Chicken soup for the tired, caffeine-soaked, homicidal librarian’s soul (now with additional information)

On Monday my fellow media specialist* (henceforth known as MJ) and I were given the green light to order a third of the library collection planned for our new library. You know, the one at the new school, which is still a flat expanse of red mud? The one that probably won’t be ready for student occupation until, oh, I don’t know, 2020? Our accreditation organization recommends that we have a minimum of 10 books per student and we currently have about 2.5. Pre-fire we had around 11 per student, so we have a lot of catching up to do, and we convinced the People With Money that we needed to start catching up now. And that is why both MJ and I spent every minute of the last 4 days of work–approximately 32 hours–in front of the computer ordering 4000 books. Four. Thousand. You librarians out there–you will understand this: we started with great enthusiasm, but by the end of the day today we were both all “We’ve covered the gays, the anorexics, the African Americans, the scientists, the dead famous people, the athletes. Who have we left out? The golfers? The race car drivers? Sure, order golf books. NASCAR books are good.” In the end we only managed to come up with 3700 because, seriously, 4000 books is a lot of damn books.

It was quite a learning experience, my first book order. For instance, did you know there are 8 billion different Chicken Soup for the Soul books? There is chicken soup for every kind of soul you can imagine. Jack Canfield, if you are reading this, you need to publish Chicken Soup for the Poor Public School Servant’s Soul, and the pages need to be made out of 100 dollar bills. That would warm my soul right up.

Unfortunately, what I didn’t learn during the book order was how to catalogue. Incidentally, that’s what I’m supposed to be learning right now, in my cataloguing class. That’s right, folks, I am blogging in a master’s level class I paid almost a grand to take. In my defense, if I sat here and tried to focus on what’s happening (or not happening**, in this case) at the front of the room, I would stab myself or one of my classmates, or probably my professor, and the subsequent results (bail, lawyer fees, etc.) would cost way more than a thousand dollars, so this is really the safer and cheaper option for me. So if you are a librarian and cataloguing wizard, please share your secrets with me, and if you are a librarian and not a cataloguing wizard but made it through cataloguing with flying colors, or any colors at all, please tell me what I need to know to survive.

For now, I will amuse myself by imagining your brilliant responses to this request: who else needs chicken soup? In the comments, or on your own blog, suggest more titles for Mr. Canfield’s consideration (and if you’re feeling really creative, write a nice entry that might appear in your version, because that would make me really happy).

*fancy public school name for librarian

**teaching, in case you hadn’t already figured it out

To clarify: I am taking cataloguing because my program requires it, not because it will EVER be a useful skill in school media. We use one of the jobbers Jen mentions in the comments, and they do all the hard work for us. As they should. Book-buying is expensive. Also,when the new school opens, the school system will order the “stock collection” for us (also mentioned by Jen); what we ordered this week was mainly everything we needed to support the specific curricular studies (and recreational reading needs) of our current students.

But more importantly, WHERE ARE YOUR CHICKEN SOUP TITLES? C’mon, AdProb, I know you’re holding out on me!

10 thoughts on “Chicken soup for the tired, caffeine-soaked, homicidal librarian’s soul (now with additional information)

  1. Whoa, babe. That’s impressive, and headache inducing. You’re describing my approach to purchasing every summer times 20!

    Um, two thoughts to help you retain a bit of sanity. (More like one thought with two nuances.) 1) Book jobbers (B@ker & T@ylor, F0llet, and some others) have entire divisions that specialize in building collections from the ground up. You give them basic info on your school community and budget, and they offer you packages of books that reflect best practices in collection development AND your state curriculum. I think there’s substantial discount built in. And you can have as much control over the lists as you want. If you want to go through title by title and approve/discard, you can. Or, if you want to focus on certain aspects of your collection, you can accept their prebuilt lists for a certain percentage of your target budget, and spend the remaining money and your time and effort on the areas you deem worthy of your time and effort.
    2) Most jobbers, resellers and publishers will catalog and process your books for you for an additional fee. It’s a small fee but dear god it’s worth it if you’re building an entire HIGH SCHOOL LIBRARY from the bloody ground up. Otherwise you’ll BE ground up.

    No, I don’t work for them. But after a few years, I can see why they are so successful with these services. They make sense. Now, if you’re like me, you’re shriveling at the very thought of spending some of your book budget on something that isn’t actual books (processing, cataloguing) or of letting someone else pick the books for you. But realistically, you are two human beings and you have a lot more to do than just buy books. Many of my friends have opened libraries at new schools in the past two years, and I’ve watched it be a really, really huge timesuck. A good timesuck, to be sure, but it has the potential to Eat. Your. Life. And in my county, the central office purchases about 2/3 of the collection for a brand new library, so these people’s lives are being consumed by ordering 1/3 of a collection. And we don’t do any cataloguing in our county – it’s all centrally done.

    If you already knew all this and chose to go a different direction for your own reasons, more power to you. But if not, give some consideration to buying a little sanity for yourselves so you can a) see your daughter occasionally b) have a life c) focus your efforts on the entire library media program and not just purchasing and cataloguing.

    Oh, and if I’d had a blog in grad school you bet your ASS I’d have been blogging during certain of my core classes. Not cataloguing though. Lord, that was taught by an insane woman who thought we all wanted to be PhDs in arcane cataloguing and database structure theory. I survived that one by the skin of my teeth.

  2. there are two types of librarians — the people who like reference, and the people who like cataloguing. my friends and i in school found that most people do not enjoy both. i, for example, got an A in reference and a B- in cataloguing. i had heard library school was really easy and that it was hard not to get all As, but damn, cataloguing kicked my ass.
    but yeah, what Jen said above. buying the books pre-catalogued is definitely the way to go. this will not help you for class, but will save your sanity at work. or maybe MJ is a cataloguing person?

  3. Chicken Soup for the Jaded New Yorker’s Soul

    Chicken Soup for the Religious Right’s Lack of Soul

    Chicken Soup for Barren Bitches (courtesy of the Stirrup Queen)

    Chicken Soup for the Partners of Barren Bitches.

  4. Totally Chicken Soup for the Infertile Soul
    Chicken Soup for the Liberal Mind
    Chicken Soup for the Organic Gardener!

    By the way, i am amazed that you came up with 3700 books!

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