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Behind the Scenes: Technical Operations

photos of library staff and books

Discover the next step in how a book becomes a library book — and the team that makes it happen at FCPL.

After Selection Comes Receiving

In the summer edition of Branch Out, we talked about how our FCPL Collection Services team selects titles — always with the goal of maintaining a collection with a depth and breadth of titles that reflect our communities’ varied interests. 

The next step in how a book becomes a library book is receiving. Part of the Technical Operations Center, a facility adjacent to Chantilly Regional Library, this team accepts and verifies incoming shipments from vendors. After more steps by other teams in Technical Operations, the receiving team also ensures fully cataloged and processed library materials are distributed to branch locations.

In addition to receiving multiple pallets of new materials per week, this small team also handles bins and boxes of older materials in need of evaluation by Collection Services staff and manages their redistribution. Library staff regularly review older materials for condition, content currency and circulation in the branch where it is located.

The Ebb and Flow

On average, three specific months are busiest for receiving new materials: April, July and September due to the publishing cycle and the county’s fiscal year cycle. This is because publishers “chunk” their work into seasons, which leads to some receiving spikes. Also, at the end of the fiscal year, if Collection Services has any unspent funds remaining in the materials budget, they review the year’s orders and purchase additional copies or books that have won awards, have been named as essential for public libraries, or that are circulating better than expected.

pallets of books at technical operations

More Peeks Behind the Scenes

Learn how the pandemic — and the related closures, publishing changes and needs of library users — affected the receiving team in the article Library Pandemic Logistics: A Summer Rush for the Receiving Team. And look for the next installment of our Behind-the-Scenes series in the spring issue of Branch Out; we’ll continue our exploration of the life cycle of a library book with the cataloging process!

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