We followed a book, as it progressed through the system of :
- being wanted by the library, but will it arrive via the legal deposit system, or because we buy it? has it even been published yet? lots and lots of checking
- how will it be paid for? which fund will be used, and can we actually afford it, and how many copies should we buy?
- ordering and receiving – frankly, the section that blew my mind in its complexity, and incomprehensibility – accounting systems are NOT intuative, but my colleague showed that once you get the hang of it it’s easy (s0 she says)
- cataloguing again, very interesting to see the complexity (I’ve never been a cataloguer!) but also interesting to see how life is made easier with downloadable records from Library of Congress, OCLC etc.
- processing – the labels, the tags, the shelving – the final step.
The member of staff responsible for each element of the process talked us through their contribution, demonstrating the systems they use, and we physically moved round the offices as we followed the book.
I have to confess, I don’t really “do” books. I’m pretty much soley with a focus on electronic sources, and database searching, and web resources. Many aspects of the process are while familiar in principle are completely new in “real life”. So I was looking forward to (indeed expecting!) revelations.
But it was also very interesting to hear the questions that came from colleagues who work other parts of the chain – eg didn’t realise what particular sections of that form were for, so didn’t realise that writing in it would impact on a colleague further down the line.
The amount of duplication and time-consuming hand-filling of forms that comes from the need to check whether we’re likely to get this book for “free” via legal deposit, or that we’ll have to pay for it. How much would it be possible to automate or copy/paste or do some sort of mail merge into a form from an electronic version of the BNB?
I was really pleased at how much I got out of the morning, and ejoyed learning from my colleagues, particularly when it may feel (correct me if I’m wrong, if any of you are reading this!) that the “teaching” always goes in one direction.