.

I love working in the school library. It suits my skills and my interests,  and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing kids hugging their books, with glowing smiles on their faces.

I think I am more excited to go back to school than my daughter!

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