Follow that… book

This morning I was the audience for the part of 23Things at the Medical Library that we call Follow that….!

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.


6 Responses to Follow that… book

  1. Jenni says:

    Found the whole thing really useful – you don’t realise how much goes into it! I was also amazed by the ordering and receiving bit.

  2. Anne says:

    Glad you found it interesting. Although it’s one of my babies, I was still surprised at the complexity of just getting a book to the shelves

    I found the teaching element made me check over the rationale and try to link the interacting elements in a logical fashion. As presention isn’t my strong point it was a good exercise.

    The questions from different folk made me question some of the processes and how they could be done better. It’s great to have folk with fresh eyes who are prepared to sound off! -I’ll continue to pursue the online BNB.

  3. Tom says:

    “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 did ask Anne about this but it comes down to the fact that we don’t get the BNB in electronic format. I’d be happy to help build a system to automate the process, or whichever parts of it are amenable to automation, should the situation change.


    ps. your blog title is missing a letter… 🙂

    • ilk21 says:

      yes – just had someone else mention that to me – freudian slip, or what!
      Am currently wrestling with idea of trying to copy from into a access db, and then mail merge into a form that can be printed out, but haven’t got very far yet.
      Might have a chat about it tonight.

      • Tom says:

        I’m not on tonight I’m afraid, I swapped with Sheila this week!

        The trouble with the “OPAC” interface to the BNB, for this purpose, is that it’s not possible to view all records for a given time period. You can filter by year but it won’t let you search without some word or phrase to search on. Dewey number searching might be a way, but using wildcards (as you’d need to specify a range rather than specific numbers) always seems to produce too many results.

  4. Niamh says:

    Thanks for bloggimg it Isla, sounds really interesting!

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