How the Magic Happens

Check-Out the Henry County Library

By: Kristin Bennett

How the Magic Happens

            Have you ever wondered where the library purchases all of its materials and what it takes to get a new book out on the shelf? There is a lot more to the process than just buying a book and putting it on the shelf as soon as it arrives. The process starts with a book vendor. There are many book vendors who buy materials from publishers and then sell those materials to libraries and bookstores. The Henry County Library works with several different vendors in order to get the best prices and the best materials. Although we do use one main vendor we also use a vendor specifically for audiobooks, a vendor specifically for large print materials, a vendor for children’s materials and a vendor for western novels.

 When deciding which materials to purchase there are a lot of considerations to be made. One thing we do is look at bestsellers lists such as the New York Times, Kansas City Star and USA Today and make sure to buy materials that are nationally popular. We also automatically purchase anything written by bestselling authors such as James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, John Grisham, Stephen King and others. Our vendors will send the library lists of their newest materials and we will look the list over and pick the materials that we believe best fit the collection and will be most utilized by our patrons.

            One of my favorite things about being involved in the collection process is that I get to order books months before they come out which means I get the inside scoop on upcoming titles. For someone who is as much of a book nerd as I am, this is a major treat! Normally, we purchase books anywhere from 3-6 months in advance of their publish date. When a book finally comes in after purchase it has to be unpacked and checked in. Then it is stamped and given a bar code. Once that process is complete then it is cataloged and added to the library’s online public access catalog or OPAC. This allows patrons to look up the book on the computer and it also means that the book’s information will come up so it can be checked out when the bar code is scanned.

Once the book has been cataloged there is just one more step that needs to be completed; covering. Library books go through a lot of hands and because of this they need to be very durable. That is why we put a clear plastic cover on all of our books. As a result of this they will last longer and stay in better condition throughout their life spans. Now, once all of this has been completed a book can finally make its big debut on the library shelf. A book will normally be processed by 3-4 different staff members during its journey from purchase to the shelf. So next time you pick up a library book, know that it took a team effort from the library staff to get that material into your hands.