Monday, November 13, 2006

Library Catalogs

I've been spending a lot of time looking at and thinking about our library catalog recently. We're nearing the end of a large (dare I say huge?) construction/renovation project. Right now, most of the adult books (that aren't in storage) are crammed together in one main area (young adult and biography share a space that is not their final resting spot). The children's books are crammed into one square of space.

Eventually, the space where all the fiction/nonfiction adult books currently reside will be only fiction, while nonfiction, biography, and a few other areas will be moved into the new nonfiction/reference area. The children's book will spread from one square of space to three. And the young adult collection will be moved into its own room.

In addition to physically getting the books in place, we need to make changes to the catalog so that patrons can find the books (they'll be lost for weeks with just the physical move, but we'd like to give some sort of chance to find their books...more thoughts on this in a future post). Some of that is simple. We just need to change the description of the location in the catalog so that it'll refer to the new location. Some are more difficult.

We have a few collections that are currently in their location that will be incorporated into other collections (i.e., our non-reference LAW books are being integrated into nonfiction). So, we're taking part of this separate LAW collection and moving it into nonfiction, but some of it is staying separate. So, we need to move the books in the catalog from one location to another. Right now, we have LAW, BUSINESS, CAREER, FDC, and a few miscellaneous collections that are being split like this.

We also have a few collections that will need to be split because we are physically moving them to different parts of the library (the library used to be a children's section and then everything else; now we'll have three main sections: children's, fiction, and nonfiction). For example, we have educational videos, (as opposed to entertainment videos like Star Wars and The Sopranos) that include things like the BBC version of "Pride and Prejudice," but also things like "8-minute Abs." Right now, they are in the same room. BY the end of the year, they will be in separate rooms. Right now, they are in the same location in the catalog. By the end of the year, they will need to be in separate locations in the catalog.

As I investigated this issue earlier this fall, I learned that this was no way for me to do this on my own without scanning each book manually. I find it hard to believe that moving collections from one place to another is not standard in an ILS. We have a workaround that we're building right now, but I can't believe I had to get a workaround made. In a multi-library system, you would have the ability to 'move' the books in the catalog from one library to another and then back again, but changing locations along the way. I don't know why I can't do this for a standalone library; they're creating a fake library for me to use for this exact purpose.

How many libraries out there shift books from one location in the library to another? What if you wanted a separate travel section? Or you wanted to combine two existing collections?

Don't even get me started on close dates for loan periods while we're closed. :)



Gary S. said...

Very intersting. I'd love to hear more about that workaround you made. When I brought our summer reading books up from the stacks I changed their location manually, one at a time--all 2,500 of them.

The Editor said...

We've contracted with Sirsi (sounds've contracted Sirsi...) to create a pseudo library where I can move books in the catalog temporarily and then move them back to the real library and put them into a new location at the same time.