All library resources should be processed before they are borrowed. This identifies them as library property, allows them to be checked out and prolongs their life.

Processing should be consistent for each format eg book, reading set, DVD, magazine. Guidelines should be documented for the benefit of current library staff and new members of staff.

Labelled shelves in the workroom can be used for each stage of processing and will enable you to develop a good workflow. Examples could include: New items, Covering, Add to catalogue and Spine Labels.

Processing may include a:

  • School label or stamp: Resources should be labelled or stamped in several places. If possible, all items within a kit or multimedia resource should be labelled or stamped.
  • Item barcode label: Barcode labels should be attached in the same place on each item. This makes it easier to find barcodes at checkout, checkin and during inventories. TALIS Network schools should purchase barcodes from designated suppliers. Barcode numbers should also be recorded on each part of a multimedia kit to connect the parts back to the kit if they become lost. OR
  • Pocket and card: A small number of libraries use pockets and cards if they aren’t automated or have small satellite collections. The pocket and card should be clearly labelled and attached in a consistent place.
  • Due date slip (if applicable): Most automated libraries do not use them, but if they are used they should be attached in a consistent place.
  • Call number label: Labels indicating the shelf location should be placed in a consistent place on the spine or cover. Labels can be printed from a library management system, label maker or word template. Some libraries use additional pre-printed labels to indicate a specific collection or genre.
  • RFID or security system tag (if applicable): Tags should be put in a consistent spot.
  • Covering: Plastic or contact is often used to protect books.
  • Reinforcing tape: Many schools reinforce books with strong filament tape to give them a longer shelf life.
  • Repackaging: Sometimes kits or multimedia resources will be repackaged into bags or containers.
  • Contents notes label: They can be added to multimedia resources or kits to make it easy to check the contents.
  • Accession number (for manual libraries only): New items should be recorded in an accessions book. Numbers are used to indicate the year and a running number eg 2018/04 (for the fourth book purchased in 2018).

Hints and tips from Tasmanian school library staff

  • Covering – If using Raeco products, 80 micron delayed bond is easier to use than 65 micron.
  • Spine labels – Recommended options include:
    • Avery spine label L7651 (65 labels to a sheet). Templates are available in Microsoft Word.
    • Dymo book spine label writer.
  • Sustainability – Libraries are becoming more aware of the use of plastic. Library staff are encouraged to:
    • Assess whether plastic covers (including laminating) are needed to prolong the life of the item, or whether it will last the distance without being covered.
    • Consider composting the paper pages of discarded books.
    • Checkout this ALIA blog about sustainability in libraries.

Cataloguing and data entry

All resources should be catalogued so:

  • They can be managed and accessed.
  • Expenditure can be tracked and auditing requirements are met.
  • Items display in the library catalogue.

Processes will vary in automated and non-automated libraries.

Automated libraries

It is vital that data entry is accurate and consistent, and is based on the school’s codes list and established standards.

If an appropriate catalogue record can’t be found, a record can be imported from an external database eg Libraries Australia, WorldCat or SCIS.

The following tools may be useful to ensure data entry is accurate and catalogue records are consistent:

TALIS schools should also refer to the Stock / Item Maintenance and Cataloguing Manuals on the TALIS Support Website.

Manual (non-automated) libraries

Libraries that are not automated need to create their own catalogue records or purchase commercially available records from Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) (subscription service).

If records are created, it is advisable to document standards relating to classifying the items and the level of catalogue description. RDA, Dewey and SCIS subject headings should be used.

Call numbers and Dewey

Call number structure

The call number contains information that points a borrower to the shelf location of an item. The call number structure is determined by the type of material and the collection where it is housed. Each school selects its own call number structure for collections and new items should follow set standards.

As a general rule, the following conventions are followed:

  • Fiction items (including picture books): They should contain the first three letters of the author’s surname. Some picture books only use the first letter. If there is no visible author, the call number will be the first letters of the title. Examples for the author Paul Jennings include F JEN (includes a F prefix), JEN (no prefix) or J (picture books).
  • Non-fiction items: They will usually contain a Dewey number and the first three letters of the author’s surname eg 398.3 JEN. Some collections will have a prefix or copy/volume information eg TREF 398.3 JEN (prefix), BKSET 919.6 TAS COPY 1 (prefix and copy/volume).
  • Other: Some collections have an organisation that does not fit either the fiction or non-fiction convention. For example guided readers may be stored according to levels, and the Christmas collection could be stored in a box. A guided reader’s call number could be LEVEL 12, and the call number of books in the Christmas collection could be CHRISTMAS.

Selecting the correct call number

The most important thing to remember is that call numbers should follow a consistent structure:

  • Items in the same collection should have call numbers that follow the same format. This means your staff and students only need to learn one system.
  • Non-fiction items should be given the same Dewey as other items on the same topic in your library. This results in similar items being shelved together and enhances access by staff and students.

When choosing a collection for a new item, consider the content of the item, how it will be used and where they would expect to find it. The collection will determine the format of the call number.

The following tips can help you to choose a call number:

  • Check the shelves or search the catalogue for existing items on the same topic or in the same collection. Adopt the same Dewey number and call number format.
  • Dewey is used to select non-fiction call numbers. Your library may have the book version (preferably the abridged version) although you can find information on various websites and/or purchase a subscription to WebDewey. To choose Dewey numbers:
    • Search by subject in the index at the back of the Dewey book.
    • Read the detailed descriptions of the number located in the schedules or main body of the book. The book is organised according to the Dewey structure.
    • Confirm it is the most appropriate number for your library.
  • Cataloguing-in-publication data: There is often a Dewey suggestion in the publication information at the front of books and in catalogue records.
  • TALIS Network schools:
    • Consult your library’s codes list. The home locations (collections) section will list any prefixes that need to be applied.
    • Check what call numbers other schools have used but use this information as a guide only – there is a lot of variation in call number application between schools.

Dewey overview

Dewey provides a framework for organising non-fiction items by subject.

Main categories

000 – 099  General works, computer science and information

100 – 199  Philosophy and psychology

200 – 299  Religion 

300 – 399  Social sciences

400 – 499  Language

500 – 599  Pure science

600 – 699  Technology

700 – 799  Arts and recreation

800 – 899  Literature

900 – 999  History and geography

Within each category the numbers are further broken down into subject topics, which are then further subdivided, with each number becoming more specific:

       500  Science

       510  Mathematics

       520  Astronomy

       530  Physics

       540  Chemistry

       550  Geology

       560  Fossils and prehistoric life

       570  Life sciences and biology

       580  Plants

       590  Animals (Zoology)

                        591  Specific topics in natural history of animals

                        592  Invertebrates

                        593  Miscellaneous marine & seashore invertebrates

                        594  Molluscs

                        595  Arthropods

                        596  Fish

                        597  Cold-blooded vertebrates

                        598  Birds

                        599  Mammals 

                                   599.2  Marsupials and monotremes

                                   599.3  Placental mammals

                                   599.4  Bats

                                   599.5  Dolphins and whales

                                   599.6  Hooved animals

                                   599.7  Carnivores

                                   599.8  Primates

                                             599.88  Great apes

                                                          599.884  Gorillas

Many schools use an abridged version of Dewey because it is better suited to student need. It does not provide the detailed subject breakdown that can result in long call numbers.

Schools will often shorten and simplify call numbers. This can help staff and students to find the right item quickly. Call numbers should be shortened in a consistent manner.

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Page updated 19/10/2021

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