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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Value My Time More

You librarians need to start valuing your time more. That’s what Eric Fitzgerald from Capstone Press told me. We were discussing book processing and librarians’ obsessive need to do it ourselves to have it perfect. 

Did you know that you can make special requests of vendors? You can ask them to stamp your books or put a printed label inside identifying your school so you don’t have to stamp it. (Can you tell I don’t like to stamp books?) You can request that vendors use their best judgments and create spine labels that don’t wrap around. If the label needs to be printed sideways to fit, they can figure this out as well as you and get it done alot faster. 

Most vendors have people sitting there doing nothing but perfectly placing labels all day long. That sure beats how I process a book. I do one step, am interrupted, go back to see where I was & do another step, help the next student, answer the phone, pull materials for a teacher, do the next step, teach two classes simultaneously, then go back to remember where I was in the processing step. It takes me WAY too long to process one book. Consider that I added over 1000 books this school year to the collection. How much time did I spend or did the vendor processing specialists spend preparing the books? Would it be worth it to pay for someone to do your books? 

Don’t forget putting on the mylar book jackets! Those take me forever to do because I have to clear off counters, drag out the materials, remember how to do them, begin placing the cover, deal with teachers and students who are lining up while I’m processing, go back to resmoothing the cover, answer the telephone, fold the mylar over the cover, help the life-skills class during the mandatory evacuation drill, go back to resmooth the cover, locate the tape, answer the phone, and finally tape the cover to the book. 

In the priority list of my day, taping covers just doesn’t seem as important as teaching students and working with teachers.  I plan to do a much better job of purchasing processing this year so I can focus my time on instruction.

I value my time so much that when I meet with vendors, I make special requests. I ask them to create 2 or 3 lists as we order and preview. One list is for 1st priority nonfiction, one is for 2nd priority nonfiction, and the third is for fiction. This helps me reduce my time editing orders. I also ask vendors to help me locate titles in very specific ranges. For example, I have been known to say that I need reptile books for interest level 5-9 at a reading level of grades 3 up, with a copyright no earlier than 2006, with color illustrations, and that appeal to my ESL/ELL populations. They must have 48 pages, include TOC, index, and web links.

One vendor, Ben Cowan, happened to visit my lair – I mean my room – right after I’d printed a collection analysis. He helped me study the average ages and number of titles for specific Dewey ranges and immediately started sorting through which series he offered to meet those needs. Then he helped develop a spreadsheet that indicated the DDC so I could present a thorough case to my principal for ordering needed materials. 

One vendor, J.T. Fisher of Children’s Plus, read my blog to see what titles students were requesting. He then searched his offerings to help me match needs with resources. That was without my even asking. 

Another vendor read my facebook message and contacted me to help order books. Vendors want to help. If they need to type the order for us, they’ll do it. If we need them to track what we’ve already ordered from them, they’ll often do this.



  1. Small Town Librarian says:

    How nice that you have a budget and can make a consideration list. That is why I do all my own processing. Not because I need to have it perfect, but because I have not had a budget to purchase materials for 4 years. My books all come as bonuses from the annual bookfair and I process them myself – gladly. They are the only new materials my students see. I would love to tell vendors my specs to process new books. Give me the budget and I will do so.

  2. Chad Lehman says:

    I try to do everything possible to have vendors take care of all processing. That is the LAST thing I want to do. I have not had a vendor not meet my needs.